||that this is just another one of those fabulous reoccuring motifs in life, much like the ebb and flow of the changing tide. While the disenchantment isn't particularly comfy, the relief and wonder you'll likely experience when you eventually hit upon that thing that inspires passion once again will be all the more potent, tangible and sweet.
Almost twelve years ago while on vacation (has it really been that long?), I spent an evening sitting on the front porch of my brother's house watching a lightning storm miles away from us, somewhere over Mira Mesa. We were talking about what was going on in our respective lives. I explained my employment situation to him (back then I was a grantwriter for a non-profit biomedical research facility where the scientists shared a common goal of thwarting parasitic diseases) and he quietly responded by saying, "I never have been able to understand how you and Dad could be happy working at a desk pushing paper around all day long." Although that wasn't exactly how I'd describe my work, it did set off a banshee wailing in the back of my mind for the remainder of my visit.
A few nights later we went to the Gaslight Festival and I spent the evening listening to Marcia Ball and Zachary Richard, dancing my ass off and generally having a world-class blast. By coincidence, the weekend before in my hometown I'd worked as a stagehand for the annual arts/music blow-out fest at the stage where these same acts had played. After the show I stayed and chatted for awhile, waiting to see if my brother and his wife might still be around; it was one of the best evenings I'd enjoyed in a long while and I realized that I was more comfortable with other kindred souls (gypsies and nomads) than I'd been in my day-to-day life for longer than I'd have liked to admit. The banshee seemed to have noticed, too, and upped the shrieking ante accordingly.
The next day I found myself at the counter at the airport checking in and damned near exchanged my ticket "home" for one to Monterey (the next stop on the tour for the bands I'd seen the night before). I decided instead to return to the place where I lived, thinking that if I'd made the choices that had led me to that place of maintaining instead of living out loud, I could also do whatever was necessary to work my way out of this coma-inspiring rut. I boarded my flight, still a little unsettled, and decided to try some tuneage as a means of restoring calm. Without much conscious thought, I settled in to listen my "The Best of the Band" CD and, well, things got rather surreal at that point.
The first song on the CD is "Up on Cripple Creek"; in retrospect, it may have subconsciously inspired what happened next (given that it contains a reference to Lake Charles, LA -- but I've decided that it's okay if the mystery never gets resolved, for what it's worth). The second song is "The Shape I'm In"; it reflected my mood-of-the-moment with a degree of accuracy that was uncomfortable to acknowledge. The third cut is "The Weight" -- quite possibly my single favorite song ever. At that point I completely and utterly lost it (any semblance of composure) and pretty much dissolved into a puddle of misery in about ten seconds' time; I remember feeling really sorry for the poor guy seated next to me who looked like he'd rather be anywhere else...
And then I heard The Voice.
I recognized immediately that it wasn't didn't belong to my "Internal Committee" even though I was only hearing it in my own mind; it was a voice I'd not heard before nor since. (Auditory hallucinations are not uncommon for folks like me; I've learned how to play along as long as nothing harmful is proposed :) The words I heard, spoken quietly and with infinite patience, were these: "You're going to move to Pennsylvania and make peace with your father. Then you're going to move to New Orleans." The waterworks went on "pause" at that point and my thought-speak response was as follows: "There's no way in hell I'll ever do the former and, as for the latter, isn't New Orleans the asshole of the U.S.? Why on earth would I want to go there? It's never crossed my mind to even visit that city and I don't know a soul who lives there." The Voice didn't reply, and after a few seconds of mental silence, to my great surprise, I heard my own thought-voice say, "What have I got to lose?" That was the clincher; the emotional storm I'd been experiencing subsided almost instantly, the rest of the flight was internally calm, and I was relieved to realize that the damned banshee had finally stopped tormenting my backbrain.
Kerry, one of my oldest and dearest friends, greeted me at the airport. I told her about my trip, and about what had happened only a few hours before... She has admitted since that she had to fight the urge to drive me to the local psych ward instead of taking me to my apartment, but she didn't think I'd actually go through with it. When we arrived at my place, I set my bag down and reached for the phone. I'll never forget the look on her face as she watched me call my Dad and announce that I was thinking I should go and live with him for awhile, that I wanted to reconnect with my family again. She had long been aware of the degree of volatility between us and of the fact that I'd left home at the age of 15 because I'd decided that fending for myself was infinitely preferable to fearing him. It also proved to be another instance of good timing; my Dad had wanted to talk to me about assuming a co-guardianship responsibility for my mother (she has chronic MS and is had recently become debilitated to the point of being an invalid at that time). If I were to agree to do so, I'd have to live there for a period of time to make it happen. The next day I gave two months' notice at work. It was mid-September 1990; on December 7th, I hit the road (all symbolic connotations intended :).
In September of 1991 I returned to my former hometown to hang out with my best friends for a few months; having been raised as a military brat, it was the first time in my life I'd ever returned to a place I'd actually lived previously. It took a lot of work and was, on occasion, downright unpleasant, but my father and I managed to build the foundation of a healthier relationship that has generally served us quite well since. We also successfully established a co-guardianship arrangement to ensure my mother's long-term care and I was ready to move on in life again.
Truth be known, I was still unsure about moving to a city I'd never even seen without a job waiting for me, but I'd already purchased a one-way ticket and still figured that I still had nothing to lose; I could always move back or go somewhere else if it didn't suit me. At the end of December, my four "allies" saw me off at the airport. As I was walking away from them to board the flight, crying and laughing simultaneously (it really wasn't hysterics; in some ways, it was actually hysterical), I remember experiencing the oddest sensation: my heart and my head were telling me to be sensible, to turn around and go back to these people that I loved completely, but my feet just kept moving forward -- it was as if I was on autopilot at that point and I just had to keep going.
Within 48 hours, I'd rented a room in the French Quarter, established a post office box address and a voice mail account, had interviews scheduled with three employment agencies (my one guaranteed job-procuring skill being that I type 120 words per minute), had discovered the watering hole that would serve as my "living room" for the next five years and had started making new friends. (When my brother and I were little, we'd play this game where we'd imagine what we'd do if we ever were suddenly swooped off via helicopter and released in a place we'd never been to before; while the mode of transportation was slightly different, I was delighted that I'd actually passed the test when the opportunity presented itself.)
I remained in New Orleans for five years and it was quite the adventure; while I know without a doubt that it's a place where my soul lives well, I'm also the first to admit that the quality of life there, in general, didn't measure up to the place I'd adopted as my personal "hometown" (the first place I'd ever decided to live after having been shipped around incessantly courtesy of the U.S. military). In one sentence, New Orleans is a city of contrasts: on the one hand, there's the scent of night-blooming jasmine -- the best scent I've ever encountered in my life; and on the other, there's the stench of the sidewalks early in the morning before folks have had a chance to perform the ritual of hosing away the often-abundant evidence of the previous night's revelries. I still visit frequently, if only to get my ya-yas out -- it's where I go whenever I'm desperate for a mental health break and I never doubt that I'll always be welcomed.
If you're still reading at this point, you might be asking yourself, "For crying out loud, what's her friggin' point? She's loony-tunes and that just doesn't apply to me..." You've already recognized yourself that you're just going through the motions, just another somnambulist... I have this theory that there are only 396 real people in the world and the rest are simply "done with mirrors" -- and maybe you're one of the "mirror people" at present. I know from experience that it this particular state of mind isn't a fun place to live; truth be known, I've accumulated more than a decade's worth of mileage since taking the "left turn at Albuquerque" I've described herein and only recently realized that I'm again sleepwalking through life more than I'd prefer to myself these days; c'est la vie. Me, I'm waiting for a sign, an odd opportunity that will likely come from out of the blue. And when it does, I'm so ready to jump on it without hesitation or reservation. I've learned that life is an adventure; I know also that I'll only lose if I'm too frightened for whatever reason to act when that moment arrives. I love a good surprise; don't you?
Pay attention to the lightning strikes and keep an open mind; when it's time to wake up again, you'll know.