“How are you doing?”
Like someone being asked to describe a sensation they’ve never felt, I’ve found that I’m at a loss when asked to explain how I’m feeling. I don’t have any experience with it; nothing to compare it to. I’m surprised, and a little guilty, to discover that I’m not really that down. I’m embarrassed by the truth that “I’m fine / ok / alright.”
My energy level was noticeably lower than usual yesterday, to myself and to those around me. I’ve caught myself, cat-like, staring into the middle distance a few times. I am failing to concentrate on tasks at hand and even the screen right in front of me. This is only natural, I’m told.
I don’t really feel up for talking, mainly, because I’m lacking the clarity I need to articulate my thoughts and feelings – and that is frustrating to me. They are, for the moment, unfamiliar and protean. Despite that, I went online and met up with my friend last night. This was good. We had a long chat about what’s happening, and it helped to talk. She’s familiar with the leaky edges of both the history and current events here and she cares about me.
I want to be careful not to spend too much with introspection though. And, I am certain I don’t want to invite either stress, drama or depression back into my house. The last time they came to visit, they made a mess and failed to clean up after themselves. For now, they shall stay uninvited. I’ll just sit here having lemon and ginger tea with numbness. She’s the perfect houseguest, to be honest: conscientious, non-intrusive, respectful of personal space, and she doesn’t try to talk to me while I read or watch DVDs. Best of all, she doesn’t quiz me on the plans I’ve neglected to make.
“When are you going / coming home?”
The answer to this question seems to be of critical importance: where I am, physically, in the next week or so, is a matter of great concern to my friends and family. I know it’s well-intentioned, and I realise that most people would want to be near their families under the circumstances. I wonder if my feelings would be anymore clear to me if I were there, instead of here?
To be frank, I’m leaning against taking the 10-hour flight home for the funeral. Yes, I’ve been told, and considered, that I may regret my choice to not go home in a few years. Having never had cause to go to a funeral since knowing what they represented, I really don’t have any experience with that either.
So here I am, listening to the Talking Heads’ “This must be the place” and I hear the lyrics “home – is where I want to be, but I guess I’m already there”. To me, this is on the surface, a joyful and lively song that is about, I think, finding your place in the world – your home – and perhaps, on reflection, who you really are. Maybe…
When I listen to this, I see an unhatched egg that’s slipped out of her mother’s protective feet. The egg tumbles down the steep hill and cracks open at the bottom, where a little bird dizzily steps out. Finding herself looking up at an unassailably steep hill, the little bird instead tries to fly back up to the cliff top, but no matter what she tries to do, she just can’t, instead slipping right back down the hill back to where she started.
She figures her parents will come looking for her eventually, so she starts to carelessly wander, not really sure where she’s going, but she’s cool with it. It’s novel and it’s fun, despite it being awfully cold sometimes. Sometimes she’ll stop and look up into the sky, where she sees other birds flying overhead, and convinces herself that she’ll learn to fly eventually. And when she does, she’ll find her way back to the cliff top. It’s ok, she knows nothing’s wrong, she’s got plenty of time.
So the little bird goes to sleep. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months. Eventually though, the little bird realises that in spite of getting bigger, older and just a little bit wiser, she just can’t seem to get off the ground. Eventually, she decides it’s ok, and realises that she really just has to make her own way with what’s she’s got. So she wanders down the path, and finds other stuff to do. Finally, she meets up with some others birds that she feels a kinship to. They look like her, talk the same language, and dig on the same music she’s into. Realising that they too never seem to fly either, she asks one of them why they don’t.
“Fly? Why would we? We’ve never felt the need, sweetheart,” he says.
“But why?” she insists.
“Never had much choice I guess, being penguins and all.”
You probably saw that coming, didn’t you? Well, I thought it was cute.