A four-hour layover finds me taking my time in the duty-free; last minute gifts. I stop by the MAC counter for a few “treat yourself” goodies. I juggle holding the products I want to try, my daypack, Blue (my water canteen), and my sweater, as I approach the mirror- my lack of grace is noted. The saleswoman approaches and declares that I’m holding too much before offering to help. I blink slowly as I grin at her and raise an eyebrow wondering if she would giggle along with me if she knew the irony in her commentary.
My returns to the States haven’t gotten any easier. In fact, the emotional blowback increases each time. I’m learning that home is found in the people I love vs a physical place. A coping mechanism of this peripatetic lifestyle, no doubt, yet it helps curb the loneliness enough for now.
I accept an invitation to visit the Botanical Gardens in the Brooklyn hopeful of the impact of fresh air and nature on my being. I try to enjoy being outside – it’s such an exquisite day. A delightful experience in a new place in a part of town I’ve never seen; everything should feel wonderful, but it doesn’t. Depression settling low and heavy on my psyche like a fog, making it hard to concentrate. These flare-ups are rare, but this flare up is as untimely as they come. I go along with the day trying to practice my mindfulness, snapping myself back and forth between the haze and the present, but today it literally hurts to smile.
Good intentions aside, the inquiries on my experiences are polite, but surface at best. Routine and circumstances typically drive the majority regardless of an underlying desire to abandon the mundane. I try to acclimate to these awkward social exchanges yet they are often fuel for my anxiety and I pull back from crowds as a natural reaction.
Back in California just in time for my Dad’s birthday -as promised-before heading up to Los Angeles to join a friend and her family in Hollywood. The freedom and solitude of the two-hour car ride allow me to swim in the ocean of my mind. I dive and bob like a buoy or just back float in this safe space, listening to the stillness of the dark water below. It brings me comfort and relaxes the busyness of my brain.
In my hometown, I’m able to unpack my bags, reorganize my life, and visit family and childhood friends. It’s too easy to get swept back into city life; rushing to and fro, filling each day with as much as possible. Groundhog Day of high price points, fake embraces and surface conversations. That haunting desire to draw the curtains; talk to no one as I wallow and write feverishly to detangle my emotions following closer than my own shadow.