we’ve come to that time of the year when the apartment family usually takes an extended leave of absence in order to seek new inspiration, for a month or two, in lands saturated with olive oil, hard cheeses and soft fruits. and so it is again today. except different. this time, it’s for a year or two…
see, journeys have felt for me lately so few and far between. I miss the real journeys, not mere trips of leisure but adventures that promote discovery as well as discomfort, that teach us just as we were convinced we knew everything, that attempt to create new familiarities. with most of our time spent at destinations, fulfilling geographical, personal, or professional obligations, we too rarely spend time wondering about the next departure as we tend to stay too long in any one place, comforted by knowing it too well and forgetting why we arrived at this strange place to begin with, because it was strange, because we were curious, once, because we had something to lose…
certainly, that’s why i moved to New York City in september 1989, while an 18 year-old french boy, and i frankly am flabbergasted that i stayed this long…
well, i fib a little, i do know. I know it took time to properly investigate all the aspects of life i found to be fascinating, it took time for such investigation to flower into an emerging personality, it took time to then try and grow laterally in a place that always wants us looking up. well, it took 25 years. from 18 to now 43 (that’s 25 years, right?…) easily persuaded by this tall and dark hostess to spend all my money in her shop.
but now, perhaps predictably, i feel a void, excavated by years spent chasing what might constitute a considered life, years surely growing more efficient, years finding ways to accomplish each task not to success but to satisfaction. i always felt a need to subtract from my life the unessentials, if not materially (numerous storage facilities throughout manhattan can testify to that,) at least psychologically, enough to now find myself satisfied, opening the doors to a life, not of ease but potentially consisting as much as possible of what i want to do.
problem is, i don’t know what i want to do…
over the past 25 years, i have been lucky to dabble in photography, theology, filmmaking, retail, design, architecture, writing, philosophical research, music and cooking as part of the poorly-named “creative agency” business my wife gina and i launched in 1999 and i was obsessed by each and every one of those activities at the time of discovery and subsequent experimentation; but now feel my thirst quenched. of course, i am not trying to pretend i have no more to learn about each subject, lord knows how little i know, only that obsession, fascination, even addiction have always been necessary components of my interest, they are what first sparks curiosity, murders procrastination and feeds for the long run, but something i no longer feel for any of anything. well, anything other than apple rumors.
and so, a void was created. by me. to fill.
what with ? i don’t know yet. and as much as i am aware that a change in geography has little to do with finding one’s mind, there is one thing i am sure of: i am sick of my point of view, literally. also, figuratively. the belief system i now hold to be true was forged decades ago and evolved into a set of values against which i now judge my environment and the people and things in it. also, tweets from @robdelaney. these values are what allow me to “decide” whether something is ostensibly “good” or “just good enough to wipe myself with.” yes, i’m charming. thing is, as much as i back evolution in my kid’s textbook, i am a proponent of creation in my own life, of my own life, i should say. and that is a process i have not actively put in motion in years. i miss it. i miss the act of deciding one morning that you’re a filmmaker, a few afternoons later that you can design homes and websites, that you’ve had enough of a neighborhood, city or country and leave for another… for over a decade now, i wore the shoes of the 30 year-old me, letting them lead me where he wanted to go, or stay, instead of asking myself if they still fit! well, it stops today, i’m sick of that guy, his shoes and all his lustrous hair!
my family and i have decided to change that point of view, literally first by moving to Bologna, Italy, where the wine is sweet and the tortellini appropriately cheesy, and figuratively second by consciously and actively questioning who we are; through those questions, hopefully eventually arrive at what we shall do.
that said, i assume that it won’t be easy to focus on the self when meals such as the above arrive at your table with the prosciutto in a separate plate because “the heat from the pizza would ruin the taste in the time it takes to bring it from the kitchen to the table were it on top…”
the goal of this adventure is threefold:
1. to prove out that a business can be run from anywhere one the world.
2. to establish a base from which travelling north, south, east and west is easy, affordable and practical.
3. to be fed new knowledge as well as un-refrigerated tomatoes.
now, this very well could be a complete bust but we are intent on taking the leap we have so often talked about, and heard talked about, and diving into the boiling water of change, aware, apprehensive but excited at the prospect of newness. it might be a bust but cannot be a waste of time.
the funny thing is that as we set up this new european outpost, the running of the apartment creative agency will most likely be exactly the same. still communicating, still writing proposals, still putting together teams of incredible designers and strategists from all over the world and executing incredible, if slightly odd, experiences for our clients. such is the way of the always-on global nomad. we are very much looking forward to experimenting with the furthest notions of “remote work” and thank our current and soon-to-be clients for trusting that it will works. because it works already.
so, on we go, tweeting, flickering and branching all the way through. it’s going to be interesting.
at least that’s what i’m telling myself because i’m scared shitless! but that’s my story and it’s sticking to me.
have an incredible summer and don’t forget to write!