The Road Trip (and Why I Hate My Life)

Last month, The European and I took our first road trip together. We both like Frank Lloyd Wright so we decided to drive out to Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania for a tour.  (Those of who who’ve been reading for a while may recall that this was not my first trip to Fallingwater but given how things went down the last time, I figured it would be good to make some new memories.)

Road trips tell you a lot about a person. Especially when you tack on a Savion Glover concert at Longwood Gardens the night before and a backyard bonfire the night after…

In total, we spent almost three days together. Three days, 600 miles and about 10 very long hours in his car. I learned some lovely things about him and some not-so-lovely things about him (he is human, after all) but I don’t want to talk about The European. I want to talk (surprise, surprise) about myself.


We’re in the motel, watching HGTV so I can “get ideas” for my house and drinking cheap white wine, when he kisses my forehead and tells me I’m “an enigma.”

“Not that that’s a bad thing,” he assures me. “It’s very intriguing. But you are an enigma all the same.”

“Well so are you,” I tell him. “But really, I’m not all that complicated.”

“You are,” he insists. “You’re a dancer, you’re a writer, a blogger, a college professor. Which is it?

This is not the first time he’s asked me this sort of question. He asked me on our first date and was shocked when I told him that actually I want to be a novelist.  Since that night, he has kept on asking me in slightly different ways, hoping perhaps to get a more conclusive answer, or at least one that makes sense.

As usual, I deflect. I tell him about Katherine Dunham, the famed 20th-centry dancer/anthropologist/writer who was also an educator and an activist and spent her whole life with one foot in each camp. She is very hot in academic circles right now (even though the powers-that-be ignored her academic work for years) because she was doing things like reflexive writing and ethnographic fiction and practice-as-research long before they were in vogue. And she did it as an African American woman, during a time when few women (and even fewer African American women) even went to college.

Now I’m not saying that I’m the next Katherine Dunham. Or that I even necessarily want to be the next Katherine Dunham. All I’m saying is that if she could do it, I could do it.

And I tell the European as much.

But I’m tired.

Oh so tired.

I am too young to be this tired.

And over the next few days, as we cross the state and drive back again, the truth starts to come out.

I don’t have any hobbies because I don’t have the time.

I don’t take days off. Ever.  I can’t remember the last time I met a friend for coffee that wasn’t somehow work-related.  I see couples sitting at little outdoor cafes, or girlfriends gossiping over lattes and I literally want to punch them.

I’m tired of directing a dance company.  I never even wanted direct a dance company in the first place.  I just wanted to dance.  And now I don’t even like dancing because I’m too stressed out about administrative stuff.

I wanted to go back to school for my PhD last year because I thought it would be easier than working five jobs, and because I thought it would make me a better instructor, not because I actually wanted to do anthropology.

I’m spread too thin.

I’m tired all the time.

I never have time to write any more.

And even though my life is interesting and people look at me and think, “Wow, she’s got her shit together!” I don’t actually like my life.

It gets me thinking. Could I make a change? Could I do something differently?  Could I start over somehow?

13 Responses to “The Road Trip (and Why I Hate My Life)”

  1. Ann St. Vincent

    Do you think he’s picked up on that? He sees that you are unsatisfied?

    It’s an interesting situation and I can relate somewhat to it. I feel bad when I’m dating guys who do all of these great things outside of work – because I feel inadequate. If I try to explain that my job and my child and my need for quiet time result in little time for other things…I end up feeling bad.

    It’s part of what I’m going through post split…what is it that I want my life to be? I hope you sort it out 🙂

    • Kat Richter

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one trying to sort this stuff out. And I can only imagine that it is WAY more complicated if you’re a parent. Don’t feel bad– although you’re totally correct on the fact that dating people who do awesome stuff has the tendency to make you feel less awesome about your own life. Really though, there is only one way to fix that: making your life your definition of awesome, and if that includes a lot of quiet time and time with your kid, that is totally okay as long as you are happy with it.

  2. xclampa

    Hey, it’s not about starting over, you know?
    At least that is not the case with all the people I see. You won’t be able to hold on to all your ‘identities’, but that’s the point – you shouldn’t have to. The price you pay for being spread too thin is not only not having your own time (much needed for inspiration and creative space and other things), it’s that you can’t get deep enough with one thing. You’re holding yourself back from going to another level. 🙂 You’re going to be fantastic in whatever it is you do, that is for sure, but it’s probably time to pick.

    That being said – you do have a house to think about in terms of financials. Choosing just one might not be an option, if you want to stay ‘afloat’. Letting go of a couple of commitments could be an option.

    Oh, and if I didn’t say this properly – I had to do the same thing. Simplify, choose. I miss painting and piano practice so bad it hurts, I don’t have time to practice languages anymore. However I do feel happy because I can spend time on what it is I really want to do – professional speaking – and I’ve made huge progress thanks to committing more time to it.

    • Kat Richter

      Hmmm… I think the universe might be trying to tell me something. That’s great that you’ve been able to make strides with your work as a speaker by giving up a few other things. I HATED practicing piano when I took lessons as kid and I suck at foreign languages so I can’t relate to your missing those things directly but I can definitely appreciate what you’re feeling about having to cut down. And yes: I definitely have been holding myself back from taking things to the next level. Thanks for sharing! It’s easier to take a leap of faith when you hear a few “success stories” from others 🙂

  3. landlord

    This is your year to begin to narrow down your involvement. Focus on what you want to do, as you have done the things you “needed” to do. Being a home owner will naturally force you to focus for one, on paying your mortgage 🙂 and having the space to write as well as the head space to prioritize, will enable you to rethink how you and the Lady Hoofers will play out.

    I must say this, you have done a remarkable job navigating the world of dance company administration for one so young AND for one who is friends with her dancers/divas…not an easy task by a long shot. In less than 4 years when you began this journey, you have made a name for yourself in the Philly dance community, the company has grown technically and artistically, and you have begun to operate with a balanced budget!! No small feat…you have dancers that will step up and others that will bow out, it will work out, one way or another.

    Because of you, female tappers in the Philadelphia region have a home to perform, where up until now there were no companies exclusively for them. (the Tap world is usually dominated by men) It is now up to someone else to continue the vision you began. You built a great foundation. Bravo…onward and upward.

    • Kat Richter

      Oh snap, now I’m getting all weepy again, but thanks 🙂 One of our new dancers shared a really cute story last night about how emotional she was when she found out she’d been accepted as an apprentice with the company and I was like, “Oh snap! I BUILT THIS.”

  4. Andree Grau

    Now is the time to delegate when you can and accept that the work will be done differently!

    • Kat Richter

      Yes, that is hard the part… but I have a FABULOUS Assistant Director (who is also an English professor so she’s supremely organized and good at dealing with people) and a new intern who is doing a great job so far as well.

      • Kat Richter

        PS: I read a very good book that I borrowed from The European about which I’ve been meaning to email you… will do shortly!

  5. Nadine

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, and I wanted to take a minute today to thank you for sharing the ups and downs of your life. It’s hard to be vulnerable- to anyone- and I think the writing you do here is incredibly introspective and brave. I have some strange parallels with you right now: my own European (sort of, it’s complicated), about to go on a road trip with him, with a possible stop at Fallingwater (weird!!)… as well as being at the point in my life where I feel a kind of urgency to really commit myself to what I want to try to go after. Follow your gut, Kat, and do what you need to do. Good luck!

    • Kat Richter

      Thanks, Nadine– and that’s awesome! I’m gonna have to stop by your blog and take a look at what “urgency” you have going on in your life as well 🙂 As for Fallingwater and your European, nice! If you make the trip, be sure to stop at Ohiopyle. It’s about 20 minutes away and well worth the detour. Hard to described but it’s basically a cute little town with nice restaurants and cafes and a park along the river. They were having some sort of extreme kayaking event when we were there so we snuck in a bottle of wine and had ourselves a little picnic and watched all of these crazy kayakers going over the falls. Of course its a bit colder now so you won’t be able to go wading like we did but its a very pretty place. Enjoy! And if you don’t know this already, be sure to book your Fallingwater tickets well ahead of time; the tours fill up really fast!

  6. aimeelojeski

    Love this! I’m right there with you on the subject of tired. New job, and school makes for a very tired human. I hope life slows down for you!!


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