Everyone keeps asking if I still feel like the world is constantly moving beneath me. Or if it feels good to be on land after dark. Honestly, I haven’t even noticed these things. This is an emotional decompression, not physical.
I guess the best way to describe life post-boat is this: it feels like someone cracked my chest and yanked my heart halfway out, so it’s just dangling against my abdomen, and everything I feel is spiked to a volume of eleven. It’s intense to feel split like a open nerve. Like a bad tooth, you just can’t stop touching it to see if it still hurts.
You may remember I hate endings. And right now I’m in the middle of a doozy: I left the ship three weeks ago, 2011 is coming to a close. Plus there’s this little dreamy impossible wish I’ve been cherishing the past two months, holding it tight in my electric bleeding heart, that I’m finally realizing is also at its end point. But it’s just too much over-ness at once, and I’m having trouble prying that dream out of my desperate white-knuckled fist. Let’s not talk about it.
I read that it takes humans eighty days to adapt to new circumstances completely. Basically we can get used to anything with time. I can’t confirm this statistic despite my googling, but I wonder sometimes why we have to go through it, the adjustment phase. Why can’t I just step into new circumstances and acclimate immediately? Why do I need to go through the melancholy and bittersweetness of missing and regretting and wishing I could go back back back? Why can’t I just be used to it already?
Life rolls merrily along though, and things are back to exactly what they were before I left. A little too much so. I work, I read, I see friends, I sleep. I eat comfort foods. I miss my shippies heaps. It seems like right when I finally get used to something, right when I feel I belong, that’s when everything changes again. Life is cruel. But the missing will fade as this becomes my reality again. I always feel like I’m split in two, caught between two worlds. My life is all dichotomies.
Staring down the face of 2012 looks exactly like the glare of 2011, which makes me uncomfortable. New Year’s may be an artificially imposed benchmark, but it’s a benchmark nonetheless. Truly, nothing has changed. I’m still struggling for work in New York, still single, still unpublished. A whole year of life has passed and I have not taken even a baby step forward. Six months at sea have not significantly altered my life. What do I have to do to get things jumpstarted around here?
Look, I see silver linings. When I began 2011, spending half the year on a ship was not even a thought in my head. I never imagined last New Year’s Eve that I’d see all the places I saw this year. I met some amazing people on that ship, more than I ever would have met moping around New York. No regrets for going. And hey, New York! This is the only place I could be right now and find any comfort. I have good friends here. There is human frailty and beauty all around me and my six months away have made me a better study of it. I have some money saved so I can actually focus on writing for a few months. Missing people means I had connection. I’d certainly rather miss them than never have met them.
In 2012, I need to work on accepting that my life will never be conventional, and that is okay. I want those conventional things – badly: love, home, babies, stability. But I also want…other things. I’ve been home three weeks and I’m already completely tweaked to get out and see something new. I’m looking at flights on Kayak, trying to figure out a budget, how far I can go. A baby, a full time job: they seem like paperweights, holding me down. I should feel lucky I can go when I want to go…I don’t quite feel that way. But I’m working on it.
I may not have gotten any momentum this year, but I’m grateful for it anyway. For all the tremendous people who touched my life, for all the beautiful places I saw, for the ways I got to grow…2011 was pretty okay. And though I can’t see my way out of 2012, I’m going to remain optimistic that the unpredictable can turn out surprisingly good.
I wish you an amazing, unpredictable 2012. Try wearing your heart on the outside a little this year. Sure it might hurt some, but you’ll be grateful to feel so alive.