Yes, it’s been a long time. In fact the longest time since I started this blog that I haven’t poured e-ink onto these pages. It’s been nagging at me, but the truth is, I simply haven’t been inspired enough to make the effort that now seems more like a responsibility than the catharsis it used to be. I guess that’s to be expected given the circumstances, but it’s still a bit disappointing. I arrived here mid-late February, stayed a month, left for Montreal for a month, returned and have been here now just over 2 months. I’d love to say a lot has happened, but it doesn’t feel that way.
So what have I learned? Little. Perhaps all this time has provided is the opportunity to process and rehash all that’s happened over the past 2 years. While I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to spend some down time with little to worry about because my dad insists on spoiling me with amazing meals and a comfortable home, I can’t deny the lack of excitement and options in my life at the moment. But, that’s ok. I knew this was how it would be. It’s funny, every few months I come back to these pages and re-read what I’ve written to see if things have changed, if what I’ve written is still relevant, if my perspectives have changed. I relive the moments that inspired my writings and get thrown back into the experiences and the excitement or the darkness. I follow the roller-coaster of emotions I’ve been on, the lows and highs, the eye-rolling self-doubt and the annoying self-absorption and at times it makes me cringe, but I can’t deny that there is truth in what I’ve shared, ugly as much of it is. For now, I’m in safe place, too safe, working towards a singular goal and while it’s been more snail-paced than I would have liked, I can’t deny a certain level of progress. I am eating well, that’s to my dad’s cooking, I’m meditating on and off, I’m having bouts of near depression and heightened productivity, and I’m spending time with family. I have no reasons to complain, but when has that ever stopped me?
I won’t get into the vapid materialism of this place, the waste, the inefficiencies and ignorance that is Florida, with it’s abundant water, and sheer lack of recycling or awareness of the scarcities that exist on the planet. I’ve shared that already. Yes it tugs at the depths of my soul, but I’m trying to put aside the things I can’t control (part of my AA training, hehe). Yes, I’m looking forward to leaving this place, but given I don’t know when or if I’ll see my Dad again, or the rest of my family here, given the comfort I have here, and the security that comes with it, I can’t say a part of me isn’t worried about the next leg. From here, a few weeks in Montreal awaits, then the planet’s beckoning call will be heeded. What can I do but follow instructions?
My life here has consisted of little else but work, research, reading, watching tv, sharing meals and laughs with family, and trying to figure out not what, but how the next steps will play out. As time starts to run out, I’m making more of an effort to find the right balance and recently that’s been working out a bit. But there are still so many unknowns. You’d think I’d be used to unknowns, but I’m finding them a bit annoying currently.
I guess the most significant period in the past 4 months was going back to what used to be home. I don’t want to minimize how amazing it’s been to spend time with my dad here, to learn from him how to play the stock market, to see how he’s changed, to feel viscerally and witness first hand his faults finally from a perspective of being on equal footing as an adult and fellow human, to just share a random laugh, to talk politics and sink into the sheer disappointment of the realities of a Trump presidency. It’s been awesome. He’s amazing (Dad, not Trump, in case there was any doubt). I couldn’t ask for a better father, a better friend, or a better role model, peppered with faults and idiosyncrasies. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have this fascination and new depth of appreciation for people’s faults and how they play out. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t necessarily find them singularly beautiful, but I have recognized that I find the way they interact, contradict and enhance each person’s personality absolutely beautiful. The more I see them – and this changed a few months ago where it went from appreciation and judgment to simple awe – the more I realize how incredible the mixes of traits in each of us is. I wish I could articulate this more clearly, but it’s been one of my biggest sources of what little inspiration I’ve had over the past few months. My dad’s beautiful, not because of how amazing he is, but because of how flawed he is, mixed with all the incredible aspects of his personality. I can only hope to be as beautifully flawed and imperfect. And I’m seeing that more in everyone I’m interacting with and it never ceases to make me smile. But I digress. I was in fact talking about my most significant period.
Montreal. Was a mind-fuck. I was nervous to begin with, partly because I was going up for work-related reasons and partly because it was still “winter” which I was dreading and ill-prepared for. There was also the matter of V, but I’ll get into that soon. The flights were plagued with choppy air and discomfort, delays and annoyances, but I still found it exciting and a perfect metaphor for how I was feeling inside. It was time to see what home would feel like when it was no longer that. Taking a taxi to my friend’s in the dead of night, late by a couple hours, and on winter roads, feeling completely disoriented, (which was a surprise) was not the best start, but I was given an amazing room, a great bed and the welcome embrace of good friends once I arrived. The next few days of business meetings, discomfort brought on by a lack of preparedness and the prevalence of French within a professional context, were not fun. I felt completely out of place on so many levels. Montreal no longer felt like home. It was as though I had walked into a dream of a place I knew was Montreal but where everything was out of place. Leaving the house was further complicated with the inevitable and palpable sense that I was trespassing on V’s territory, on her home, a home I had no right to visit again. I both feared and looked forward to bumping into her on the street, knowing full well that was highly unlikely. So, all in all, even while surrounded by the few friends I was open to spending time with, Montreal was particularly desolate and lonely and winter didn’t help to mitigate that feeling. It wasn’t all heavy, and I certainly enjoyed the moments with the 4 or 5 closest friends I have there, but it just didn’t feel like home anymore which, given how much it had been home before, left me feeling conflicted and confused much of the time.
Work was a disaster. My mandate wasn’t clear in my mind and having been so disconnected to that world for so many years on top of the past 2 years of solitude, made it a really discouraging and disheartening experience. It wasn’t just being thrust back into a world I hadn’t been a part of that sucked, but the fact that so much of it was in French. The irony is, that my French had actually improved since I left Montreal. You’d be surprised how much French is spoken on the road. If there’s one thing that’s evident it’s that the French are among the biggest travelers out there and it’s rare not to find at least one in whichever hostel you’re in, so I actually spoke more French while traveling than I did in Montreal. Go figure. But the French I was speaking was casual, small talk, maybe political. But thrust into the professional world, I tensed up and remained aloof. I realized that the issue isn’t with how well or how badly I speak the language. The issue is and always has been with my sense of guilt, my sense of inadequacy and insecurity. I carry this deep sense of self-disappointment and failure in regards to French that creates massive blocks that I simply never overcome, particularly in Francophone environments. It’s bullshit, but it’s the reality and one I need to overcome or I’ll never make any sort of progress there. While most wouldn’t think it, French has always been more important to me than it seems. Unfortunately my insecurity belies my interest and proficiency. Add to that the cold and lack of life that accompanies it, and I found myself sinking into a well of inertia. Had it not been for plans to see friends, I would have gladly spent my days in bed. I couldn’t summon up the energy to be excited about anything. That’s not something I’m expecting for my next foray into my ex-home.
Of course, the story isn’t complete. I have to mention what was one of the most significant aspect of my time there, and that’s the elephant in the room. V. I mentioned feeling as though I were trespassing, but that’s a small part of how she dominated my time there. I never saw her or spoke to her, but she surrounded me every second that I was there. It’s not as though I was unaware of how big a part of my life she still occupies, but being there made things particularly obvious. It forced the issue back to the surface. I had this recurring fantasy, almost every time I walked around the city and often even when I was “home” of going to her place, ringing the doorbell, hiding until she opened the door then flash-hugging her for a few seconds, and walking away. Every time I thought of this, regardless of where I was, a smile would fill my face, and sometimes a chuckle would slip out. Had I thought for one second she’d appreciate it, I wouldn’t have hesitated, but it seemed like a particularly selfish act and one that didn’t take her feelings or circumstances into account, one that was simply too risky. I never did it. But what that obsessive fantasy did bring home was the simple fact that she’s still shaping my life in a number of ways. That there still isn’t and likely never will be closure for me here. I can live with that, but it’s certainly not my preference. It’s not a desire to be with her (though I can’t say I wouldn’t have loved that if that package weren’t so completely rolled up into Montreal; she was my best friend for over 2 years) that drives these thoughts or shapes my perspective on the people I meet or how I look at the world. It’s much more complex. It’s the combination of my actions, the depth of the connection I felt and still feel towards her, the disappointment, the respect and admiration I have for her and the fact that things turned out the way they did. It’s clearly still shaping my behavior and to be honest, I think that’s awesome, but at times I find it heavy and unwelcome.
So, emotionally; work, cold, V, old friends, feeling like a foreigner in my old city, all created a strange sense of confirmation that I wasn’t wrong to leave. My opinion of Montreal and its people hasn’t changed. I exchanged a ton of smiles with people on the streets. I find plenty to love, as I always have, but my original conclusions were reaffirmed; I can’t live my life cold for 8 months of the year and nothing is going to change the effect that has on my body and my soul.
That being said, I’ve come back into the muggy, humid, hot south and this isn’t exactly paradise either. But this was never home and never will be. I don’t like anything about this place, aside from the fact that I’m rarely cold (not including when I’m in an air-conditioned home). But this was never meant to be. It’s a rest-stop on the road to what’s still calling me, but I can’t say I haven’t had moments where I just thought “dude, maybe you should just stop”. But then I think of what I’d be stopping for, and I come up empty. I have no home. I need to accept that. There is no place that feels right for me right now. I know that isn’t permanent, and I’m grateful for the homes I’ve had, but they’re no longer for me, and even while part of me might want to be nostalgic, it always feels forced. True that the 2 sides of my personality; homebody and traveler are at odds, but at no point does the homebody side have a clear advantage or manages to articulate what or where it wants to be.
Soooo….. I’m back here, in the warmth, where people nod and smile, even randomly say hi and are surprisingly approachable, but quickly become representatives of a system I truly dislike. That’s ok. I can enjoy it in the same way I enjoy every other place on the road, for it’s unique personality and complexities, flaws and idiosyncrasies. I can do that. In the meantime, I’m working on my app, focusing on what’s important and trying to make as much progress as I can so that I can move ahead with as clean a slate as is possible, knowing full well, it’ll never really be clean.
That being said, NOW, I’m very much looking forward to going back and spending a few weeks in Montreal again, in the full of summer, knowing what emotions to expect and in PARTICULAR to have a personal, emotional and spiritual mission to spend 4 days dancing, sleeping under the stars, swimming in a river and sharing air with some of the most amazing creatures the earth has produced. THAT, is a great reason to go back “home”. Yes, for that I am truly excited. It’ll have special meaning this time around and I plan on soaking that in with a level of pathos that will be unique this time around. It’s a good goal, it feels right and it’s something I’ve been wanting for 3 years now.