October 18, 2007

Toilet Nostalgia

I never expected to feel this way, but I guess it was inevitable.

It was two hundred and sixteen days out in the world and another thirty days in Middle America before we returned home. And in regards to the world vs. home, that's roughly half a year of trying to forget about home and then another couple of months trying to remember.

As you can imagine, I greatly anticipated syncing back up with Los Angeles. LA meant a city I halfway understood, home meant my own familiar apartment, and a living space meant having a refrigerator again. I eagerly looked forward to sipping wine with people that I had known for longer than an hour. So assuming a breezy transition back into normal life would await me on arrival, I hadn't given home much more thought. Struggle was not something I would have foreseen. But I forgot that life in America moves at the speed of sound, that here we have an innate propensity to accomplish. I guess the world of adult responsibility sort of escapes you after so many months of doing whatever the hell you want.

In these early days, I find myself stumbling into this new (old) world. My capacity for everyday tasks is far less than it used to be, almost as if every day my body and mind turn off at a certain point, even though I still need to find a cell phone plan and buy a kitchen table. I wrote a post in Turkey about how I felt busy while digging a hole in the sand and ended it with a joke about how I'd have to let you know how it goes when I get to LA. Well, this is how it goes.

So now as I relearn the burden of obligation, I find myself nostalgic at every turn. Like when my cell phone rings and I grudgingly wish that I couldn’t be found at every single moment of my day. Or how nice it would be to read for hours on end without distractions like bills and the Internet. But the most remarkable nostalgia, the time when everything about the trip comes into focus, is when I'm sitting on the toilet longing for the days when I had to throw my TP into the trashcan.

It seems finding my rhythm is going to take a while. In the meantime, I'll be posting a commentary of sorts here at jackatrandom – the one thing I did then that I can do now.


Gwen Jackson said...

Thanks for the transition thoughts, Josh. Funny the images and memories we bring with us after travel. I still think from time to time about a toilet (it was more like a cow stall) experience I had in Russia ten years ago. I remembering saying I would never complain about another public restroom again.

Keith Drury said...

While I have only "gone away" for a few months at a time, I note this every time I come home. Sharon calls me "mellow" and my attitude to most everything is whatever." Perhaps this is the great advantage of such drop-out treks... one resets pace and defrags the hard drive of life and then returns to the rapid pace of life questioning the rapid pace of life?

Deur said...

go urban amish dude! I think something inside us knows the pace is crazy, but we can't see another way... (internal sabbath desire for rest or something.) It takes courage to enter into a new slower pace when everything is screaming at you to keep up... Great reminder to find that place is this space. Good name for the site.

Josh Jackson said...

It's almost as if there needs to be a prescribed formula for those who return to the American way of life after dropping off the face of the earth, long distance hiking or any other form of a sabbatical. This would be mine:

1st month - No job, enjoy friendships, no work, crash on couches, watch movies, read the newspaper

2nd month - Still no job, find a living space, start settling in by updating details (health insurance, gym memberships, buying stuff for apt/house, a new netflix free trial), watch movies, read

3rd month - Get a job and work 20 hours a week

Or something like that.

I managed to cram 3 months into 1 and now feel overwhelmed by, well, pretty much everything.

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