Thursday, May 07, 2009

Domestication and A Yak?

As it is, I am pretty rich when it comes to life. My wallet may always be flashing "E" for empty, but I never seem to suffer for long. Sure, the suffering may be a little harsh at times. For example, I take no masochistic pleasure in conveniently "visiting" family and friends, when the truth is that would be otherwise living out of my car for three weeks. (Of course, they don't know this and I don't tell them.) For this reason, I have developed a deep aversion to couch surfing for the sake of it. At the same time, my particular way of life has provided me with deep and steady friendships around the world. If I had a dollar for every person who refers to their home as "my home", I would be very wealthy, indeed.

Of course, I don't hesitate to add that deep down, all I want is a semi-comfortable life in a semi-urban setting with a handful of friends nearby. Despite my nomadism, the truth is that I am one of the most domestic people I know. I cook, I clean, I decorate. I love to grocery shop, garden and entertain. When there is money, I adore fresh flowers and making adult drinks with mint leaves. I am a dork for organic living, growing and eating. I am a creature of habit and routine. Is it possible to be the epitome of domestication yet far from domesticated by default? If I could be provided with a room of my own--for my own creativity--writing, painting, sculpting, teaching--I could easily be the best housewife ever! Of course, this would be predicated on love, attraction and mutual respect, and a great deal of latitude for my own independence, but I digress for sure.

I fantasize about having a sunny home with a porch swing, a library room and comfortable chairs, a kitchen with big windows and flower boxes for herbs, and a yellow labrador named "Moose", who can be naughty sometimes, especially when he attempts to crawl up on the couch. I think about children, giving them strong names, and how to best prepare them to exist in this world. Of course, with this comes the consideration of life partnership, too. Whoever the lucky fellow may be, I sincerely look forward to growing gray with him... Somewhere...Maybe not America? I truly don't know. But what I do know is that life has been pretty generous with me thus far. I count my blessings with confidence in the hope that my wishes will work out as most things always seem to do...

So, the big news is that I have been offerred a 6 month teaching fellowship. I was worried about what to do in August, after my 6-month stint in the Middle East ends. I was sweating over the idea of going back to the US and finding a job in such a shaky economy. In my worry, I applied to a dwindling list of jobs and fellowships. It happens that the one fellowship I considered the biggest long-shot (and the one I waited until the last minute to submit) came through. The short end of the story is that I am being offered six more months of living somewhere completely insane. It is yet to be determined if this will be Orissa, India or Katmandu, Nepal. (I will know more within a week.) And I haven't submitted my acceptance yet--because I am still a little stunned and somewhat scared about making quick committments in principle. But after thinking about it all day, I have more or less concluded that I will get on board for lack of anything more productive to do with the latter half of this year.

Of course, I realize that not many people publicly muse, "Maybe I should go to India or Nepal after I am done in Jerusalem because I really don't have anything else to do. Maybe I can find a guru for yoga, and learn how to cook some mean Indian food. Or maybe I will get my own personal yak for transportation in the Himalyas?" I know, it's a little insane...

But since this is a post of listing so many truths, the truth is that if I had a dollar for every person who says that they "envy" or "live vicariously" through me, I would be richer than rich. Yet sometimes folks fail to recognize how lonely I can be at times, or how seriously freakish I feel when men (and women) from back home find me intimidating on principle. I realize that I sound rather unconvincing when I say that I, too, envy the lives of others. I envy the luxury of not having to make these decisions, not having to worry about what to do with myself from one moment to the next. Yet my little troubles regularly seem to fall on deaf ears when I note aloud how increasingly alienated I feel when I see my closest friends, for example, moving into the lives that we dream for each other. My dearest friends are reproducing and lactating while I am off riding camels, jumping on buses held together with plyers, and dodging dodgy men with less than good intentions. Somehow my life is seen as exotic and adventurous, when the truth is that I am tentatively hang in the periphery of the life cycle, holding onto the Universe by one little finger, whilst typing all about it with the other nine. Perhaps I have simply perfected the art of making it look too easy?

In the end, the truth is that I worry--I worry that I can't or won't be able to find my way home to the home that I only dream of after being so far removed from what exists inside the bell curve of American affluence. At the least, I worry that I am becoming one of those people who can only exist in motion, and only in the periphery. And yet, I also worry about my fears of living a life that is devoid of the freedom I have to be so fundamentally free. At most, I fear that I may be missing out on something, something that I never had a child, maybe...perhaps the life that I have always feared and loathed at the same time? I can't say. All I know is that I called Bro and asked what it is that I am missing?

"Nothing," he said from Virginia. "Well...you are missing the rain. It's been raining here for, like, 5 days straight."

"You must be miserable," I said.

"Yeah...so you're missing nothing," he said. "Nada."

"You really think I should go, then?," I asked.

"Are you kidding? F-cking go!--" he said in his ever-so-direct manner. "It's just six months. Go and get a guru! Go and learn how to cook the food that you love to eat! Go!!!...and, like, whatever--just make sure you ride a yak."

So, I guess...I'm going...

But first, I need to remember that I'm still here...

Namaste

8 comments:

Jessica said...

Don't forget a chance to learn your 45th language...

Preeti said...

The grass is always greener, right, Namaste? Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy it and it leads you closer to your goal, whatever that might be.

And if I may be a little selfish, I hope you go because I would love to read more of your writings especially about such a different area of the world! :)

VJ said...

Yeah, I like the languages bit, but I'd still take India over Nepal. For the food certainly too.

But this? "My dearest friends are reproducing and lactating while I am off riding camels, jumping on buses held together with plyers, and dodging dodgy men with less than good intentions." Can easily be accomplished any given day in my bohunk forlorn County in Ga. Yes, including the camels. (They're also used quite well yearly in a 'live nativity scene' done by one of the local churches).

But it sounds like another exciting adventure, Congrats on the award. We've got to live vicariously thru such reports. We can't afford to go otherwise! (I know, quelle dommage!) And yes, bring a Steripen with you! Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

donna said...

It's sad but we always want what we don't have. And others want what you have. It's the nature of the beast I'm afraid and there is nothing we can do except try to be true to ourselves.

Best of luck - at least you will find a good yoga class!!!!

MinCat said...

take it! come to india! only then kindly allow this lurker to visit you in orissa. just for some chai.

SeanG said...

I'd go with Nepal. Kathmandu isn't as nice as many westerners think but when you get out of the city into the rest of the country it's a magical place.

freckledk said...

For every thing you *miss* you gain something more valuable. I read this blog of yours and think of all the exciting things I could have done with my own time, in lieu of staying comfortable, complacent, at home. Your life, to me, reads as a life of no missed opportunities. I don't worry one bit for your future, as I'm certain it will turn out deliciously.

However, if you are as good at cooking, cleaning and cocktailing as you say...well then, my home is your home! Really! Please come - I'll put you right to work!

hannahjustbreathe said...

"What is it that I am missing?" Such a wearisome and haunting question. And no clear, good answer---because what you see as lacking is what others would see as fulfillment. What you miss others might have in spades and be sick of, to the point of sadness. It's all a crap shoot, really.

I second your brother (and my fellow commenters)---go, with open heart! Who knows---the trip may take you one step closer to home.