the beginning of all things to end

2 April 2013 § 2 Comments

A viscous yellow dawn lit up the prairie desert. As far as we could see, pale grass and cacti were all that inhabited the earth. Occasionally a dirt road perpendicular to the highway scratched into the unknown. Out my window, north, as foreign to me as the recent past. The rising morning sun, nowhere to be found, warmed nothing. The Greyhound bus rolled at the same fifty five miles an hour it had since San Antonio.

Behind me near the toilet we weren’t supposed to use, three men who’d just been released from Leavenworth gambled candy bars and coins over a deck of cards featuring Playboy models from the 80s. I picked one up from the aisle. “I haven’t seen titties since 1994, son,” one of them said as I handed him the queen of hearts. He should’ve been wearing a shiny purple fedora and diamond studded glasses to match his gold teeth. I returned my headphones to their rightful places and turned up the volume on my discman.

Hey, I ain’t never coming home
Hey, I’ll just wander my own road
Hey, I can’t meet you here tomorrow
Say goodbye, don’t follow.

On Texas highways tears dry quickly. Keeping track of them has for me always been a useless trade. The afternoon before, I’d departed my father’s house. Another home, another family. My pace was quickening. Six months before my mother’d said, energetically, conform or leave. I left. A few weeks before the bus trip west, my father picked up the phone just as I said to a girl that Kansas was a pit of foolish racism and self-hatred, and that I was leaving as soon as possible. He took me to the bus station himself. I climbed into the air-conditioned coach, a final reprieve from the oppressive Midwest swelter. My father stood and cried where we’d hugged.

Many of the moments by which I’ve defined myself have looked like this. Sometimes they take place in airports, other times gas stations. Rarely a smoke filled Waffle House at three a.m. My favorites are bus stations and depots. Always with different people, most of whom I’ve loved. Chances are I love them still. For me there’s nothing like leaving, departing, moving on, embracing the Next, especially when it’s the unknown; a peaceful fear washes over me, and I am left with a sense of balance. Will I see this person again? Will I return? When? From where else will I go?

The feeling used to seem like an oxymoron. Fear does not at once seem peaceful at all – it seems wrenching and panicky, like cowardice. Something to regret. Since that Greyhound bus on the desert highway, I’ve done all I can to say goodbye without looking back. It seemed weak. I wanted to embrace the next step, and honor whom and what I’d just departed because inside I was gone, already giving my whole self, nervous knees and short breath, to the Unknown. From a perspective that says unabashedly and inconsiderately it only gets better from here, looking back for me is a counterproductive burden. If my presence is my greatest gift, then I have given all I can. Thank you for being a part of it. A part of me.

So, to Portland, home of my savasana winter; to the communities I’ve orbited; the playgrounds on which I’ve learned how to manage my energy; friends, tribe, and family, all of whom I love for your contributions to the world around you, for your willingness to do the work it takes to grow and go where necessary to make it to the next step, the unknown – thank you. I’m headed off for my circuitous adventure, another enamoured summer on the seas along Alaska’s broken coastlines. See you on the other side.


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