I’m six months back in the state of California. Myriad things had turned my mind south in Oregon and I was halfway here before my body caught up. I left behind friends and a world I had I grown to love, but I left it for the comfort of knowing my mom wasn’t alone while she went through cancer treatments. Miles came back with me, since a half-hearted attempt at trying to fit into a corporate structure backfired mightily, and between these factors our psyches began making the sounds that cars make before their engines explode. A slight, consistent hiss. When we left Home Number Two, there was sleet coming down and a sky the color of a trout’s belly; everything felt both rushed and incredibly tedious. The business of heading into sickness and fear makes the mind play tricks on itself; I wobbled between a desperate desire to stay and a dire need to go.
When we rumbled down highway 101 in our moving van, car attached, into the heart of pasture and vine country, the hills were a blinding emerald, the edges of fields glinting with a confounding dew the likes of which I had not witnessed since I was a child. My California eyes, weary with seeing nothing but drought for most of my life, were not used to such Technicolor. The late winter sky was a soothing blue, like something from a brochure for therapists. A fact not lost on me. The air smelled dry, even in the rain, reminding me that I was Home (Number One). A touch of spice from blackberry briars, an aroma I knew would rev up in the summer heat. A splash of honeysuckle. Eucalyptus. Car exhaust. Restlessness.
I tried to find a path when I arrived, something only for me. But I was too broke to explore too far so I tried to keep my adventures closer to home. I tried to find the fighters. I needed to find that camaraderie. When November 8th happened–sitting in a friend’s living room in Portland with a group of like-minded souls, our hands over our gaping mouths in horror, tiny paper flags wilting on the cupcakes we no longer had an appetite for–the only thing that kept me from despair was climbing the eerily silent on-ramp of Interstate 5 on foot, linking arms with thousands of other souls and stopping cars with our noise and bodies, shaking bridges with our weight, tears in the eyes of people at their high-rise windows, tears in my own eyes, heart and blood alive. The rumpus. The roar. The collective anger that kept the despair away like a bonfire staves off shadows. It made me feel quieter inside.
But I found that it was not the same here. The world, now, was quiet. Or I had just become too loud. Hard to tell. I learned quickly that the anger I had taken comfort in, that had protected me from tailspin of depression, was not welcome in these parts. What I perceived as bravery and hope was perceived by others as negativity. I went to gatherings and found the only words that came out of my mouth were bitter ones. I thought I was being hilarious! Nope. The words dropped like stones at others’ toes. I went back to Miles’ and my borrowed home and reprimanded myself for trying to connect. “You don’t know how to do that!” I reminded myself. “Not here, anyhow.”
I suppose this whole adventure that I’ve gone on, this roam, this seek, fueled at first by Miles but now wholly engulfed by the fire of my own soul, was not, in fact, an adventure. It was just a seed, planted where I did not know there was soil in which to grow. But it’s a lonely adventure. And a quiet one.
I am a cargo ship. I am laden with innumerable tonnes of things and I grow and grow and grow and I can’t seem to stop. When you stand near me I am colossal. You cannot see the end of me. I am a confusion of supplies and goods and services and there is no rhyme or reason to everything I hold within. But stand on the shore and look at me now. I am floating on a water so vast I am small again. I am contained, and and from afar I can be seen with eyes of judgement; I can be valued, I can be measured.
Can you see me now, Home Number One?