The way back
Posted on July 25th, 2013
he end of any vacation never fails to trigger ripples on the surface of my life, creating the slightest of existential crises that have the irritating temerity to persist for days. It is the sense of confusion and loss-of-place I feel upon forgetting my reason for going into a room in the first place, say, or that ‘Now, what was I in the middle of doing again?’ pause I have to take when I’m doing too many things at once only to lose my hold on all of them at once.
So we’re back in our house, wading through unpacked bags lying wherever they were thrown and, all I can think is, seriously, what was I in the middle of doing, again?
While I waited on my Chinese takeout in Wichita Falls, Texas, a man with the names of his children tattooed on his neck (‘Kody’ and ‘Kaitlyn’, for the curious) told that it was his opinion that the return trip to one’s point of departure always seemed to take longer than that of one’s initial leave-taking.
I considered this man’s particular traveling truth as the five of us drove back to the hotel for the night, the car smelling all-too-soon like a box of sesame chicken, and decided that this isn’t always the case for me. Instead, my way back is a blur, a frenetic progress through coffee shops and gas stations that deposits me back in my very own living room, exhausted and somewhat unsure about what I was doing here in the first place.
Perspective can be a funny thing, perhaps no more so than when we find it foisted upon us by something as simple as a change in the way we pass our days. It’s not as if we went out looking for it—well, not intentionally, at any rate. The world we find ourselves paddling through may not even seem to be asking the same things of us as before, altered in the way we had come to perceive it simply by a introducing a little distance and another view outside of our window. Simply put, it is disorienting to find yourself looking at the same old things askance.
Extended time away from the status quo can be dangerous, a friend once cautioned. ‘But don’t worry,’ she reassured me, ‘you’ll settle back in.’
But here’s the truth: I don’t particularly want to. I’m as uncomfortable discarding this condition of, well, consideration as I am having it trail around behind me like Linus’ blanket. Looking at the familiar from even a modestly changed point of view is its own gift, an opportunity to actively choose to resume the patterns and responsibilities we unthinkingly moved through just days before.