Tuesday, November 17, 2009

pre-perepatetic prep

"Go, go, go, go, go you restless soul...you're going to find it."
Daniel Johnston
, Go

The countdown is on (again). Tomorrow I'll be roaming the streets of my beloved San Francisco for the holidays, followed by a final day of teeth-fixing back in the Chi before heading off to the southern hemisphere for the winter. It's all very exciting. I can only think two things: 1) I am so ready, and 2) I am so scared.

I should be packed by now but I haven't really done shit. I tell myself that I'm going to a major metropolitan city after all, not the middle of the Amazon. Pre-trip prep in this case is really about mental preparations and not remembering to bring band-aids and floss (although I've read that tampons are hard to come by in Buenos Aires--really?).

But let's be honest here. I've largely avoided any kind of preparations largely out of fear, though, and not out of confidence. Because when I think about spending the next few months abroad, I get very nervous and scared. Specifically I fear the night that I don't have any planned distraction and end up feeling incredibly lost and lonely and think that as much as I try to elude this feeling, it will always be there. Furthermore, the more I move about, the more likely it is that I will feel lost and lonely. This makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

I think that a week in SF with friends will help to remedy my low levels of self-confidence. My extremely peripatetic friend (thank you, Bill Waterson, for teaching me this wonderful word) will be in town, so I am looking forward to hearing some of his insights on why we are so goddamn antsy. It's funny; I used to think he was somewhat delusional. It seemed like any time he was dissatisfied with things, he just picked up and moved somewhere else. This boy goes through apartments the way normal people go through underwear. I viewed his tendency to relocate as something of a neurosis, but lately I've been thinking that maybe he's onto something. When you fear being lost and alone and force yourself through this all the time, the possibility of this becoming a reality either fades or intensifies, and the outcome appears to be entirely under your control. This is a tremendous rush and relief, and it is quite addictive. In my little tastes of solo travel this past year, I got huge charges out of finding peace of mind both by myself and in the company of strangers in surreal circumstances. One day I will write a book about it.

Until then, I'll continue to pursue these frightening situations. It's a little masochistic, but I've become quite driven by it. I don't indulge in any more desperate fantasies that by switching locations, I will suddenly become enlightened as to my place in the world, or to the meaning of life, but I know the more I risk loneliness and confusion, the happier I am (and the more likely it is for me to meet my charming foreign life partner). Although not knowing what's going to happen is scary, what's even scarier is feeling like I know exactly what will happen...day...after day...after day...

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