Home and Away
It could be the jetlag, the confusing sleep pattern that allows me to drift off at a reasonable 10:30 p.m. only to awaken four hours later prepared to start a day that still sleeps. Or it could be the disorientation of returning to a life that demands planning beyond which sights I will see before noon, before the descent onto a nice lunch spot. The loss of life-in-the-moment slaps me hard as thoughts return to paychecks and tuition checks and career milestones and how to track down the undelivered post that was squeezed out of my mailbox during my two weeks away, the two weeks that my neighbor forgot to bring in my mail.
I am not born to travel. I am born to not be stationary, to live outside a predictable existence, to be part of a community that changes with the turnover of hotel rooms. In a life outside expectations of consistency I do better, where it is the circumstances that prevent relationships from growing too deep as opposed to life where the relationships do not grow because the connection is just not there.
That is what this awareness offers. When I stay off the internet, when I do not read of all that I cannot change – despite the proclamations that change resides in each one of our hands – I find peace. Selfish peace – or not – but peace nonetheless. When I walk instead of drive, when I read fictional tales rather than watch fictional tales. In these moments I connect with a quality that surpasses these simple actions.
The trip was to jumpstart the creative flow, to remind me of life outside the one offered in my day to day, to bond with a teen who may soon refuse to travel with me. Once I learned not to starve him in an effort to keep costs low (“What, fries and chocolate do not a lunch make?”), we found our rhythm. I hand over the guidebook and say, “Here, you plan Amsterdam,” and he does, and he leads and he chooses and his directionally-challenged brain learns to read a map.
We return home with shared sadness to a world awash in English, to signs we read effortlessly as opposed to the signs we proudly deciphered in the foreign lands, the ease diminishing the achievement we savored each day as we traveled.
We launder our limited two-week wardrobe of two pairs of pants each and a few shirts, and quickly re-adorn the same clothes, neglecting the closet full of options. Simple, I think. Fewer choices, more simplicity. I want to toss the clutter, remove the stacks of magazine back issues I will never read, create clear countertops and paperless drawers. I want less and less, yet do not know how to get to less.
But I will. I must. I must get to less. This is where my sanity resides. Spare. Sparse. Less.
And remembering. Remembering what brings out the best of each day, and recreating it here no matter the challenge, no matter the struggle.