Last Monday, my train from Portland didn’t take me home even though my muscles said, “Vacation’s over! Back to normal life.” Instead I ended up here, with a view of the mountains from most streets, parks every few blocks, coffee shops lining Commercial street and poetry readings on Monday nights.
This month I’m unofficially renting the condo below my sister’s and dog sitting. Halem’s more social than I am and forces me into conversations that begin with, “Sorry, he wants to say hi,” and embarrassed shrugs and tugs. He shows me around the city.
When I began to describe leaving a few months ago, everybody said to go, to do it now before responsibilities and age got in the way. One friend said, “I wish I would’ve waited a year to start grad school and travelled with the band. Starting a year later wouldn’t have made a difference to my career.” His band performed in Austin City Limits that year. So here I am, wondering what could happen in my year (or however long this lasts).
There’s a physical misunderstanding I’ve picked up in my gut, a lag. My brain gets it: I’m here because I made plans to be here, to travel, to go on this journey. My body hasn’t quite caught on. My head spins with more new memories than I can keep track of.
I’m sure my gut will stop pointing out that this isn’t “home,” but in the meantime I’ll have to keep reminding my muscles of the new normal. I created a convincing illusion for myself back home, that there was any constant besides change. Whole days, even weeks, could combine together in sleepy sameness. It’s difficult to relearn otherwise. There’s a comfort in sameness that reaches deep in the bones, that refuses to believe in the re-enchantment of life.