I have a recurring dream, one that always brings me comfort, though to some it might be considered a nightmare. There’s a place I visit, and when I’m there, I soar with freedom. Sometimes literally, because hey, dream. I know when I’m in this place again, not because I recognize it, nothing in it is ever truly familiar. It’s not the look of the land, it’s the spirit.
I might be walking down a prosperous neighborhood, admiring the occasional flash of stained glass and enjoying thrills of delight at lawn gnomes tucked discreetly in well-tended flower gardens.
I’m always on the move, a quiet pressure deep inside urging me away from where I was, and onward to where I am going. Looking for something intangible, looking for something I can hold, something to satisfy the desire that can’t be filled.
Sometimes, I’ll admit it, sometimes I’m looking for something to steal. Stolen treasures are even more exciting. But I never find anything. There is nothing that calls to be mine.
Maybe I enter a home, only to pass through to the other side, winding my way through backyards and over fences. Maybe I turn down an alley, or take a shortcut across an empty lot. Maybe I stick to the streets and simply make another turn, and it all falls away to something else. A new neighborhood, a new adventure.
On this street, colorful laundry flutters in the air. Cautious eyes on strained faces peek through open windows while the sweat drips from their brow. The colors of the homes change from brick to adobe, and strong spices flow from a market on the corner.
A breathless push through the excited market might turn me into a rustic neighborhood of wood and pine, or one that likes to mix up its architectural style with a minimalist modern flare. Every street has something new, everything a gleaming snapshot of the shiniest treasures that area has to offer, be they succulent or depraved, glitters of the exotic or the luxurious, the serene or the mysterious, and always, always out of reach. No matter how simple the treasure I have found might be.
Always. Be it a lawn gnome, or a family sitting down at the table together for a meal.
I never live there, I am always walking through, and everything I see is out of my reach, therefore exotic and exciting.
I know exactly why I have this dream, and I know exactly why it comforts me. I won’t tell you every detail, but I might hint that when I wanted to live in the woods, there was a reason it might have been preferable to home. Maybe more than one reason.
Those reasons stopped in my teenage years, and so did my attempts to run off and live like a feral child. I was always caught, but those moments of freedom wandering around unfamiliar streets affected me forever. To the point that they molded my dreams.
When I started riding a bike to explore, the dreams started sometimes taking on the feel of flying, racing along in pure joy up and down the roads. Never high enough to reach the sky, or even avoid cars without a lot of effort, but a nice smooth gliding flight that I had the joy of recreating when I woke up and got on my bike again. I don’t have a bike anymore, but I still fly through neighborhoods in my sleep.
When I lived on the street, the longing to be a part of the places I passed through grew to something more intense, darker, but comforting and familiar in its own way. The dreamy landscapes I wandered through grew more colorful, more diverse, more like an entire city contained in a small area, each street a representation of the best of all the towns I’ve wandered through, secret treasures and fascinations intact.
Know what reminds me of that oddly comforting dream, that recurring expression of an emotion I know no name for other than wanderlust? That word only expresses the desire, not the blissful satisfaction of something new and exciting washing over you in waves as you experience temporary release from despair (or, more recently, mild annoyance).
Walking around Staten Island, that’s what. The smallest, greenest borough of New York City. A variety of cultures stacked on top of each other, some streets new and shiny and some streets cracking and mossy, and all of them beautiful.
If I were forced (well, persuaded by love) to live in pollution and population filled New Fucking York City, this would be the place to stick me. Home of protected marshlands, deer, subcutaneous egg laying sand fleas, and reputedly practically the whole damn island is haunted.
Seeing the state of many of these places, once shining and now peeling with grief, crammed right up next to homes oozing prosperous promises, I can see why rumors of ghosts linger. Also, there was that serial killer with his associated scandalous hospital, then the other abandoned hospital that’s supposed to be like an entire village, the mob hitman who cut up that dude in that mansion… Anyway, you know. Fun history alongside all that birth of our nation stuff.
I want you to take a moment and put yourself in my skin, with forty some-odd years of that dream driving your spirit. Now add twenty years of living in virtual confinement, restrained by poverty, lack of transportation, and the life of a single mother struggling to get through school (before I met Joe), followed by a new bundle of joy and the chaining to the home that brings.
I’m living in a landscape that holds some of the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood of my spirit. The landscape around me mirrors adventures that have called to me for decades. I play in unexplored landscapes and unfamiliar cultures just when I’m walking to the store. Awesome.
As pleasant as this place is, it is still New York City. Exotic, challenging, and bold. I walk, and I look around, and I feel my soul taking it in to store for later, material for memories that will become stories and dreams. My inner life grows wealthier, my need for stimulation being fed.
And Joe is talking about possibly sending us back to Tulsa.
Oklahoma. Land of flat, dull, and boring. We don’t even have basements, or homes above shops. I grew up surrounded by people who picked on me for reading for fun. People who had no idea how to eat an artichoke and had never eaten shrimp and ask you what church you belong to when you meet because it’s assumed you are Christian.
I mean, okay I get it. When it comes down to it, our current housing situation is not going to work out for a multitude of reasons. It would be less expensive to ship us off, we could save money to buy land faster, and oh boy, I do want land.
But I haven’t explored Manhattan yet, and it’s December so it’s cold and Joe’s commute is twice as long because of shoppers and tourists. I don’t think I want to face that crowd. Stuck in traffic that long with a hyper toddler, not a good idea either. If I were alone, the crowd and cold would just be part of the adventure, but I just can’t do it to her. I was hoping to visit the city with her in the spring, but now I hear I might not even be in the city over Christmas.
I had my heart set on so many things. I won’t get to tour the best graffiti, or eat a dandelion in Central Park. I might not even get a chance to see Poe’s banister before we leave. I did get to gather seashells with my daughter, and I do admit the beach was lovely (if you admire the tragedy of urban decay and can vaguely enjoy the horror you feel while you watch trash bobbing in the waves).
I thought I would be here for a year, and that I wouldn’t have to be apart from Joe again. I wanted to walk through Washington Square park while wondering how many bones I was walking across. I wanted to drink with the ghost of Dylan Thomas. Now, instead, I may be going back to the trailer. To paint the walls in a vain attempt to inject optimism and a woodland theme into my life.
Or, as I was informed this morning, perhaps we’ll be moving to Long Island, with an actual view of the ocean. It would be longer until we saved enough for land, but we would stay together and I could continue my plans for the rest of the year.
This should be earth-shatteringly good news, a possibility to cling to, but it’s just making me worried it won’t happen.
Once again, I’m not sure of where I will be and when. The way possibilities keep popping up, then fading away around here, that might be going on for a while. In a way, it’s cool. All the possibilities have positive eventual outcomes, even going back to the land of flat, dead, and boring will lead to land, so I know I can adapt.
It’s just that, well, humans are complicated creatures and the seed for adventure isn’t the only thing in my heart. Lots of stuff lives there.
Fucking anxiety and PTSD to name a couple. Know what stuff like that doesn’t like? Instability. Unpredictable futures. Trying to get settled in, and just when you do, it’s time to move again. I totally signed up for this journey, I just didn’t realize it would jump around so much or move so fast.
I am not reacting well. Thankfully, middle age doesn’t just come with wrinkles. It also comes with a lifetime of experience and skill sets to stave off the waves of panic attacks that would have been hell in this situation when I was younger.
And I have a brand new, shiny skill set that hasn’t even gotten boring yet. Bullet journaling about organization, a routine, pain solutions, family meals, standard life skills that will remain consistent no matter where we live or what we are doing. That helps.
I mean, I just got a new journal for 2019 a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve at least started notes on collections for more than half of the pages, so apparently it’s helping quite frequently. I have to say though, copying recipes from Pinterest into my BUJO is the most white girl thing I’ve ever done. At least I don’t think I’ve been so drunk that I’ve lost a shoe in public.
P.S.- I finally caved and got Scrivener, and had one of those moments where angels sang in chorus while light radiated so hard my hair blew back. I’ve already started a bullet journal page with custom icons.
P.P.S. – Posting Tuesdays now. I tried posting when my views were at their peak, apparently that is not a good strategy to get more views on my blog.