I am not the anywhere but here girl, that is not what this is. I can do this. I can stay put… I can do this. All the bits of Zen and happiness and light I found and gathered and tapped into from six-months on the road is nowhere to be found. They are hiding under a boulder inside of a clasped cave guarded by angry dragons with migraines. Why is it so hard to be home? Why is it so hard to be here —- this city that I’ve carefully chosen out of the thousands of cities to be my —- home?
I am squirming inside.
Life on the edge. I believe in a life lived on the edge. On that mostly metaphorical precipice, the place of discomfort, we grow and become our best. The road takes me to my own leading edge over and over again. Now, I am forced to wonder if home is the new frontier, judging by the desire to gnaw my arm off for a quick escape. These are signs of transformation, I murmur under my breath on the crowded subway, swallowing a scream, trying to find calm.
The conditioning is particularly loud when you are home. Here, at the Headquarter where the American dream is crafted, packaged and sold, getting you to buy what it’s selling is the only objective. Everything else, your childish whim to be free of the programming is just a barely audible static in this propaganda broadcast. The box, the box of should(s) —- a single track career, savings, retirement, insurance, security, debt to income ratio, home ownership, marriage and children and I don’t even know what else is heard on all frequencies, digital and analogue, coded in inspired meal, sustainably sourced espresso and artisanal cocktails. On the road, the noise of the calm and the delight of the discovery mute the programming. On the road, the box lives in another universe, one with a different atmosphere and time space continuum. In the city, the box follows me around everywhere I go. I get myself tangled up in a private war —- inside of my head —- with all the should(s).
Round peg square hole. Or is it square peg round hole? Either way, the box and I are on round 18 of mortal combat, I am bloody, exhausted and depressed. I want to start a fight. I want to crawl out of my skin. This is when a drug habit or a drinking problem would come in handy. I look at my phone and mentally list whom I could call for a night of wanton nothing. A meaningless night is the only self-destructive thing I know how to do; too many drinks followed by sex with narcissists would alleviate all these excessing feelings.
Someone save me from myself. I don’t go out and spent the night staring at the blinking cursor.
Maybe New York and I are done. Maybe I will fail this re-entry, ricocheted off the atmosphere like many before me. Despite of a closet full of cloths, I keep on reaching for the few presentable shirts and skirts and the hiking boots I’ve been living in these last six-months. It could be a habit, or something more pathological, a quiet wish to replicate the road here, somehow.
What is it about the road that feels so right? Why do I love those far-flung corners of the world?
I found out K is in Iraq, reporting for the newspaper he works for. In his last email to me, he wrote, “Learning how to ride a motorbike in Hanoi sounds wonderful. I am fighting off tedium in this velvet cage.” To volunteer for a posting in Iraq, now —- that is one way to fight off tedium.
I tell my traveling sister about K new posting. “Do you think we will end up like him? Unable to mate, always jonesing for the road, chasing the horizon for that something? Living for those goose bump moments?” She looks at me incredulously, “We already are. Do you not see that?”
A few more days
A final Hi meeting
The local neighborhood bar has a quiet time between six and nine. It is a place that specializes in coffee, beer and seasonal menus. There is just enough of each for a satisfying snack and effective buzz. After the time when the laptop lids close and before the social gatherings start -- there is a sort of twilight*. Often this time is a fugitive ground rife with creative inspiration and meditative work -- of the kind that results in personal reward.*twilight may refer to civil, nautical or astronomical variety depending on your social or terrestrial condition
A man positions his mouse on the edge of his browser window. He clicks, holds and drags the viewport first left then right. The content of a video game promo micro site responds and adapts to the available space. To the man, this is more delightful than the game itself.
A man laboriously moves his piano down three levels onto the subway platform. Classic vocals and strided chords -- he played so well I swore he was blind. Oblivious to the heat on that August stage, he was most in touch with his audience -- whom he elevated with his music.
A woman should do exactly as she pleases no matter what a man may think.
As the Dalai Lama once said, "It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room."
"No one understands me," she said. Her grandmother was silent for a minute. It seemed she was searching for an answer in the star speckled sky. "But no one understands anyone in this world, darling. We are all unique. It is what gives us a sense of wonder."