existential crisis on aisle 9

I wouldn’t have thought that laundry detergent was going to be the thing that would take me down; create in me that moment of panic that says, “uh oh, now you’ve gone and done it.” How could something so banal cause me to doubt the wisdom of a decision such a long time coming. Nevertheless, there’s an existential crisis on aisle 9.

I’ve been here before, and I don’t mean the crisis, although that too is true.

I know this place, Rīga, Latvia. I know the streets, I know the ways of its citizens, both Latvian and Russian. I know the weather can change in an instant, an absolute instant I tell you. I even spent 3 months here 15 years ago, teaching yoga and getting very sick. But this time it’s different, it’s not just a visit. I’ve committed to staying. I have relocated…

K. and I packed it all up on the Upper West Side.

We made piles of books that we stacked and restacked, we pushed them around trying to figure out if that “doorstop,” the short stories of Guy de Maupassant, really made sense, and would anyone ever appreciate being loaned the Dylan biography?

Dishes, dishes are really hard. Do you keep the “one offs,” the curious things you bought at the thrift store? Do you hold on to the chipped but beloved casserole dishes? The idea that you are going to ship a Le Creuset pot,

thousands of miles across the sea, so you can complain about it’s weight on the other side of the Atlantic, is dumbfounding. I have been found dumb.

Here I stand, in aisle 9, staring at bottles of laundry detergent, practically having a panic attack.

I don’t know the brands, and I can’t read the descriptions or instructions on the bottle, the ones in six different languages, in print so small I need a magnifying glass. Is this a metaphor for something, probably not, but I’m glad the feeling of confussion dissipates quickly. I grab a bottle and go, knowing that there will be many more of these “crises” to come. I’m here for it.

Back on December 11!, when I wrote “the sacred grail of youth,” I really truly had no idea I would be back in Rīga today, none. 

Here I am. The sign says “Rīga, without me, isn’t Rīga.” Brilliant branding, wishful thinking, time will tell.

I guess, dear readers, I’m back.




  • Leslie Coff says:

    guys — you MOVED THERE? You went and done it!!!!! Bravi a voi! The feelings you may or may not be starting to experience could be skirting along the edges of loss — which would be totally normal because even if you chose this there is a significant letting go happening. And yes, even when we lived in Italy a couple of years back a trip to the grocery store, the post office — even buying my train tickets could send me into a tailspin (all at the same time being the most exciting period of my life). YOU GOT THIS!

  • Inese Iris says:

    How many times can you wash and reuse a ziplock bag? Well actually for years and years until you find out the locals reuse most all plastic and that that actually makes a lot of sense. Why buy Tupperware if you can use ice cream containers for leftovers, plastic tubs from anything for storing home made bullion in the freezer; however hand picked berries do freeze well in ziplock along with the mushrooms you foraged in the woods.
    One hint, if it’s a milk or other food product and the microscopic ingredient list is longer than a centimeter, don’t buy it, get the one who’s ingredients are one line long, it’s healthier.
    Welcome home.

  • Mary says:

    Brave you! Thrilling! Can you vote absentee?

  • Mel says:

    Hello! Sveiki! (I hope that’s right, I looked it up.) So you moved. Well. Wow. I see and feel the history there and the newness in your words. Does this mean you no longer have to use the hyphen, Latvian-American? I hope those existential crises diminish, and if not, that they add meaning to your life in a positive way. I love that photo of you. Yes, brilliant marketing. I cheer you on.

  • Wow, Anita! Congratulations! I hope you’ll continue to share your life in Latvia if for no other reason than my own selfish need to “travel” and know the world still exists outside my four walls. But seriously, I wish you the best, most fulfilling of everything–life, creativity, experience. I look forward to more posts (here and on IG) as this new chapter unfolds.

    – Sherry

  • Anne R says:

    ((( hugs ))) A big decision for sure! Obviously the area called you at a deep level and felt right in your soul. Grateful you’re sharing your journey and I look forward to reading more!

  • Brikka says:

    Congratulations and best wishes on this new phase! I’m looking forward to following your adventures.

  • Deborah says:

    Gosh I can relate to the trauma of books and a big move. I have done a few in my life and gotten rid of 2 precious to me collections. Heartbreaking. And the special littles that I found in thrift shops also held so much meaning for me. My last major move was 3 yrs ago, and I hope at 65 this is it before…..whatever….I got rid of everything except about 6 plastic tubbies which I hauled across Canada. Now getting settled after touring in a motorhome for 2 years. Argh. It is hard during Covid to make a new life….I am hoping for you and for me these feelings of being lonely amid strangeness lessens soon. Yeah for us!

  • Laila Mednis says:

    I’m spellbound by your big life changing choice. Probably because I’ve been contemplating it also! Paldies, ka dalies!

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