I haven’t quite liked coming home. There have been moments of course, where happiness and familiarity and home flood into me like a long past due breath of oxygen, and I wonder where all my sticky resistance to this place comes from, and how I’ve gone so long without my family and my room and my fellow english speakers. There are moments that fall upon me like heavy fluttering sighs, and I allow myself to relax and luxuriate without thought of anything else.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the dynamics of breath and how they can stretch themselves out to represent the passing of time, much better than hours and minutes can. My month back has passed less like a calendar and more like respirations. In the beginning, days passed in a hyperventilation state, a stressful speeding up of time where days were rushed in and out, in and out, without much time for processing.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on a walk at the lake with a friend, with the sun setting— just bleeding from light blue to dark blue, nothing fancy— and I saw a man cooking dinner for himself in a cast iron skillet over a campfire. I had just been complaining about the lack of human connection, big talk as opposed to small talk, that I thought afflicted Dallas. As we walked closer to this guy, he offered us some dinner, and we sat, talked and ate eggplant with him by the lake as the blue sky got bluer. Those 20 minutes were like a big deep yogi breath of a moment, and when I excused myself to go to the bathroom and continue our walk, I may as well have said Namaste.
So I’ve got the range between hyperventilation and profound respiration. Most of the time though, I feel like my days pass in an out like the shallow breaths of an asthmatic. They are steadier than they once were, but they are not breaths shared or felt by others, they are not breaths that are filled with words and thoughts and questions I can’t yet voice; they are just the shallow breaths of a semi lonely girl accomplishing nothing else with her breaths then her own sustained existence.
That sounds sad as shit, and don't worry, I am very proud of my own sustained existence. I delight in it. I think the, lets call it what it is, less alive feeling, is more to do with expectations than reality. Leaving Ecuador and GCY, I left behind a place and a program that pushed me to live wholeheartedly; a life where I was almost always of out breath, from hard work, or laughter, or beauty or good conversation. Everything left me breathless, and feeling so so alive. I expected, coming home and moving forward in life, to keep pushing myself, chasing a better Rose, stomping around, calling for a better world and being heard. I expected that if I didn't carry that almost painfully alive Rose back with me from the Amazon, then I’d be able to carve her out right here. The wild Rose, who didn't need warm showers or TV but only dance and nature and good people; I thought she had way more to do with soul than circumstance. I expected, maybe, a GCY that never ends.
What I didn’t expect is to come home and love all the things I lived so fully without. I think the most humbling part of this whole experience was not pooping on the side of the road or failing to milk a cow for 3 weeks or any of the other self deprecating travellers stories I love to tell. What was humbling was coming home and getting a mani pedi, sleeping late and having no responsibilities. Its humbling to look back on this month and see a half finished puzzle, some sweet family dinners and a tomato garden as my successes instead of the documentary screenings and further self discovery I’d expected myself to have achieved by now. Humbling to realise that it’s not just my family and friends who can’t possibly understand my experience, but me as well; I’ll never fully grasp it. It’s humbling to be so unhappy here at times, go on walks and be filled with anger by the overlarge houses and three car garages, and then speak with people like Marian Jones, who has found utter joy in her life and does nothing but spread it. Humbling to meet people that absolutely confound you, people that don't follow the rules you’ve set in your head about how alive a person can feel here, people that stump you, people that challenge you like the eggplant cooking man at the lake or Marian, the crossing guard at Lakewood.
I’ve been humbled. My expectations have met reality, and now I’m in a shallow-breathing state of shock. But I’m realising as I write (yay writing!) that maybe thats not such a bad thing. In fact, I think the most important thing in life may be to be humbled, to allow yourself to learn from just about anything. And should I just throw away all my expectations? No. The plan is, to be okay with where I am now, to finish my half finished puzzle, to ask myself questions and to spend some time with people that make me think and rethink my answers. And then, make the expectations that are worthwhile, the ones I can effect, into goals. So be expecting an invitation to a documentary screening this summer, heck yeah I still believe in the power and importance of exposure and discussion, but just know that I’m going to take my sweet time. I’m going to be patient with myself. I’m going to catch my breath first.