So this is embarrassing…

I’ve procrastinated this post because basically, I feel like a jerk. I’ve made QUITE a show of my travel plans to the point of creating a blog to document them and now I have to own up: I’m not going to Spain.

Let me tell you a story. 3 months ago I walked in to a anarcho-hippie coffee shop in SE Portland to meet my psychic. I don’t usually frequent crusty coffee shops nor Southeast PDX nor psychics but I was in desperate need of some guidance. I call Raven my psychic because, amidst her piles of cotton candy hair, blue eyeliner, rainbow crystals and runes; I recognize a nurturing and staggeringly thorough empath and at that moment in my life, I frantically sought insight.

2 weeks earlier my existing concepts about life and how it works had crumbled. Stephen A. Person, a close friend, was killed in a drunk driving collision. Life felt surreal. Slumped in a vinyl hospital chair under fluorescent lights all I could do was blink and wait and as I floated through the next week of memorial service, preschool shifts, and teary gatherings with friends I felt an underlying urgency in my gut that screamed RUN. I felt the immediacy of my youth and as I looked around at my friends’ ghosted faces I was scared. I stopped drinking, committed to yoga and accepted a position to teach in Spain as soon as it was offered.

Spain acted as a mechanism to transition out of a life that had stagnated.  I was also aching to get out of my business but it was so difficult to walk away from all of the painstaking time and passion I had invested in to Backtalk. I felt like I was abandoning a child but I had to accept that the business had developed in to something  that I ethically no longer wanted to be a part of. One day last Spring I walked in to the store and the playlist was exactly adapted from Urban Outfitters playlist. This seems trite but it was an a-ha moment for me. I realized Backtalk had largely deviated from the original business plan I had written and what it was becoming was in opposition to what I wanted it to be. I never wanted to be the next Urban Outfitters, I sincerely wanted to do something altogether different and innovative that contributed positive vibes to the Portland design scene, not mass-produced trends.

Stephen’s death put all of this all in to a tail spin. I freaked out.

And I went to see my psychic. She told me, as every intuitive has told me before, that I would travel wide and far. She told me that I felt voiceless and trapped. She told me that the village in Spain could use my help and that a return to education was the best possible decision for me and that I should leave my business for the sake of my head and heart. I drank my iced chai, blinked and made my decision. I was going to Spain as quickly as possible.

Raven’s statements were all accurate but I took them perhaps too literally. Spain seemed like the most accessible mechanism for transitioning out of Backtalk and away from the palpable grief surrounding Stephen’s death. I greedily took the opportunity to escape.

Costa Rica was out of my control but I have chosen to not go to Spain. The acquisition of a job there allowed me to find freedom here: I purged belongings, sold Backtalk, travelled the West Coast and felt a powerful surge of happiness in San Francisco.

But I realized in my travels that now is not the moment to move to a tiny village, isolated from my family, friends and identity. However, the process of preparing for this life change was fruitful. I will always be infinitely grateful for the kindness and guidance of Maury, my former Ubriqueno yoga teacher, whose friendship and wisdom over the past few months has been monumentally important to me. This would not have blossomed without my tentative Spain plans.

There are, of course, a multitude of other factors in my decision that are too personal to share on the world wide web. Maybe I can tell you over a tall glass of whiskey.

Ultimately, Spain did not serve the purpose I had intended but in retrospect, it served a purpose in the evolution of my next steps. A week from today I fly to San Francisco for interviews and hope to transition to the Bay over the next month. I guess I’m still running, just not as far from home and in to the warm arms of dear friends.

I feel somewhat very foolish about my boasting over grand international travels but I have been meditating on this phrase all week: Shit happens. The best that I can do is handle that shit as honestly and graciously as possible.

I’ll end with this, a picture of Stephen from a photo shoot Megan facilitated at our house this past winter. Wherever I go, whether Spain or San Francisco, I will carry his adventuring spirit with me.


By Matthew Houlemard

I will also try to base life decisions on tarot less and deal with reality a little more effectively.

So here goes, next step, a day at a time.

All My Love Everywhere and Infinitely,

xo, E.D.


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