An Ornery Return

My reality at the moment centers, as always and probably to too great a degree, around my location.  That location is, and has been for some three weeks, right in the very home in which I spent so many years watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.  I’m back in Los Angeles, where the air is purple and thick, where the streets are glossy with rain and reflection.  Reflection is a funny word, though more in the way we use “funny” to describe smells than we do to describe Dane Cook.  Do we use that word in any context to describe Dane Cook?  That’s not fair: he’s very charismatic, and if you’ll remember, Eric, you were a fan of his within the last five years.  This is a pointless struggle.

Reflection.  I’ve been doing a decent amount of this of late, and this is certainly nothing new for me.  I’m burdened or blessed with a relentless brain that churns thoughts incomplete and theories unfounded and beliefs meandering, one that excretes little dribbles of snotty malaise to be confused with a disassociated type of hubris that makes me too good for most things that would otherwise get me off of the couch.  All of these things had taken another contradictory philosophy previously, that being a quiet and confident sense of, as a friend qualified it, hedonism, believing that the ultimate worry I might have for myself is my level of happiness.  I defended this confidently amongst newfound friends in Auckland, on Kuata Island in Fiji’s Yasawa string, up my butt and on the other side of your mother.  I was unwavering in my belief that, at this point in life, career was perhaps no more than image-based, and that I’d return home a changed man, happy to stoke old and new relationships ablaze, advance upon whatever writing tick I might host, and earn my money as a last resort, whatever shape that might take.

Fast-forward three weeks.  Today was my father’s birthday (he turned 28.  Congrats, dad!), and I find myself feeling the same way, thinking and fretting over the same filth, as I had on his 25th birthday.  Is it something in the air of Los Angeles, something in the glares of passersby, that finds me converted back to a panicked consumerist?  I was swallowed, utterly and grotesquely, in a visit to Costco today, covered by hordes of holiday shoppers like some kind of infectious mucus, all-engulfing and completely debilitating, and I found myself wanting to scream.  Is this the manifestation of America from which I tried so hard to flee?  And since I find myself so affected, so torn, have I done so at all?  Surely 15 months can’t be expected to convert a person, but can they not at least leave a tiny trace of positive intent?  I’m back to wearing my old colorful ties, striving to “separate” myself from the pack, clasping my hands behind my back at concerts and art galleries, still struggling to find the words to fester conversation with some unqualified pseudo-beauty (that last one was harsh and passive-aggressive, admittedly).

I spent my final 11 days abroad in the remarkable country of Fiji.  They were nice: I stayed with a welcoming and gracious family in the first village settled by a Fijian, where the recently resigned president resides as chief.  It’s a rather nice place.  Neil Hamburger has more to say on the matter than I at the moment.  One night while at a place in the north Yasawas, at a place with oil lanterns instead of electricity, I spent the night discussing girls with Nemo, the 18-year-old utility guy of the hotel, who taught me polite words in Fijian as I taught him curse words in Italian, who loaned me their jalopy of a ukulele to worsen in my special way as he, three months into learning the guitar, ran musical circles around me.  He fought for words and choked on shy tears as he tried to describe the girl he loved, a 17-year-old living so impossibly far away on the main island, and asked for advice on whether or not he should try to kiss her upon his next visit during Christmastime.  I lied through my teeth, straining so hard to give him relationship advice as the worst candidate in the Southern Hemisphere, a 24-year-old with comparable wisdom, but while I wasn’t belittling myself, I realized that this was why travel was so amazing.  Here I was, talking with a kid that was the age of my students in Thailand, a kid that had never experienced weather colder than 80F degrees, whom I had met three days prior, and yet, sitting there in front of my straw “bure” on the beach, I was able to talk to him as if he were one of my closest childhood friends.  It was that simple.  If only these experience could translate into the real world!

Speaking of, yes, now that I am in that “real” world, I find myself with no direction, little-to-nothing to do.  I’m not despairing quite yet — the romanticism of the unemployed writer is still intact — but I do fret that I’m beginning to sense the gnawing feeling of the start of a touch of fretting.  After all, most of the “world travelers” are likely just postponing responsibility, I’ve been telling myself.  How can I reduce all of those experience to such indoctrinated poison?  I suppose that, for a start, those lifelong experiences don’t translate, like a Korean pop star trying to break out in the Italian market.  Can “life experience” and earnestness and a laundry list of passions be converted to any sort of currency?  Because I’m home now, in the real world, trying to apply my old values to a completely different framework.  Do I change myself, my mentality, or push off, back into the Dreamworld of living abroad?  Is compromise always necessary?
These are my struggles, cloudy and undeveloped as they may be.  May these remain, Bog willing, as the worst of my struggles for the rest of time.

I want to go swimming in the music of Chet Baker.  Oh, treasured stars and precious moonbeams, bless you for birthing such sounds to this glorious world of ours.  Also, Jenny Lewis is really, really hot.

Advertisements

~ by nearhelsinki on December 13, 2009.

One Response to “An Ornery Return”

  1. You make me laugh and smile and think and feel inspired, Sir. Truly.

    I greatly anticipate our reunion in a little over a week.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: