“The story is always better than your ability to write it.” — Robin McKinley
Out there in the spotlight/You’re a million miles away
Every ounce of energy/You try to give away
As the sweat pours out your body/Like the music that you play
Later in the evening/As you lie awake in bed
With the echoes from the amplifiers/Ringin’ in your head
You smoke the day’s last cigarette,/Rememberin’ what she said
I should start by telling you the lead up to my travels is filled with massive anxiety despite my king-hell organizational abilities with travel. I have logged more miles than most, although certainly fewer that professionals. Conservatively speaking, I would suspect I’ve spent at least 20 percent of the last ten years traveling the America and Europe.
Still, there is an unsettled-ness that comes with unrooting myself. This manifests itself in my thoughts so I suspect this won’t be much of a story.
Which, then, assumes that the previous stories I’ve written are much of stories. This, to me, feels less so of one even if it turns out the previous ones were also not.
Understand? I hope so because this is what you should expect
This trip throughout the next seven days will take me from Phoenix to Redlands, California with a few pit stops in between.
Along the way, I’ll meet with a cousin of some sort – Bill Baker – son of Bill, who was brother to my grandmother Virginia, who were part of the first generation of Bakers to escape the Clay County War. Little Bill has boxes of family artifacts, bits and pieces of the family history that will – I hope – help me piece together what happened to the family after they left Clay County.
I do not know if what I will find will be of interest. I am blocked when it comes to my family, this story, unable to move at times. Unable to make simple phone calls, send simple emails. I sit with piles of information around me. I stare, unable to move on this.
I wish I had a good reason for this.
This trip, as all my trips, is a reminder that my roots – my roots – are both fluid and far-reaching. And my travels always take my mind on a long-view of my life.
The last few days, I’ve had this thought: We retcon our lives, re-telling ourselves stories in order to justify the decisions we have made. Cognitive dissonance is the term, I’ve been told. The ability to convince ourselves that we have made the right choices and we have done the right things. And the other choices and the other things were wrong, have always been wrong and will continue to be wrong.
But cognitive dissonance doesn’t extend into the whole timeline. Into the timeline of others.
Your cognitive dissonance becomes the timeline’s lies.
I’ve been contemplating this lately, considering whether this is the source of the failed personal relationships I’ve had. Wondering if this is why I harbor such ill feelings towards people in my life, the ones who exists in their dissonance while I exist in the timeline.
Or maybe it’s the other way around. Perception, after all, is everything. Yet in the cases of my animosity, I feel acted upon, not the acted. This makes me feel justified.
This thought holds some logical merit with me; I am not sure if I have simply retconned it so.
This trip will lead me back to friends, one who has been around since the time I remember things being around and one who skipped across the waters of my life and disappeared into the ripples.
I am anxious to see both of them, for different reasons.
It’s strange how friendships, like a wafting smell that catches you off guard, can transport you into a different time in your life. Elicit longings and emotions.
The new-ness of my sobriety, even as it approaches two years, is such that I am anxious to see where these visits take me. So much is brand new these days. Unexpected feeling, ones that I didn’t know existed within, seem to bubble up. I have gotten used to this and embrace them.
This Year of Friends is a walk through my past and my future, all at once. Every step in two directions. Mostly, though, this grounds me in a place that is not retconned. Reminds me that I, like every other human on the planet, can feel betrayal and hurt and sadness without there being attached to it some stigma of my own actions.
Because my friends remind me that with every bad, there is a good. And that good extends far beyond the bads, far beyond the hurts, far beyond the cognitive dissonances.
And it reminds me that even those I harbor some resentment towards, I know they have those same bonds somewhere too.
This is, I think, what it means to be human. To understand that righteousness even about those others. I suspect that’s the path to serenity.
This notion makes me happy.
This trip starts five months of near solid travel.
This reminds me that my roots are fluid, unhinged from any one place. I am not sure how much longer I can operate like this. I can feel some change coming on in that regard.
My explorations, at least as I have known them, need to shift if I’m ever to engage in my sobriety, my life.
That time is not now, though. For now, I am on the road again.