Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finding What You Aren't Looking For

“Help,” I felt like saying as he rambled on, “I need your help.”
Instead, I sat and listened as he quoted home prices.
“The houses across the street are nice, and they cost a little more – two twelve, maybe two fifteen.”
As Brad inhaled his Marlboro Red, I stifled my words. I realized that he didn’t’ want to talk about it – what I wanted to talk about. He wasn’t interested in what I wanted to say; that I was afraid, felt alone, had taken an entire road trip based on the idea that that there was hope out there somewhere for me, if I could only find it. What did my hope look like? I think I imagined it to be an old friend telling me that he was impressed with where I had been and what I had done. Maybe, just maybe, I was looking for some reassurance that my life had not been wasted traipsing all over the world instead of aiming for the normal route – job, husband, family, in that order.
Instead, I found Brad, eight years after I first met him in Spain, with a 24-year-old wife and a two-and-a-half-year-old son who screamed for attention and was constantly praised for being a good boy.
Whatever I was looking for, it wasn’t this. It wasn’t suburbia, with a house in a development with 500+ homes in seven different styles. It wasn’t living in the middle of Montana, making a lot of money but having no friends and moving around every six months following the promotions. Whatever hope I was looking for, it wasn’t here.
What was here was my past. Even that had been marred.
“Man, I didn’t imagine you to be the one who would keep traveling,” Brad said when I first arrived. His pretty blonde wife was chasing their son around in the other room. Considering they had a two-year-old, the place was clean and well decorated.
“Oh yeah?” I asked, “What did you think I would do?”
“I don’t know…get your masters in writing or something.”
“Ah.” I paused, stuck at what to say. “Who did you think would do the traveling, then?”
Brad thought it over.
“I don’t know,” he said, “It wasn’t going to be Mary…not Tim…I guess I would have said me, at that point. I might have done it – gotten myself lost in South America or Africa or somewhere, if I hadn’t met Ashley.”
There it was. Suddenly he’d lost me.
If I hadn’t met Ashley.
A boyfriend once asked me – assumed of me, in fact – whether I would stop traveling when we got married. Perhaps I haven’t found that sort of love yet. Perhaps this is naïve of me, but damn it if I hope I never find that kind of love.
Brad made me feel like I could have made something more of myself if I had only gone to get more schooling. Perhaps, maybe, I could have had a different life if I had only chosen differently. But you know what? I didn’t choose differently. I chose to run across the world every chance I got, take every opportunity offered to me, and do my best to live it up while I could. Yes, I’ve gotten to the point where I see nominations of currency in the amount of days it could sustain me in a foreign country, but I will carry those memories with me and with more pride for a damn sight longer than Brad remembers his first house. Have your prerogatives, but don’t make them mine.
The happiest I’ve ever felt was on the open road with the window down and my foot on the gas; on the edge of a mountain with the clouds below me and the sun beating down; naked in a river with only the sounds of the water in my ears; surfacing from a night dive on the Great Barrier Reef with my breath as my only company. Is there something wrong with me because these moments were alone? Maybe. Do I give a shit? Not at all.

Love and fed up kisses