a meditation on adventure
I barely slept last night. The unofficial fireworks (I presume in celebration of Pride) and loudspeaker music (an occasional phenomenon) from the streets didn't help. But what really kept me up was the energy brewing in my navel. The fire stoking in my gut. The current churning in my diaphragm. My body felt like an ecological disaster waiting to happen.
I get really tense before adventures. Normally subconscious actions become a negotiation with the stress budding from my roots: washing the dishes becomes a race, procrastinating on packing on random Youtube barber vlogs transforms into providence. I feel legally liable for finishing my last mango.
My plane is departing the tarmac now. When I "woke up" this morning, the city was swamped with fog. If this was a movie and I was the main character, a film critic might break it down as a metaphor for the city's mood towards my departure, a somber farewell. When I boarded the plane, the at-first mysterious and now comforting mountain ranges lining the San Francisco Peninsula erupted from the cloud line and the sun broke out. As if to say, the dark is ending “even if you are not ready for the day.”
Some periods of my life are easily narrativized. Specifically, the ones that mark significant growth. There's something about a transition that preps your body to stretch in ways it’s never had to before. I'm moving through a transition, and I'm not sure how my body will react.
I'm sitting by a window with a great view. I love picking the window seat. There’s a little-known art to it. Windows aren’t spaced out evenly with the seats, so you need to find the numbers that naturally let your head rest against the divider. You also need to pick a seat that's far enough in front of or behind the wings to ensure you have a clear view. Only then can you easily, romantically gaze out the window, lost in enlightened thought. All while your seat neighbor has a different sort of enlightenment writing up a Google Doc with tables and pros and cons and words like “coordination” and “instrumental” and “value-add.”
From the window, I’ve gotten better and better at recognizing spots, familiar ones from an unusual perspective and new ones from a one-of-a-kind introduction. Landmarks like Lake Tahoe and Yosemite feel unfathomably knowable, despite how you could spend a lifetime exploring their nested layers.
I try to recognize spots and remember them because my sense of home is pretty grounded in my physical space and inhabitable places. I love to travel but a nomadic lifestyle sounds terrifying. I really love having a home base because there’s a safety of return at the end of the day. I imagine if I ever become homeless I would be stuck forever because of how unmoored I would feel. Leaving SF for the rest of the summer makes me emotional. When I was watching the sunset earlier this week, I noticed so many more details, let myself linger to soak in some final dredges of local beauty. I'm scared that I won't be able to enjoy what I love somewhere else; I'm scared that I'll fall in love with a different home.
I used to fight against the parts of myself that I thought kept me from doing the things I wanted. My fear of doing scary, new things was my enemy. My anxiety with high-pressure situations and leaving comfortable routines was a parasite. I never succeeded in getting rid of them, and now understand them as a part of me. I think they might even be my greatest strengths if I let them. The fear comes from an uncanny ability to observe and discern possible dangers as well as opportunities. The anxiety comes from a yearning to grow out of my existing boxes, an impatience to stir up my bones and existing mindset, an intense commitment to giving everything I do my all.
I recognize that tension in my body as the sprouting of pure energy. My body dutifully preparing to make the most of this arc, powerful streams rising from my body like steam, how the fog rises over the glass and earthen hills of San Francisco. I’m hungry and sleep-deprived and overwhelmed by the million things I’ll need to do, but somehow all this jittery energy, which has always felt like crippling nervousness, now feels grounding. The tension in my belly reminds me what it's like to be really alive, an involuntary pinching to validate that this is real.
The tension is unfolding, taking space under the sun and soaking up every ounce of beauty. Carefree yet poised. Frenzied preparations followed by frenzied exploration.
I'm greeted by a fresh heat as I step out of the airport. I see patchworks and hodgepodges, of colors, languages, and construction materials, stream by as I ride the rush hour traffic into the city.
I'm keeping Adventure waiting, so I better get going.
P.S. pls send me recs for New York City and especially Brooklyn (I'll be staying in Prospect Heights) for your favorite food, activities, thrifting, unique/cool local events. I'll be here for the next 7 weeks!