Monday, June 3, 2013

From an Undisclosed Location with Love

June 3, 2013 – From an Undisclosed Location with Love

Only twenty-two days past my self-imposed deadline I finish the first draft of the book I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year. It’s a tale of expectations and love and the failure of love. It’s not the story I set out to write. And it’s too early to know if it’s any good. I finish it in just enough time to take a few days “off” before I pack up my bags again and prepare to catch a flight out of town.

It’s time to move on. I’ve known this day would come (time passes by so quickly now) and I’ve been looking forward to it. It means forward momentum, getting out of the humidity of Texas, and keeping with my nomadic lifestyle for a little bit longer. In spite of knowing all this I’ve reached that conflicting phase where I’m ready to go but I don’t want to leave. I worry that I’m being foolish; I should stay and work a little longer (I know money can’t buy me love but it sure helps out with other things). Also it’s been delightful living with my parents (aka friends). 

We’ve settled into a nice existence. Who would want to ruin that? And what will the dogs do without me there to play with them during the day?

But I can’t stay still. I feel the moss starting to grow up around my feet and, soft as it is, I can’t have that.

So early in the morning, after days of agonizing over what to take and what to leave I zip up the last bag, grab my snacks, bid Mom and Rocky a see you later and get in the car. My dad drives me to the airport with his dog Oscar along for the ride. They drop me off curbside. Dad helps me unload my things. I hug him goodbye and go to check my bags. I’m on my way toward the airport entrance when Dad heads back over to me. “I just had to tell you,” he says. “Oscar is really upset that you aren’t coming back with us.”

I look back and see Oscar’s fuzzy head through the car window, hear his frantic whining. My heart cracks just a little. Even when I understand that it’s not forever, leaving can be hard to do. There’s always someone, something to miss no matter where I am. Always. It’s not forever, I think at him. Maybe dogs are telepathic. Or maybe not. Sorry, Oscar, I know you don’t understand. I smile because that’s all I can do right now.

A final wave from me to Dad and then we’re out of each other’s sight.

I board a plane, buckle in, and head west. West to where the mountains are. West to where I’ve left a good portion of my soul. West to Colorado.

With the financial help of a friend I rent a car and spend a few days catching up with folks I haven’t seen in two years. I can’t believe it’s been that long since I sold nearly everything I had, quit my job, and left the country. What a two years it’s been. I meet up with my Judo buddy Christal for lunch one day and as we get each other up to speed she asks, “When did you get back from Peru?”

I pause to backtrack nine countries, a couple oceans, four states and four seasons. Peru. I’ve almost forgotten the chaos of Lima, the noise, the crowdedness. How and why I went there in the first place. Almost. It seems impossible but what I say is true. “I got back last June.” And now here it is practically June again.   

“I couldn’t do what you’re doing,” Christal tells me later. She means the living month to month, place to place, and dime by dime. In contrast I don’t think I could do what she’s doing; studying for her MBA, working two jobs, and keeping her truck’s tank filled with gas.

For a lark, I visit my old place of employment.

Denise greets me from behind the desk I used to hide my flip-flopped feet under. Thanks to the openness of social networking we don’t have much new to share with each other. “You should go wander around and say hi to people,” she tells me at a lull in our conversation.

When I worked there I didn’t often get the chance to leave the confines of my desk. So the expansiveness of the whole building feels a bit daunting. There are so many offices. So many halls. I don’t know who I might run into. “I’ll go bug the Finance Department,” I say. I worked under their umbrella and know my way around those cubicles at least.  

I knock on the divider as I come around the corner. Then I shuffle my feet and smile at the surprise both Joan, my old boss, and Tami express at my sudden appearance. I’ve interrupted them trying to fix something fiscal, but they don’t seem to mind.

They ask me what I’ve been up to and I tell them. They ask me what’s on the agenda for the future and I tell them as much as I know.

“A rolling stone gathers no moss,” Joan says.

It’s warm in this part of the building. I wipe a sheen of sweat off my upper lip and try to look at ease. I shrug in agreement.

“Do you ever want your job back at the front desk?” Joan asks.

“No way,” I say a little too quickly perhaps. “I don’t want to work behind anybody’s desk but my own.”

She’s not offering me the job back--it’s Denise’s (thank goodness and sorry)--she’s asking a legitimate question. And imbedded within it are the other questions, Do you regret what you’ve done? Do you wish you had more stability? Would you do it all over again? My instant response reaffirms for me that I’m living my life the right way. Sure it’s stressful at times, sure it’s uncertain, but I have freedom now that I never had when I had a regular paycheck coming in. Joan and Tami nod their heads and laugh a little, and they say things like, “I understand that,” and “Sure.”

At the sound of our voices Jim, the department head, pokes his head around the cubical wall. After the quick recap of all I’ve just told the ladies—where I’ve been, where I’m heading--he says, “So you haven’t put roots down anywhere yet?”

“My roots only go about three months deep,” I say. If that. For now I’m still a wanderer. A nomad. A drifter. A rover. Following the wind, chasing the sun, and seeking the duality of peace and adventure. I love Colorado and I’m sure I’ll end up here again, but I want it to be on my terms. And until I can work that out I’ll vagabond a little longer.

A few moments later, I bid them goodbye and head out into the open air. There’s the familiar top of Pike’s Peak covered in snow. There’s the sun inching its way westward. There’s the world in front of me.

I look around and take a breath. I’m about to go back into hiding. It’s one way to get things done without distraction. Out of sight, out of mind. 

And while I’m pretending I’m in the Witness Protection Program my goal is to write a proposal for a non-fiction book that would allow me to travel the world again and write about my experiences. If I can sell this idea then I can stretch my wings and fly a little bit longer.

If not, well, then I’ll keep on living place to place, month to month, and dime by dime until it feels right to let the moss collect and grow.