Stuck in the mud

You win some, you lose some. I feel like the last bit has been more Ls than Ws for me but you know what? A lot of it is in my head, which means it is both the easiest thing and the hardest thing to change.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, though, and in a way for someone who is used to feeling good all the time, I’ve actually gotten kind of used to not feeling good. Which is, obviously, not good. I know there are many contributing factors but I am actually starting to become quite agitated in that I just want to go home.
As much as I might get annoyed at the car guards, or the robot hawkers, or the politics (says the girl in the end of an American election cycle!!), or feel ennui at those random times when I really do feel not only alone, but a foreigner who is alone …. I am missing Africa like crazy. The blue skies, Camps Bay, the visual mishmash that is Woodstock, the Biscuit Mill, the light on Table Mountain, my apartment, my normal food. My job. My friends.
But it’s more than that, and this is ironic considering that I never actually travel into Africa. South Africa is like Africa for beginners, but it’s still Africa. I miss the red sunsets, the red dirt, the smell of the air. I once kept saying that I just felt like the lights were brighter, and the sounds were louder, and I felt more alive in South Africa. Well …. I am not sure this is true at the moment as I drink in every moment in every place I go, because I never know when I will be in these places again: Colorado, Washington, etc.
Susan called it. She told me a week ago that the reason I was so upset is that I didn’t know when I would be back home.
I love where I live. It’s stunningly beautiful. I love my life: my job, my health, my sport, my family, my friends. It’s a work in progress, but I am feeling stuck, like I can’t move forward, until I get back. It’s almost like when I’m here, I’m wistfully chasing after another life, and I have one foot in both worlds, and I can’t fully live either one.
On Saturday Susan was busy all day being on call to go out on an air ambulance (helicopter ambulance). Too damn cool. So she sent me out on a road trip through the Colorado mountains. I started off with breakfast in Glenwood Springs, followed by a hike to the spectacular Hanging Lake (the SA version is Crystal Pools, but you can actually swim in those), followed by lunch in Breckenridge, then to Evergreen and a drive back through Morrison (home of Red Rocks Amphitheatre) to pick her up at the hospital. That last stretch was actually the most beautiful but it was also too late in the day for photos to come out so I didn’t even bother.
A couple of interesting tidbits: I used to work for a white-label travel company north of Boston and it was fascinating to me to get to drive through all these ski towns that I had only ever heard about. They were not as I was expecting, in most cases, but stunning nonetheless. I also was feeling much better about myself on the hike when I was happily passing everyone I encountered on the trail and while I did break a sweat, I didn’t get out of breath. Then again after The Incline anything is going to seem easy!
My only regret about my time in Denver is that for a good chunk of it I was either too sick, or either Susan or I, or both, were too sleep-deprived to be ideal company for each other. But hey the place is beautiful, the Mexican food was great, the altitude training kicked the snot out of me, the Tailgate32/Denver Broncos experience was memorable, and I discovered a weakness or three. I also gave blood for the first time in several years, which was extremely fast and painless. I should really do that more often.
Sunday morning I woke up feeling a bit under the weather again, and knowing that the only time you can heal is when you’re sleeping, I made a tactical call to sleep for the 2.5-hour flight to Seattle rather than working on the plane. It worked.
I came to Seattle to visit some ex-Jeeves colleagues who are now working for Microsoft; partly a social visit and partly work-related. Before getting down to the pile of work that I absolutely had to get done before the crazy work week starts, I stopped by the tailgate which was at a bar of all things. Well, first I went to the lots themselves where I encountered some people who put vodka into my coffee. That was weird.
The boys all seemed quite happy to see me; Mike even went so far as to run down the road, pick me up at the hip and lift me all the way up, which, sadly, was not captured on camera. You might even say he cleaned me. I was impressed. Well, he is a CrossFitter when he’s not busy being as opposite to a CrossFitter as one can be. I actually just love the entire crew; I again hadn’t laughed as hard in a week as when sitting in the RV with the boys. I mean … how can you see Aidan or Dustin and NOT crack a smile? But that was not the place I needed to be, and quite frankly I wasn’t in the mood, so I headed off into what would have been the sunset if you could actually ever see the sun in this town.
You know, words are just words until you make them more. Like: who, or what, do I really want to be? What, and who, do I want to care about?
People will be what they will be, and they will think what they think (even if they don’t have the full picture and no interest in learning it), and as much as you wish things were otherwise, they are as they are. I’m not sure if it’s fear or inertia that holds us back more, or why I can do one thing when I wish I’d done another. In my case, probably fear.
We play the hand we’re dealt unless we have enough guts to ask for a new hand. I usually don’t. But then again, along the lines of be careful what you wish for …. Some paths are better not travelled.
Hierarchy of needs: there was a good Facebook debate this week about what was more important: the economy, or civil rights. Very long debate but here’s the rub: I’m a liberal, obviously, I think people should be able to do whatever the heck they want unless it clearly and explicitly hurts someone else. In the grey areas, you must THINK, even if you do sometimes decide to be selfish and there is a negative externality. So I believe in such things as freedom of speech, and equality of opportunity for all regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.: I try not to let my stereotypes get in the way and to evaluate people as people.
This is all well and good, but it’s also very ivory tower. It’s easy to say this when you do have a job. If you’re part of the long-term unemployed, I can understand that frustration, rage, desperation (kind of, but not really, as I haven’t actually experienced it). I can understand listening to someone who tells you what you want to hear.
We believe what we want to believe, until reality smacks us hard across the face.
I can remember where I was for every Presidential election. Before Cal, they were at my parents’ house in Vermont. 2000 was at a hotel bar in California with some Jeeves people. 2004 was at the John Kerry rally in Boston (was meant to be a victory rally but was more like a wake … and shame, I had front-row tickets because I’d been in the right place at the right time). 2008 I was at the house of some people who are no longer friends. In 2012 I will be first at some San Francisco bar (again), then at my friend Cathleen’s house in Sunnyvale.
I’ll close with this tidbit from Twitter. I mailed my absentee ballot from the middle of Colorado. I’ve done my bit. That’s all I can do: @BettinaVLA Romney’s closing argument: ‘Trust me. I was lying during the primaries.’
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