Hang on, death; I’ve got places to go and people to meet

I had been talking on the phone with my dad — I’ve discovered, recently, that he’s surprisingly good at listening to my boy woes without interrupting or giving too much advice. I believe that, at one point, he said something like “ghost his ass” — I’m not a hundred percent on the wording, but it seems to stick out.

We also talked about anorexia (it’s re-surging again), and how I definitely get that from my mother.

“You get that from both of us,” Padre said, and I started laughing hysterically, because my father is NOT skinny, and then he laughed too, going on to say that he was actually starting to talk about OCD. I hadn’t realized he had OCD (like mom and I).

“What’s your biggest tic?” I asked.

“Sevens.”

“…sevens?” I repeated, delighted by the weirdness of his answer.

“Yes. Everything has to happen in sevens.”

What an interesting tic, I thought to myself, hating that it was already sounding like a good idea.

I pulled up to the farmer’s market, sat down on a bench, and watched a guy get out of a car with his dog — a big, white and grey Aussie with different colored eyes.

“I’ll let you go, daughter,” dad said. “I can hear that you’re at the place now.”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “I’m sitting on a bench. They’re playing live jazz music. Chris likes jazz. I hate Chris.” We both laughed at the lie, told each other we loved each other, and reminded each other that we’d see each other soon, up there in Nashville.

 

***

 

“Jon!” I exclaimed happily, removing an earbud. “Good morning!”

“What’s up?” my friend smiled, walking over in cool biker gloves and black skate shoes.

This was still yesterday, but a bit later in the morning; I was sitting inside of Red Cat now, and it smelled like coffee beans and sweet bread. “You know, I’m researching the Drake Passage today — FASCINATING!” I shook my head at him. “Have you heard of it?”

He paused to press his lips together and tip his head back.

“It has nothing to do with Drake, by the way,” I added helpfully. He laughed a little.

He didn’t know what it was (and neither did I, until very recently), so I shared with him the little bit of information I’ve gathered so far: The Drake Passage is a body of water (kinda below South America) where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans touch each other, and its volume of passage (whatever the heck that means) is 600 times that of the Amazon River. Sounds like a big deal, right? 

Anyways, the sea gets mega crazy with these upward swells that would blow your mind (and empty your stomach). It takes TWO DAYS to pass through the Drake Passage (catch my play on words there?) and reach Antarctica (from like, Chile).

 

“And I want to experience the Drake Passage soooooooooo badly,” I concluded, finally.

“…really?”

“YES — because maybe you live through it, and you’re different afterwards, or maybe you DON’T live through it… and that’s fine too,” because what a way to GO, I thought to myself, smiling and teeming with excitement over the mystery and danger tangled up with the endeavor.

We chatted for a while longer, both then and later on when he stopped back by the cafe and I was still there, and during our time together, he shared these particularly valuable tidbits with me:

  • If, while biking or doing other activities, you begin to experience muscle cramps, a quick shot of either mustard or pickle juice will almost surely ease your pain. Gross, huh? But why not give it a go!
  • One of his go-to life phrases (that made me laugh and ask him to repeat himself): “I’m too old for this mess… you leave this kind of stuff on the playground in elementary school.” Variations of this (which he also shared) would be preschool or kindergarten. 

And then he was off. I stayed in my chair, eager to resume my research.

***

A woman sitting nearby (who, I’d noticed, had a purple suitcase with her — interesting) suddenly inclined toward me.

“I wasn’t TRYING to eavesdrop,” she began, her novel accent immediately tickling my brain, “but this Drake Passage…”

We discussed it further; I explained to her how my depression steadily cruises along with me and how life-changing or life-threatening events (like hypothetically braving the Drake Passage) help jolt me back. We then discussed Chicago and Ecuador, as well as Michigan and Memphis, and somewhere over the course of an hour, I became friends with this insanely cool British lady named Paula.

Paula worked as an American Studies teacher over in Europe for 30ish years and is now enjoying being retired. She likes to explore the world, take pictures of things she likes, and chill. She’s been visiting the US for the past month, walking and training and bussing her way through the cities and states mentioned above (except Ecuador), and she really is the coolest.

We agreed that traveling alone is so much nicer than traveling in groups (I could name the reasons, but if you’ve already traveled both together and alone before, you know the difference). We exchanged numbers as well as email addresses and then she added me to her photo-sharing group.

I absolutely plan on visiting her sometime in the next few years so that we can wander the Jurassic Coast together (more ocean! more waves! more danger!) and, hopefully, catch up with David Tenant at some point (I know it’s lame, but I COULDN’T HELP but bring up Doc Marten and Broadchurch during our conversation — we’ve both seen the shows, and we both love those guys). After touring the Jurassic Coast, I intend to travel through the mainland of Europe solo, checking into hostels and AirBnBs in Portugal, Spain, Germany, and Italy… I would also love to place my feet in Ireland briefly, where I’m told I have roots.

 

Two things re: Paula and I’s conversation that I’m still thinking about:

A. The “Sleeping Bear Dunes” lake shore she visited while up in Michigan. Looking at her picture of it, you can see that the water itself is separated from the “main” mainland by this steeply slanted stretch of beach — it supposedly takes a full two hours to get down to the water and then make your way back up. I WANT TO GO!

But I want to spend the night camping down by the water with my non-existent boyfriend before coming back. We’ll pack manchego cheese sandwiches on sourdough, gray-green avocados and sprouted chips, and all of the stuff for s’mores… we’ll tell each other tales in Spanish and splash our feet in the water for as long as we’d like, long after 8:30, way past anybody’s bedtime. Talk about magical. And if someone could please tell this mystery man to get his shit together and COME FIND ME, it would be greatly appreciated. 

B. One of her pictures was of an Indian medicine wheel… I don’t know much about it yet (like, I literally know nothing), but the “spoke” or portion of the wheel that drew me in most was called The Season of Planting; it mentioned water, rabbits, and childhood, so it immediately resonated with me. “And the color for this one is yellow,” Paula pointed out. “You’re wearing yellow today!” she smiled kindly, pointing out my shirt as well. That’s why a yellow t-shirt is the “featured image” in this blog post (and that might have been obvious to you — regardless).

 

Talking with Paula was really rejuvenating, because I’ve been (big surprise) sad lately. Sad and lonely, and sad because I’m lonely. I basically feel like an alien without the cool alien status.

While being in water and sitting in coffee shops is helping with this perceived lack of connectedness, I’m realizing that actually engaging with people is important, too; playing a passive role in these various social theaters just isn’t cutting it anymore. It’s time for a little more courage — a little more self-esteem and initiative.

Paula initiated a conversation with me today, and look what came of it: shared joy over travel adventures, new friendship, and (whether they actually take place or not) happy future plans. I need to try initiating conversations like those myself (without being weird and awkward annnnnnnnd — yeah; as you can see, I’m already dreading messing it up). 🙂

Because while observing folks IS great for the imagination and for writing purposes, observing – by itself – doesn’t change you very much… and I’ve found that, when I change, I tend to improve, so I want to keep changing. Post-social-exchanges-and-life-experiences, I end up feeling more intuitive and discerning — more competent and equal and accepted by the world…

And interacting with somebody: looking at them, listening to their voice speak to you, and learning their story… is just way more interesting than simply watching them and feeling, somehow (and senselessly), alienated from them (as well as the rest of the world). At the risk of sounding new age-y as fuck, I believe that, when you share time and space with someone, a spiritual exchange of some kind happens… and paying attention to whether that other person’s spirit and words uplift or deflate you is key.

Basically, look at what you do, who you’re with, and what you tend to think about, as well as how you feel about all of these things… and then change what you need to so that you can change the way you’d like to see yourself change. People (including you) are inherently powerful, and their influence (as well as yours) is sublimely powerful.

 

Somewhat related: School (another social theater) is starting in less than two weeks, and I can’t wait to resume my studies. I’ve been keeping up with Spanish all summer and writing away, as always, so I’m 100% ready to go.

I also can’t wait to embark on all of these loosely-planned travel adventures: braving (and possibly surviving) the Drake Passage; backpacking through Europe with Paula and Tenant; mapping out a more thorough visit through several Latin American countries; and camping out on some lake shore in Michigan (with or without a boyfriend)… oh, the waterfalls! The avocados! The lattes and book shops and scrambled eggs everywhere! My parents and I are checking Nashville out together (for the first time EVER) next month… it sounds like music’s a pretty big deal up there, and the place appears to have no shortage of coffee shops, so I’m very much looking forward to the trip.

 

And, in summary, I’m re-realizing (because I do remember it, sometimes) that I’m definitely not ready to go yet (and by go, I mean go bye-bye; like, die-die). And that’s good! It really is. So here’s to talking with people and going places. *Raises latte and says something distinctly British, like cheers — quite mint, innit? Let’s splash out!*

[If you DO visit that hyperlinked website (clickable, above), holy shite… this one British-ism had me laughing like a goon. Apparently, “pants” means rubbish or trash, and the example given is simply “That is pants.” I’m going to start saying this as often as possible: “WHAT? There’s no Chipotle in Durango, Colorado?! Freaking pants.“]

 

Still here,

Aun Aqui

 

PS: I was finally able to touch base with one of my homeless friends yesterday morning — he DOES like peaches, so I shared two with him. His name, I discovered, is Stuart, and he is very, very nice.

PS^2: I was feeling glum last night (another emotionally-void-dude situation), so I made magic veggie sketti for Charlie and I (and I realized, immediately after publishing this, that “magic sketti” sounds like drugged sketti — I assure you, it was not). It helped a little. Is there a special meal that warms you up? 

 

 

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