Archive for November 11th, 2009

WalkabOut of the Box

As I was preparing to go on this little expedition, many people I told about it responded with a puzzled, incredulous, “Really??” and reacted as though it were some fearsome undertaking.  Obviously not everyone responded thusly, but some degree of incomprehension and doubt was common.  And I started to buy into that story, of this being something daunting, dangerous, deviant even.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the frontier:  Once I’d gone, everyone, to a person, was cheering me on from all directions and media, hailing “You go girl!” or some rough equivalent.

I think it is worth noting what people perceive as possible, or reasonable, from within the frameworks of their lives, and how they transmit that to others.  At a unique distance from most of the people in my life (but for the friends I was occasionally staying with or visiting along the route), I was gaining a fresh perspective on how we communicate certain things to one another, both subtly and blatantly.  It is dangerously easy to impose the parameters of one’s own container upon another; conversely, it is also far too easy to judge another as, or for, living in a particular box.  In our human fear of the unknown, we are so apt and ready to convey our own discomfort and anxieties regarding the actions of another, even when the conditions of that other’s life do not match or mirror our own.  This may seem obvious, or a truism, but I can only say that I perceived it with a new curiosity and clarity from the distance of the road.

Another unexpected effect of this journey has been one wrought by the seeing of old friends along the way.  I had been lucky enough of late to go six nights in a row without staying in a hotel room, and got to see a number of “long-lost” friends in addition to those whose homes I stayed in.  Besides having seen my old friend Stacy while in Boulder, and a bevy of extended comrades in Dallas, I enjoyed a warm and comfortably boisterous Sunday brunch with Ty’s family before departing Albuquerque for the second time.  I had not seen Ty’s aunts and uncle (his functional parents) in about eight years.  Both Ty and I have been through divorces since then, each of us is now living a completely different life, and I feel like an entirely altered person.  Oh, how I enjoyed that brunch!  I felt so free, joyous, and filled with love for this family of friends!  Afterwards, as I headed eastward on I-40, it hit me just how strong a medicinal effect seeing all these old connections has had on me.  This was not something I had anticipated on this trip (even though I had not known what to expect).  Each renewed contact has felt fully alive, present, vital.  And despite each person or household having its own distinct character, each also somehow managed to feel homey and welcomingly familial as well.  Could it be that I am at last finding it easier to make myself feel at home, period?

Sunday after brunch, I left Albuquerque in high spirits.  That sense of feeling just really good, which I’d observed the day before as I left Colorado, remained with me as I began my return eastward on I-40 through New Mexico.  Beneath yet another wide blue sky with low, pouffy cumulous clouds and all kinds of space and light, I experienced another soundtrack moment.  This time, despite knowing I was on the return leg of this journey but would prefer to be out and about much longer, I was listening to the Cleveland Orchestra play the end of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and felt its victorious theme to be the musical counterpart to this non-invisible moment of my life.  The jubilant, proclamatory strains were the perfect accompaniment to my mood and awareness:  the feeling that somehow, some way, there’s been a shift, and I felt good.  I felt in my bones (the very ones that Mussorgsky’s brass was rattling) that this trip was so the right thing to do, and that certainty felt triumphant as well.  I had climbed out of my own box, and any others anyone else had wanted to impose on me, and managed to do something entirely of my own making, without caving in to the whispering masses, real or imagined.  And as I had on the evening I arrived at the Grand Canyon, and upon reaching nearly 11,000 feet on my birthday, I again received a glimmered sense of feeling proud of myself.

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