Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Confessions of a Stranded Nomad

  Returning home from a long trip, particularly one as dramatic as my last venture, will leave any person in a state of “coping,” turning what they once thought was solid into a contortionists game, trying to make all the pieces fit into the box again. Some pieces were lost. Some thrown to the wayside once it was realized they were unnecessary baggage, just extra weight dangling from that backpack of life. Some pieces acquired, new, not wrapped in cellophane, but generally in the form of beautiful skin, disguised as a person, a friend, who has been traveling the globe, their whole life, your whole life, and then you meet...never having known how less your life had been without them initially in it. Other parts grow, and trying to fit them into the same categorical box you built yourself over a lifetime, is like trying to fit the ocean into a paper cup. Ludicrous.

  I think its often a romanticized misconception that when someone leaves behind their possessions, fit their life into a bag, and wander about the world, unsupervised by curious familiar eyes, that they will return a wise sage. All answers wrapped in perfect forms of calm poetic prose. But what would this classroom we call “the world” be, without a class clown wearing a dunce cap in the corner?

  I did not come back with all the answers. I came back with a few realizations, a selection of epiphanies, and a multitude of more questions than I held before I ever left. And finally a definite knowledge of just how strong, and weak, I can be on my own. I also increased my want to observe people. Weirdos, all of them. If you already know the problems I have with staring at people, well, then you can probably see how this will increase the frequency of my initiating awkward moments in public settings :)

  I will openly admit I have been toiling in the depths of a depression since my return, and the face of depression shifts shapes like the ripples on water in stormy seas. I am glad of it. At times I wore it well. At times I hid it. At times I hid FROM it, refusing to feel weak, and not understanding the root of the problem. But here’s the thing. Feeling, is not a problem. We are creatures made to feel. And roots, do not travel in straight lines. They meander, reaching in many directions, looking for nutrients to feed us. I think I needed those feelings, to find further strengths, and with any luck, will continue to find them so that I might continue to feed myself.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget the perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
-Leonard Cohen

  The week I returned home we found out my grandfather was ill. Last Thursday we put him to rest in the Veteran’s cemetery overlooking the city of Boise, where I grew up, and currently live. It was not my first rodeo with death’s dealings, and certainly not my last. I learned so much from him in his passing. Ever the teacher, he demonstrated how to maintain a beautiful level of grace and optimism, even through the roughest of times, and I am thankful for his final lesson. Freud says, death is the goal of all living creatures, and in turn, to my grandfather I say “congratulations on your success.” I could not be more proud of the man he was, and the memories we share.

  When things started getting rough for my grandfather, my mom, who has been living with both of my grandparents to help them keep their independent life-styles of living in their home, had to approach conversations that were essential, although probably uncomfortable. My grandparents have owned funeral plots for a very long time, and Mom asked Grandpa if he was sure he didn’t want to be buried in the Veteran’s Cemetery where he had been volunteering for the past decade. He said he already applied for a spot and that he left the prior funeral plots to my mother and myself. When my mom told me this, I was honored and confused, and I just started laughing, because I knew what it meant. Mom, asked him, “You don’t think Sara’s going to get married and have a family of her own someday that she might want to be buried next to?” to which he very honestly replied “Well, we just don’t know at this point.” I exploded into honest laughter, as did my mom. I was sad and offended to be seen as basically a lost cause...but then I thought about it, and why should I be offended at a statement that could very well be the truth? I don’t exactly follow conventional lifestyle paths, now do I? There are some who think I am downright confusing, which is fine, because I often confuse myself. This conversation spun me down a rabbit-hole of self-deprecation. Total mental vertigo. Floundering around the tidal pool it donned on me. “What better person to be buried alongside than the one person who has loved me unconditionally my entire life?” I wouldn’t mind a bit. Hahaha!!! My family cracks me up with their un-adultered honesty. Curt is a word often used to describe our way of life. Our words are never intended to hurt, but we never expect to have to coddle each other through truths. Which brings me to the next subject…

  I am in fact a 32 year old single female, which I don’t think is terribly crazy. However, if you happen to be a 32 year old single female who lives in Boise Idaho, people treat you like you have recently found out you are the carrier of a terminal disease. Not to fear people!!! It’s not contagious, and although diseased with singledom, I am much happier now than I have been in certain points of relationships. I often have to explain to people, that there is a magnanimously monumental difference between being alone, and being lonely. Allow me to be honest, there are times when I do cross over to lonesome-town, but it’s not a place I care to stay, and I find myself retreating from its wreckage like a fumigated cockroach scattering for safety.

  I have been the focus of several interesting conversations, highlights of my favorite lines include “Well, you’re you WANT to have kids someday?” or “ You know that after the age of 36, it’s considered a geriatric pregnancy, right?” While it would be easy to take these words as jabs or insults, I know that they have been granted with the utmost intentions of love. People who love you, would like to see you happy. I had a great conversation with my friend Nick, about being single, he so graciously said “I don’t get it, you’re one of the nicest, smartest most talented women I know, and here you are, single. How does that happen?” I have officially been single for 2 years this month. I have made so many questionable choices in that time, one of which included me attempting to hike 1800 miles, and only succeeding in about 600 of them :) I have cried so hard sound refused my company and only silence escaped my quivering lips. I have laughed myself to tears through joy squinted eyes. I have been more confused in social settings than I have since junior high, I’ve even been responsible for creating a few of them, if in doubt just ask me about a couple of my recent dates. So to answer the question, I guess I can say, I am pretty much living a life, and a good one at that.

  Moving on to the next quandary. How to fill my time. 5 days a week I work at Peaceful Belly Farm. This is my 5th year working for a wonderful company which has reshaped my life in so many ways, it’s difficult and perhaps even scary to think of where I would be, or what on earth I would find acceptable to eat, if i hadn’t been a part of it. The rest of the time...what the hell do I do? I feel like I just bounce around aimlessly most of the time. I hide in my room a lot, having turned into a semi-professional hermit. On occasion I frequent a bluegrass or metal show at a local venue. I have found that I have shed a few friends in the manner that I love them, but have decided it’s okay to love people from afar. Sometimes, you grow apart. Sometimes you realize you were never in sync. Sometimes you question whether they were true friends or just applying you as a tool to climb or maintain a plateau in the social constructs in which you reside. And sometimes, none of the above happen, but you found you have let someone go without prompting, and that’s okay too. I have found some of my friendships rekindled and strengthened, either through silent stealth, or screaming from the rooftops of angst and companionship. For all of which I am thankful.

  I long for the toddler days of the playground where making new friends was as simple as asking, “Do you want to be my friend?” A moment of reflection, followed by immediate rejection or acceptance. Rarely found as an adult. Replaced by a contemporary dance of wooing. When I was a child I tried taking dance...I just didn’t get it. I didn’t care to learn a routine, I just wanted to listen to music, in a room, with other kids, and move my body around to the sound of the drums. I had no clue what I was signing up for, and in the metaphorical dance of life I would say I am still confused by all the created rules, but I refuse to stop moving to the beat! My friend Todd will tell you, I can mosh to anything. What I can’t do is change the cadence. When did asking a person of the opposite sex if they wanted to hang out, become an immediate implication of romantic intentions? I just do not understand social constructs sometimes. I’ll let you imagine how many uncomfortable situations I have been privy to, because of my complete lack of social awareness. Let the list of blunders and hilarious stories collect.

  I recently found out I am neurotic. I don’t remember the day exactly, but I imagine finding this out is similar to the day you realize colors have names. It’s not so much that you didn’t know they existed, it’s more that you never thought to differentiate them. The perceptions of others will project onto your own. I fought the idea of neurosis. I even had my friends who pointed it out to me look up the term immediately, which is perhaps a neurotic response, only to find most of the “symptoms” hit home, or at least stole third.

  So, what is this socially inept, single 32 year old wandering woman’s point? Nothing really. I think sometimes I just have to write things out to understand myself a bit better. Sometimes my life feels hard. Sometimes my life feels incomplete. Sometimes I forget to feel lucky, but I’m smart enough to try.

  Here are a couple photos, as proof that I do actually leave my house sometimes.

Clear Lake in Mount Hood National Forest

I mean really, are you surprised?