I’m home in Boulder for the next five days, three days longer than I have been in town for three months. I’ve been looking forward to this week for a long time, but when I drove into town last night I felt empty instead of relived. I’ve become addicted to the road. The travel creates a sense importance. I need to be places, need to talk to people. Now I am just at home doing laundry.
I wonder if I could do anything, if I just started doing it. And this is not about the skill, but more the tolerance. What can we get used to?
A few weeks ago in Houston I was careening down the highway at 80mph and getting passed on each side of the 7-lane highway at 12:30 am on my way to a hotel. The dome light in my rental car was out, and I used the slight glow from my dying phone to illuminate my directions. In the middle of it, instead of saying I was over it, I was trying to figure out if I could do it. But it really does not matter what you can do. It matters what you want to do. Or it does if you have the luxury of having the time and the resources to make changes from one to the other.
I’m traveling around the country, at the tail end of the initial tour push. Along the way I am seeing everyone from my past, and just now figured out that beyond reconnecting with old friends, I am also trying on alternate versions of myself. There is the urban planner with his pediatric neurologist wife, the entrepreneur, the stay at home dad, the public defender. We all started from the same point. I know I’m lucky to do this. I’m lucky to do a lot of this. But it’s also incredibly tweaky to your head. Because after trying on every pair of jeans nothing feels good anymore and all you want is to just get out of the dressing room.
And so I come home. And I did it even before Boulder. On Friday, my friend Sarah picked me up in her dying Previa Van at the end of the Commuter Rail outside of Boston. I sat on the floor in the back and realized I was breathing differently for the first time in weeks. I like to make things difficult for myself, always have. At one point I was supposed to go to the University of Chicago for college and the reasons I decided that this was the right choice were the following: everyone said it was the socially hardest place to go to school in the US, that it was impossible to have a life there, and that the academics were insane. Great, I thought, I am in. I will go and prove that I can do that.
But proving that I can make it from the financial district to Lowell with 130 lbs of luggage is really not proving anything. I didn’t do this in my twenties, back then I was building a strawbale house on 4.5 acres bordering national forest land. When I left that house and that life, I thought I might have missed out on something else, that I might have wanted to be in central Boston or Miami, or that I should have been. But what I’ve come to figure out is that I might be in the right place after all. I get off the plane in Denver and think yes, this is home. But it only became home once I started going away.
Choices are intoxicating. For all of us. Almost everyone I have visited with says the same thing. It’s like we try to limit them and augment them at the same time. I’d like to think that at some point we just chill the hell out and live them. Or that I will.