09 November 2011

3 weeks, 6 cities, 11 flights, and 150 beers

It is my plan to write up a nice tidy summary of my vacation, to thank and acknowledge everyone who took the time to visit with us on our whirlwind trip around the US - but I doubt I will be able to do it.  Everytime I try to put words to my emotions, my chest contracts and I begin sobbing.  I'd like to blame it on exhaustion, having averaged 4-5 hours a night of sleep for the last three taco-filled weeks, but I suspect my emotional landscape is far more complicated than that.  I am a jumbled mess of joy, of longing, of pride and of confusion.  It is pure wishfulness on my part to imagine that I can compartmentalize these feelings by wrapping them in witty complete sentences.

However, at present moment, two profound observations have bubbled up through the black tar soup of my recent visitations.  Already, their pungent odiferousness is wafting away on the winds of ordinary life.  I breathe deeply, gasping to keep the memory of the feelings in my nostrils, as if I can preserve time by mere olfaction.

1)  It is a remarkable privilege to spend time with the various generations of one's family.

Being rather firmly entrenched in the middle of life (give or take a decade depending on the graces of  health and circumstance), I have the fortunate perspective to look back on youth and forward to advancing age.  Visiting with parents, grandparents and aunts is like looking through a window into my own future.  Not the rosy imagined future of immortality and endless possibility, but of the real future of losing strength and independence, of becoming sidelined for being slow and cumbersome and possibly ornery.  Visiting with siblings, cousins, and nephews is a window to my own past.  Not the fairy-tale past of knowing that I was god-like in my understanding of the world and my place in it, but of the nightmare truth of how little I really knew then, and worse - of how much less I know now.  I'd like to think that I can apply this insight in some meaningful way to my present life - that I can use it to make better choices, better decisions, but I am crushed by the realization of just how much about life I will never really comprehend.

2) I am homeless.

There are moments when I feel that every place I have ever lived is still 'home', but this time no place that we visited conjured up feelings of enduring security.  More than ever, I was keenly aware of just how transient a life on earth really is.  Driving by past residences did not invoke any sense of belonging - quite the opposite.  More than anything, I wanted to belong to the road again.  I could be perfectly content to continue living out of my suitcase, cruising indefinitely from couch to couch, hotel to hotel visiting friends and family, bouncing from party to party and dinner to dinner.   I feel more displaced than I ever have, and the thought of returning to Adelaide is even worse.  Of all the places I call home, I still feel like a complete outsider there.
 So, dear readers, that is all the wordplay I can allot to my ephemeral epiphanies.  Reality is swiftly calling me to heed the demands of bills, emails, unpaid parking violations and a very hungry bad kitty - those banal activities that deplete my curiosity and leave my vocabulary stranded on the bleak shores of indifference.  Lest you think my whole vacation was steeped in melancholy (which it most certainly was not), I refer you to my Facebook Photo Journal - which features smile upon smile upon smile...but right now, even looking at those pictures makes me want to cry.