16/12/2012 § Leave a Comment
I haven’t worked less than 65 hours per week in over a month, most weeks easily breaking 70. The constant exhaustion as I move from one job to the next has made it easy for me to not think about the holidays. Well, I lied. I’ve had one thought about the holidays: Dear God, I cannot wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas to be over. Maybe then I’ll get some sleep.
I am relieved that I have not had the time to ponder about the holidays, the meaning of which has drastically changed since my nineteen year old self moved to Switzerland. The previous eighteen holiday seasons of my life were pleasant, enjoyable, but they never meant the world to me, perhaps just one of the reasons why I gained a grinch like reputation.
But since I moved to Switzerland my perspective has changed. Now when I think of Christmas my thoughts hopelessly tangled with the extraordinary beauty of a European Christmas and the conversations of two people on a self-inflicted exile, thousands upon thousands of miles away from home. Even though it had only been several months ago that we shook the dust from our sandals as we left America, we talked of how we longed to be there, how we counted the days (which was remarkably easy, as we always seemed to fly on the same day). And between our talks there were our new lives. Surrounded by other strangers in a strange land, we made our own holidays. I celebrated Orphan Thanksgivings, sometimes by drinking boxed wine, sometimes by eating nutella and cranberry sauce on bread, but the very fact we called them orphan dinners highlighted our displacement. These events stand out in my memory as some of the most beautiful moments in my life- moments when I was entirely happy in the present with these odd circumstances whilst simultaneously being more hopeful and optimistic about what was to come.
Perhaps we were just delusional. Perhaps we were just expecting that somehow upon our return, the things that we ran from would no longer be there. That perhaps the people we had wanted to chase after us would suddenly welcome us back and embrace us as we hoped. No matter. I cried when I heard Josh Groban’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” that you sent me and I cried when I watched the opening scene of Love, Actually. This was our life.
Fast forward. I’m again surrounded by a European Christmas. I’ve never felt Christmas be so magical or so beautiful as when I was living in Europe. I can’t explain it. Perhaps it was merely the old world charm coupled with all these crazy emotions, trying to make sense of it all. But between all of the lights and the snow on cobbled streets, I am again happy in the present whilst excited beyond reason for the future. Again, thoughts of Christmas were intertwined with you. This time, however, I got to see a Christmas where people actually cared immensely about the details and the course of the day. Whilst Christmas for me meant breathing a sigh of relief, for you it was a beautiful ritual. It was foreign, I didn’t know what to do. And, (as I often am) I was a day late and a dollar short in figuring it out.
And so here we are, in the present. Or rather, here I am. You are nowhere to be found. This Christmas will just be a well needed and long over due day for sleep. And the hope and anticipation that I had in those odd and foreign moments of perfect contentment is gone too. In its place is that hope that hurts. The kind of hope that’s like a serrated knife in your heart every time you think about it because every thought of what could be is a reminder of what isn’t and how very far away obtaining it is. And so I won’t. Tomorrow and the next day and the next day I’m going to work my ass off, take yoga class, and sleep far less than I need. And I’ll try to forget that last year I also thought, maybe next year.
10/08/2012 § 1 Comment
It is very difficult to build a new life on top of an old one. Because, obviously, there were reasons that you left your old life for a new one. You can not simply unmake the choices that you made in the past that cause this tension here in the present. You weren’t supposed to come back like this. Not now, and definitely not alone.
But we are now one year into repatriation, I’m still trying to work all this out. They say pain reaches the heart at electric speed, but truth moves as slow as a glacier. Which apparently is about one foot per day. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what truth it is that I’m waiting to catch up with me. I feel like it will be a painful truth, that will somehow be strangely comforting. That is, if I ever stick around long enough for it to catch up. But at this rate, though, I think it might. If I had the opportunity to leave now, I would put as much space between myself and that glacier.
I’ve read somewhere that the phrase “I hope you find what you’re looking for” is a curse in disguise. I still hope it, for you and for me, with the best of intentions. I wonder if you know what it is you’re looking for any more than I do. One year into living back in America has not yet provided me with any progress towards what I think I’m looking for. America talks a big game- land of plenty, full of dreams, opportunities, and possibilities. For a long time, I happily rejected this idea. America was for later, if ever. But then things changed, as they always seem to do. I remember distinctly thinking, “the time is now. This is where the best adventure will begin.” I wanted to come back and trade my suitcase for a closet full of high heels and a kitchen with real anthropologie dinner plates. I was ready for America, I knew what I was looking for and I felt the details would just all fall into place. But then things changed. And changed again. I had never felt such dread as I boarded that plane. [Hur ska jag gå hem när allt är såhär? Jag vet du kommer att se på mig sådär och säga "Vad har du gjort ikväll? Och vad har du bestämt? Du sa du behövde tid, du hade tid."] But here I am, hesitant to make plans or dream dreams as nothing seems to be working out for me. Any forms of hope just lead to a knife in my gut and the time that I’ve had has done me no good.
So America. I’ve given you 1 year of my life. You’ve given me discouragement, sadness, and a loneliness entirely unparalleled to that of living alone in a foreign country. Please get your shit together. Give me a reason and a means to build an established life or let me go back to the one suitcase life. Either way, give me a change. Because this right here is not at all how things should be.
I realize this is not a happy post. But as an expat and as a relatively recent graduate into the suckiest economy ever, this is how I feel. And this is the conversation I’m having over and over again with pretty much everyone I know who doesn’t live in this zip code. And so this is for you, as much as it is for me. We will continue searching, waiting, and running to catch that next train that will take us over the horizon. But in the meantime, I feel the depth of your discouragement at being rejected time after time and the insanity caused by being without a plane ticket. You feel defeated. You feel trapped. I know. So let’s open up that bottle of fine scotch and drink it like cheap whisky. It’s what this place has done to us.
10/06/2012 § Leave a Comment
[Lately I've been dreaming of you]
Lately there’s a little more to fill the void. Six days a week my life looks like this: Work the early early hours, take my hot yoga class, come home and nap/read by the pool and then go to bed . The seventh day I always clear my schedule and hold my breath for those calls that will never come, those invitations to share a lazy Sunday together on the couch watching tv, or on the river counting the stars, or on a back patio watching fireflies and drinking beers.
It’s really not a bad life. I may lack community and money, and nothing I am doing is helping me achieve any of my long term goals, but it’s not so bad. [you're only the best I ever had] I’m at least flexible and tan.
But you know that feeling you get in your gut when you have an idea that could change everything forever? Maybe it’s a change for the better, or maybe for the worse. But you know that if you act upon this idea there will always be a before and an after. It’s that feeling that’s keeping me going, though I’m not sure how many more knocked down ideas my soul can take. Fortunately, being alone produces in oneself feelings of great invincibility. Invincibility feels an awful lot like not feeling anything at all.
However, I feel like now, more than ever before, I know exactly what I want and exactly what I don’t want. But no matter what I do, the fates seem to be against me. The past year, one month, and four days has been all about that. What I want, I cannot have and so I make alternate plans, only to have them become impossible as well. So. What to do with that?
[You expect something, something better than before.
You expected something more.]
01/04/2012 § Leave a Comment
“There will be days to stick your toes in the sand. There will be days for teary good-byes in the middle of a crowded airport terminal. There will be days for leaving, but just as many for coming. There will be days, even years, for loving and mistake making. There will be days for discovering, days for searching, and days for finding. There will be days for crawling under the covers of your bed and disappearing for a while, but there will also be days for pulling yourself up out of rock-bottom and trying again. For every day that you find yourself letting go, there will be another day full of hanging on. There will be days you want to erase; days you hate more than the boy who made you hate it. There will be days for missing home, days for wondering where home is, days for remembering all the homes you’ve created. There will be days etched with words and painted with music beneath a starry sky. There will be days full of saltwater hair and sun freckles, nights full of driving around with the windows down and wind that blows your hair behind you as houses that you’ve never been inside whiz past. There will be days for buying a shirt that cost too much money and you’ll only wear once. There will be days for your hair to never lay quite the way you want it to. There will be days for running away and there will be days for admitting you were wrong. A lifetime of days, and I’m just wondering when mine begin.”
10/03/2012 § Leave a Comment
Time is not even. Space is not empty.
There are lumps and gaps. Stretches and blinks.
It’s like a wrinkle in time-
where a straight line is not always the shortest distance between two points.
“Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.”
To reconcile memory with truth or to reconstruct histories?
Maybe forget both those options, let’s build something entirely new.
Hope- the eighth deadly sin.
Pandora’s box wants to be opened, throw caution to the wind.
The very same wind that was present as you looked up at the stars,
accelerating past those who have ceased to live.
[Because that's when you feel the most alive.]
It’s all a matter of balance, like all the rest of life.
Sometimes it’s pressed so close.
Stomach on thighs, chest on knees, face on shins.
There are no gaps.
Sometimes it’s oceans.
Heart closed off, head focused anywhere else, feet walking away.
Complete silence, but not rest.
“You can’t choose what stays and what fades away.“
06/01/2012 § Leave a Comment
“You know what Charlie told me?” he says, staring at the marks in the snow.
“If you fire a gun, the bullet falls as fast as if you’d dropped it.”
This sounds like something I learned in physics.
“You can never outrun gravity,” Paul says. “No matter how fast you go, you’re still falling like a rock. It makes you wonder if horizontal motion is an illusion. If we move just to convince ourselves we’re not falling.”
“Where are you going with this?”
“It’s like your question,” he says, walking backward in front of me as we head toward the room. “If you could be anywhere, where would you be?” He opens his palms, and the truth seems to land in his hands. “Answer: it doesn’t matter, because wherever you go, you’re still falling.”
The Rule of Four
-Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason-