I’m finding it very difficult to write about the Guilty Traveling Blues, which I sometimes refer to (in my head of course) as the Lonesome Traveling Blues. Why should this be so hard? I think because, as real as they are, I don’t want to come across as sounding ungrateful for the life I am living, which I am not. I don’t want to sound as if I am asking for pity, for I am not. I don’t want my loved ones to think I am unhappy, which I also am not. (I promise mom, I’m not at all unhappy!) Still, these feelings are a part of this experience, they are real. Since I have stopped moving around for a bit (I am residing in Puerto Natales, working for a couple months before I move on to somewhere as yet undecided) and as such have no stories to tell of my adventure in body, I will try to convey part of the adventure that is my mind. It’s quite a ride sometimes; I’ll try not to frighten you.
The Guilt: Up to now travel for me has been filled with adventure, a non-stop pleasure ride that leaves me breathless and amazed only to return to reality exhausted, needing a vacation from my vacation. When I was settled and hearing of people traveling my body would literally ache with envy and desire to go. When I planned my own vacations, the moment I decided on a destination I began leaping out of my skin until the moment I returned home. Inevitably, on the plane ride back, I would start planning where I wanted to go next. What if you feel the same way? What if you are in a position where you ache to wander, and can’t. Here you are, reading about this great adventure, when you unwittingly get slapped in the face with the blues. I apologize, but like I said it is real. I think it may be because a vacation is really an escape from reality; we can leave our blues at home and temporarily reinvent ourselves in a place where no one knows us. The difference is that this is not a vacation. This is a change of life, a leap of faith (mostly in me). I am reinventing myself for sure, but I don’t have a reality to go home to. I don’t have a base to leave my blues behind in. I am flying out there, solo, with no idea of where or when to try to land. I also forgot to pay for the flight lessons, and have no idea how to use the landing gear. This is not a whirlwind and really not an escape either, so my blues came along for the ride. I should have stored them in a box in mom’s garage…
The Blues: Mostly, I forget about this companion. Sometimes, he comes sneaking up, jumps into my mouth, down my throat, and pushes my heart into my stomach like some kind of pinball game. When I don’t stop to think about anything other than exactly what I am doing at the moment, when I don’t let my mind wander into the possibilities for my future, I normally feel calm, happy, and grateful. Then there are those times when I wonder what I will do if the money runs out before I have some kind of income that can support me. What if I haven’t figured it out yet? What if I don’t know where I want to go or what I want to do? What if I do know, but it doesn’t work out? What if I discover this self-imposed exile was a mistake that leaves me broke and broken more than I was before I chose it? I start to feel overwhelmed, and I shut it all out. I remind myself that I still have time, that I have always had what I need even when I haven’t had what I think I want. I remember that beyond anything else, I know how to grow food and am certain that I will have shelter, and I know that it is enough. Then I start to breathe again, and then I begin to come back to simply where I am. That is one manifestation of the traveling blues. The other is the part that follows me wherever I go.
The Lonesome: Really, this is not so new. I am at this point quite accustomed to being alone. I go through phases where the want of a partner finally recedes. I stop looking; I forget how it feels to have someone. I meet someone, I remember. It doesn’t work, the cycle begins again. On this journey, there have been modifications. I remember without, so far, the intervening meeting of someone (LAME!!! No fair skipping the fun parts!!). I remembered when I was sick at the bus station in Vina del Mar, and I wanted my someone to help look for the bus and figure out where to go. To help carry the bags that felt too heavy for me at that moment. I remembered when I continued to be sick in Pucon, and I wanted my someone to bring me tea and juice so I didn’t have to wander around a strange town coughing so violently that people looked at me with expressions of “gross, go home, you shouldn’t be out”. More recently, my body has been remembering more than my mind. When I walk home from work at night sometimes, when the sun is ducking behind the mountains and the clouds fill with color and I am amazed, my arm will straighten, my hand flexes open. My fingers extend and spread apart and then close around a hand that is not there. Then the ache, then wanting to share this beauty, then I remember.