Written between August or September 2017
Roughly four months. That’s how long I was able to last pretending to be normal, back in America, a college graduate with a student services desk job. I should say barley four months. No, it’s not boredom. It’s not being “too big” for a university town, which again is my hometown. Not any of that. It’s that I’ve got to move, like those fish that stop breathing if they stop moving. I’ve got to head on down that road made by walking. For a while I got a taste of this, but during the fellowship it was like learning to swim. It was the form, the muscle memory, just the basics. But the marathon is creeping up. Either I take it, or let it pass. But letting it pass would be the most foolish thing I could do. And I fear what would happen if I do not move.
It’s the end of summer now. The days are growing shorter, the weather tumults and kicks like an angry mustang, and in Ann Arbor my favorite streets and cafe tables are taken up by the armies of young rich students, on a skim of the surface so much alike to me, but so far, far, far from who I am. The quite smells of summer are swallowed by the chatter and cheers of an elite university. The streets are replaced with commodity chains, the shop-owners can only be elated at the rip-off prices. Somehow it all misses the disabled vendors but sometimes hustled on the corner. In any case it’s time to leave. It’s easy to say “it’s not so bad” when one becomes accustomed to the spirt draining world. Is there an alternative. Who knows? But I’d rather risk the very little here and at least look again, then to play-it-safe and hide from reality.
I sit at the cafe I love. On the sidewalk where chainsmokers read bare their eyes, and where J has 10 million cross-word puzzles rippling across the unconsciousness of every cup of coffee. “I feel like I don't belong here…” A graduate student sits with a friend, he wears designer shades that hide red eyes, a cropped beard hides his child-like face, his comb-over hides creeping baldness, this boots and cuffed jeans hide his crumpled conformity. The two have been angrily discussing something I cannot hear for the past 20 minutes. I have not paid much mind to it other than feeling bad for the fool. And knowing it is is slightly, at least ominous to those who wait. Who stay when they should run. His voice cracks in anger and his hands shake. He gulps down marlboro smoke. On either side of me two South Asian men sit, (that would make potentially three if you include me, confusing the world). One reads his paper, a man I often see who takes Saturdays and the mornings to sit and read. Or just sit. We talk occasionally. A friend whose name is simply friend. The other a recent student on visa, I assume from India he wears heavy cologne and smokes a camel slowly, his hair balding but gelled in a familiar fashion. He reads the Business Times of India on his phone.
I sit and type. I look around. I think about the job I just quit yesterday. I’ll stop by in a few to give a formal letter of resignation. Reading, writing, and walks, occasionally the gym for weight exercises. These things take up my days. Cooking too, talking with L as well. I would prefer to go to the river and sit and do all of that. But I’m still mildly responsible. Mildly. I’ll head into work soon.
Maybe soon, in the spring, or in the summer Ill head to spain and walk the camino and visit K who now lives with his girlfriend someplace in Galacia. I think that’s one option among the innumerable. Maybe To México to set up a fulbright and get back on that path I was on with something more close to heart and home. Or maybe something I haven’t even seen. Something that will open up on the road. Who knows.
“My soul is like a river, and you’ve been damming it too long”