Up, Up, Up, and Away: A Note on the Short-Term Future of this Passion Project

Friends,

With my first blog (liftingthevale), I knew conclusively when it was time to step away.

The reason for that was that I needed to launch this blog, which I’d been too scared to do until then. Looking back, I can’t imagine life without either of them, which is why they both still exist. I don’t foresee that changing any time soon.

I say this in order to assuage any fears that I will be abandoning you. And by “you,” I mean both this project and its small but fiercely loyal collection of readers.

But here’s the thing.

Aside from the newly-launched “VOICE IT!,” I’d like to spend more of my time either a) passing the mic (hence the aforementioned opportunity), or b) working on the other calling I’ve had since I was a little girl, which is to write. Like, capital W, write.

Those of you who know me or follow me here will know that I’ve completed my first manuscript, one that I hope will become the first in a three-part fiction series. I imagine it as a series of novellas, but I can also imagine a world where the over-arching stories get adapted to fit the screen, in either short- or long-form, depending on the extent of folks’ creative vision and feelings about the world I’ve created.

That brings us to the current predicament.

Lately, while I love this passion project with all my heart, I’ve been feeling like it makes me choose between doing what I need to do… and doing it well. And that’s never a good place for a creative to be. Just ask (or heck, observe) any of us. Very quickly, you’ll see what I mean.

That said, I’ve made the exceedingly difficult decision to step away from my role as content creator on this site — at least for now. There’s BIG WORK that needs doing to get my actually-paid-to-write work going in any real way.

And meanwhile, it is my absolute honor and pleasure to cede my time and space to those of you with stories YOU can’t imagine not telling (when you’re ready, of course).

So, wondering where you can See Ryan Write? Well, hopefully that will emerge in the not-too-distant future. But for now, there’s always IG (@rvmcgonigle). And perhaps there will be a few “check-ins” here as time goes by. Y’all know I can’t stay away forever <3.

All I’m wondering is what sorts of amazing things we’ll achieve — yes, all of us — in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Until then, be at home. Wherever you are, it’s yours for the making. Because like I said from the very beginning, We’re All A Little North By North Carolinian.

Yours, Always,

xoxo,

Ryan

North by North Carolinian

Full concept and content by Ryan Vale McGonigle

We’re All a Little North by North Carolinian

Born into a family who worked really hard to put down stable roots in North Carolina, I suppose I should have stayed there. Instead, I went to college far from home, met the New Yorker who would become my husband, and now live in a small, suburban community on Long Island.

Husband and I are very lucky. In addition to each other, we each gained a new home (and friends and family) through our union. I gained New York, he gained North Carolina, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But this doesn’t mean life is perfect. I have to acknowledge that, from time to time, it can be hard to live as a Southerner in the elite club of generations-long Long Islanders. I miss the voices of the South, the foods, the sounds, the smells, the entire way of life — one which, through the process of assimilation, I must often hide if not outright deny in order to be taken seriously.

I have an incredibly supportive spouse. And his family and friends have been welcoming since the earliest days of our courtship, but unfortunately I cannot be around these loving souls all the time. Outside of this support system, the process of assimilation can be lonely and terrifying. In this environment, it’s hard to find other people like me, or at least other people who’re open to knowing people like me.

I started to grapple honestly with this predicament about a year ago — with trusted friends, with family, in church, at work, in other writing projects, basically everywhere the topic nagged at me. Since we carry our identities with us everywhere, and since the world around me isn’t always welcoming, that nagging happened a lot. And then it started to happen even more, and grew even stronger, to the point where I knew I had to do something about it. I knew that I could no longer hide in silence. Especially because, through earlier work and conversations, I knew I wasn’t the only person out there experiencing this struggle — and it wasn’t just happening in New York. Stories like ours are about the struggle to build a loving home, a way of life, in any place that, quite frankly, would rather we weren’t there at all.

There are several ways to build a life in these scenarios:

(1) Deny everything about yourself, and learn very quickly how to do life in a completely different way, in completely different words and meals and jobs and goals and expectations, and then prepare to find out that sometimes, even when you play by every rule, those around you won’t see past the person they want you to be.

(2) Build community with others like you, if you can find them, to celebrate and protect your heritage. Society may rail against everything about you, but you can build collective agency, and at least have others to cry or laugh with about the social experiment your lives have become.

(3) Grow an insanely thick skin and resist the actors that seek to silence you, but do this because of and through love. Love takes a helluva lot more strength than hate. But it also has the greatest capacity to affect change, so it’s worthwhile if you can master it.

Spoiler alert: I’ve tried 1 and 2 before. Both helped, but were more reactive than I’d prefer. I’m onto the third attempt now, and that attempt is this space, North by North Carolinian. Rather than deny or simply expose the factors that have the potential for harm (and many do), this space will take up the yoke of building more open-mindedness, trust and love for others who aren’t always like us. This space is dedicated to celebrating the good in different, if not altogether divergent, cultures.

At a time when I desperately miss home, I feel compelled to collect the stories, recipes, music, art, and culture that speak to who I am, rather than being made to forget what they mean to me, a North Carolinian up North.

At the same time, I feel compelled to lift up and celebrate what makes life up North lovely and full. There are so many stories, recipes, and pieces of culture that matter and help me create meaning here, as I make my life and my home in the great state of New York.

Each of these places, each of these cultures, are wildly beautiful. Each of them matter. And so do their people. With this in mind, I hope North by North Carolinian accomplishes something positive, however simple it may seem on the surface. I hope it opens minds and hearts. I hope it elevates conversations. I hope it highlights and preserves heritages rather than destroying or minimizing them over fear of difference. And as one, small act of love and resistance, I hope it amplifies the light from many people, places and things who seek to remind us that we all matter, all of the time.

Join me in the process of building a life between and as part of two cultures. May we all be brave enough to honestly examine and own ourselves, and in the process may we come to see that we are all needed, exactly as we are, exactly where we are, for as long as we choose to be there.

We’re all a little North by North Carolinian. 

xoxo,

Ryan

NBNBC Logo_as_of_3.13.18

Full concept and content by Ryan Vale McGonigle