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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

On Traveling Alone

I choose my friends sparingly.  
After my years of communal living, having had constant partners with whom I had joined my life, the liberated feeling of choosing my friends freely surprisingly resulted in having only few of them.  Whether this is still because of my post-communal reactionary tendencies or rather a falling into place of my self, all I know is that only few people are allowed through the rigid barriers I have construed that would  deem  a person worthy of, frankly, myself.
But this prerogative is not bestowed upon me easily while traveling, especially alone. As much as my books maintain their status as my main travel companion, loneliness in fact presents itself rather forcefully at times.  While the novelty of fiction as a compassionate aid through tiresome and lengthy bus rides has surprised me, I still find myself longing for a passionate exchange, or even collision, of ideas, of personalities and of beings.  This requires of me the dual tedious task of both lowering my barriers to entry I have so passionately constructed, and even more concerning, a sifting through the masses that pass by my way, testing to see if an interaction may bear fruit. I find myself observing for a while before I engage: a baseball cap shifted slightly to the right, with a bro-y mannerism - look away immediately before our eyes might meet; a dreadlocked "brother" nodding in my direction with an accessory that appears overly stylized - do not reciprocate with the common trustafarian nod; the allure of a dark eyed beauty draws me in to eves drop on the conversation, only to be once again disappointed by a bitchy tone or an overly accentuated effort to seem effortless.
Though I enjoy the enduring observations, and when following through I often affirm my initial observation with further reasons why I shouldn't have engaged in a leisurely interaction anyway (you see, she really was stupid, and so forth), I am also immediately reminded that my oh-so judgmental self is, yet still, alone.  It's usually at that low point that I find myself spontaneously beginning a conversation.  And while it still takes me what seems to be forever to decide what my opening line shall be, I usually muster the courage only to begin with the most congenial "so, where are you from?" or maybe a "so where are you heading?".  The necessity of courage doesn't stem from the anxiety of beginning a random conversation, but rather to prepare myself for yet another disappointment at the human material of the world. 
And while you may be jittering a tad awkwardly in your seat to my presumptuousness, my pomposity and of course my blatant arrogance (and my dad is smiling hesitantly in the corner, since he is the one who taught me that 95 percent of the world is stupid, and only 85 percent when he was feeling generous), I want to reassure you that I find no particular joy in my menacing view of people.  It prevents me from seeing the people for who they really are, and prevents me from exploring the world I so purposefully set out to explore. It denies me of experiencing that exchange I claim to long for, and leaves me once again alone, with my thoughts and my books.
But the solid truth is that this conundrum, this battle of self, this everlasting tension of being, mostly exists in my overly analytical imagination.  My bloated facebook account reveals quite a few new "friends", and reminds me of some stimulating exchanges.  My expanded Swedish vocabulary and newfound knowledge of French, reminds me that I have encountered with other beings, and once again shared my casual horror stories from my wilderness therapy endeavors. My new surf-bro vocabulary (rad, gnar and shred) has found itself into at least one of my sentences, albeit in an aware effort to blend in with the local scene.  I found the people I would like and enjoy spending time with quite quickly, and stayed in their company even longer than I had expected - usually a sign of satisfaction, or at least entertainment.
I think my over analysis may just be a symptom of stepping out of my comfort zone. No worries, I'll be back in it on Monday, travel time is almost over anyway.

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