Sunday, April 26, 2009

on being crazy and a conversation with self

I am sitting.

Where am I sitting, you ask? On my bed, if you must know, but that wasn’t really the point. I am sitting on my life, here in Moscow, and from time to time comes a night like tonight. Out of nowhere, I allow myself to fully realize my nomadic soul, and it glares me in the face and screams that it is dying. We have a brief conversation that I will let my mind linger on for awhile longer, sometimes an entire evening, and the talk usually goes something like this:

“Dayna, it’s me! IT’S ME! For the love of God, please stop… stop with the work, and the classes, and the boyfriend, and the friends, and your never-ending social circle, and your mindless browsing through Facebook, and all of that other crap you use to keep yourself busy… stoppit! Just STOPPIT and talk to me. I miss you, and I’m still in here, you know. In that thing called your heart. Talk? Now? Please?”

“Oh hey, sorry. How have you been Nomadic Me?”

“Damn woman, that took forever. I am suffocating, if you must know. I know we love Moscow, and that it is home and that those things will never change. But you know you don’t belong here, right? You are starting to scare me, and to be honest with you, I’m dying.”

“We went to New York City two weeks ago, didn’t we? Geez, I thought you’d be happy for a bit.”

“No, that’s the thing. It wasn’t long enough. It was like a teaser trip because the trip wasn’t your own. It was for the UN. I didn’t see enough. I mean, meeting up with people and seeing the town through a native’s perspective was so great, and you know how I love meeting new people in strange places. But you got so caught up in what most of your classmates were doing, all those dumb touristy things that millions of other people have done, you didn’t even let me truly breathe.”

“Of course you’re breathing, you idiot, you are me. I’m still breathing.”

“Smart ass.”

“Well, I have been busy!”

“No, you MAKE yourself busy! You make it IMPOSSIBLE to make time for yourself. Hell, we are sitting in bed having this talk, and in ten minutes you are supposed to be ready to go out with Danny and his friends. You don’t even give yourself time to be you, Day. Or for us to be us. I’m not really sure how this works. Anyway, I need you. I need you to recognize that I need you.”

“Fine. I recognize that I need you. And I do so much for you, by the way. I learned Spanish so it will be easier to travel and communicate with strangers, I am studying International Studies, for goodness sake, so that we can learn how to be better global citizens and how to work for more than just some stupid corporation… so we can live for something, you know? So that after I get my degree, we can peace out. We can live in Alaska and count fish, or we can go to New Zealand and live on an organic farm, or we can Couch Surf our way across Europe, you know? I am doing all this for YOU, Nomadic Me. You have some nerve, you know, showing up this late at night, making my day all crappy.”

“You need me too, you know.”

“That’s true. But still, I do a whole hell of a lot. My life is filled to the brim with things to be done, places to see, and you have to just LISTEN when I tell you that being sedentary for awhile is okay. I know we have been in Moscow over a year, and that you start to FREAK OUT at me when that one year marker goes by, but just chill out. Chill.”

“I have been chilling for a long time, D. I need to breathe, to see things, to meet people, to be filled with experience, to be a stranger in a land that you don’t have memorized. I need to hitchhike, to turn with my arms out to the open road, to put unconditional trust in humankind. You need all that too. I am you, by the way.”

“Now who’s the smart ass?”

“Me. Day, I love you. You know how beautifully made you are, and the way your soul is built is not a bad thing. Most people can survive and stay where they are. We were never that way. From day one you colored outside the lines –“

“Because I suck at art.”

“-you took your inflatable globe of the world and planned your life out. You wanted that, even then. You wanted to learn languages and find out more of yourself. The world will teach us what we need to know, why the hell are we still in school?”

“I need a degree.”

“Bull sh-.”

“No, that’s what the economy is. A degree is different. A degree is smart. Ask any college graduate.”

“Yeah, and hey, while you’re doing that, can you ask them how those student loan payments are going?”

“I’m serious, I need one.”

“No, you like learning, so you like school. But you don’t need to be here, Day, here in Moscow. You don’t need to have a stupid piece of paper to tell you that you can do good in the world. You don’t want money later in life, really, so what’s the point? People do it for job security, so they can get paid more, which makes sense. But if you don’t care about money and would live in a shack in Nicaragua, then why? So Mom and Dad will be happy with where you are at, and will say they are proud of you? So your friends that are already graduating anyway will think of you their equal? You already ARE their equal. Cut it out.”

“That’s not true.”

“It IS true. Stop being so defensive and listen to me. You want to travel, right?”

(sigh) “Sure.”

“Yes, you do. So, go teach English abroad. Go hitchhike for a weekend just to get your ass out of Moscow. I JUST NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE!!!”
“Calm yourself. Well, calm, me. We’re gonna work this out.”

“Woo, sorry. Freaked out.”

“I know, it’s fine. We’re cool. We will make a plan. We will get out of this awful place that we still are somehow madly in love with. I just need some time. Some space.”

“You have HAD your space, it’s my turn now.”

“There are no turns.”

“There are SO turns.”

“I will make a plan, don’t worry about it. We will save a few bucks and go to Spokane.”

“Not Spokane again.”

“Spokane. Or Seattle. Or someplace. Maybe find a way to get back to Azusa. I promise you this, we will not be stagnant or sedentary, we will not settle and we will not turn into a degree-seeking person. I mean, we will seek a degree, but that’s not what we’re all about, it’s just a way of getting there. And we will get there. We will go back to Andelfingen and see the sunset over the Alps, and we will go back to Valencia, and you will get to breathe the air of Eastern Europe, and feel the South American spirit floating through the Andes. I will not forget you, and you will not die out like so many dreams do. You are part of me, you know. And I do need you. People think I’m exaggerating when I say that my only passion is to travel and to see things and help people… they think it’s just A passion, or A thing that I love. No, it’s more than that. You take up more of my heart, my thoughts and my time than anything else in this world. This is who I am. I was meant to be a nomad, to be homeless, to live everywhere and nowhere at the same time, to throw away these stupid materialistic lives we get sucked up in, to sell it all and just go. To live on the road, and make money doing odd jobs and meet amazing people doing it.”

“Thanks Day. I really missed you. So, now that you have all that out… you won’t forget me?”

“I really never could, even if I wanted to. I promise.”

Sunday, April 19, 2009

on the boulder in central park by the bridge at midnight

I have wandered.

I have wandered and it has been beautiful. With the chilly air on my bare toes, sitting in Central Park on a boulder that was larger than life, looking at the skyline reflected in the water, the moon keeping me company, and the moving clouds a faded red from the city lights. I have seen. I have seen diversity, and more often than not I have seen beauty instead of ugliness. I have seen strangers become old friends, and I have seen beggars smile with all the riches of the world in their eyes. I have seen safety in what most would deem as dangerous, found comfort in the uncomfortable, found wisdom in what the high and lofty would deem as unwise.

I belong. As new-age as it sounds, as idealistic as I may seem, I have seen these things, and I have found that we are all connected. Somehow. I walk down the crowded streets, and the mostly-vacant ones, and as my eyes connect, I do something unexpected. I smile. Not the half-assed smile of a car salesman trying to sell you a Volvo, or the bartender that just wants her smoke break, but a brilliantly clear, honest-to-God, could-blind-you-in-a-blacklight smile.

And you know what happens?

They smile back.

Common courtesty? Sure, if you think so. What do I think? Connected. If I could spend the rest of my life just learning those connections, just finding that common thread in our clashing tapestries, just discovering new ways to be human and embrace that we are all messed-up and royally complicated... If I could do all those things, then I would die happy and complete, fulfilled in knowing that I learned this world and its people the best I could.

I think I will.