May 5th, 2009

Cats: The way to heaven

Wandering thoughts

The van fell through. But that's OK, there will be other vans. The upcoming holiday plans will have to be rewritten; a flight to Melbourne instead of a van, but that's okay too, it'll mean less time off work and less time spent travelling - and more time spent enjoying Being There. There are plenty of other vans, the right one will come along.

I have felt strange lately. I'd say it has a lot to do with how I fell out of my workaday routine while I was sick at home, and stopped taking my anti-pms pills. While I'm on an exceedingly light dose (think a quarter of a tic-tac a day), adjusting to being off them over four or so days was perturbing. I'd started hearing nasty internal dialogue from my own reflection again; haven't had that for a while. And the Doubting of Everything... I'd almost forgotten what that was like. Back on them today.

Still, this hiccup kicked my wanderlust back into gear. Joe and I went to a picnic at Mt Cootha with Erinn, Ro, Cameron, and a bunch of their friends (one of whom was Adrian, a dude I worked at Fuze with... which just goes to show that all the awesome people in Brisbane are connected in a vast network of awesome). The two of us arrived early so we could go on our own private bushwalk. Climbing up to a waterfall, we talked about the van and places we'd like to go, and I talked again about this idea that I'd like to live on the road for a while - just a year or two - living in the van, working physical jobs, following the fruit picking circuit around Australia, writing in between it all. I struggle with this feeling of uselessness in my current job. I'm paid a shitload of money to make pretty little pictures that go into machines designed to mathematically strip their users of cash. Whilst the fact that I'm creating something tangible should give me job satisfaction, I just don't have it. I don't feel connected to anything. I've no passion left for this line of work.

Sounds like I'm whinging, right? I get paid to paint for eight hours a day. My coworkers are brilliant, awesome people and great friends; the working conditions are wonderful, and for the most part my bosses are reasonable men. This is most people's dream job.

But I want to do something HARD. Something that challenges me every day. Something that contributes to the world in a way that is simple and tangible, but not destructive. I'm sure it all sounds like hippie bullshit, and after a couple of weeks of breaking my back picking apples I'm sure I'll probably have a whole new set of things to bitch and moan about, but nevertheless, I want to do it. And I want to feel like I can go wherever I feel like going, stay as long as I feel like staying, and know that in the next month, or even the next week, I will not be in exactly the same place doing exactly the same things.

I want to be free of the weight of possessions too. In that pursuit, I reorganized the kitchen and bathroom on Monday, put some systems in place, threw out a bunch of stuff, and it helped a little. I wandered through the garage assessing what can go (90% of the stuff in there) and what can stay, so that the job will be faster when we finally have a van to drive all that crap to the dump and/or St Vinnies.

Don't get me wrong. Eventually I want a house, children, even a marriage (though I question a number of aspects of that tradition) - but not now, not yet. Right now I want to be free, while I'm young and healthy but unfettered, before I'm responsible for little lives and big mortgage payments.

What I have right now is an uncomfortable middle ground. I do not have the stability and (different) freedom of my own home. Joe and I share with another and in everything we do we have to be mindful of that, and we have never been the best at being mindful in that way. It's a weight. Knowing that our living companion has to be mindful of us in return is another weight. Then there are the little things that make a house seem like home, and they are things I can't do: I can't hang pictures or repaint or spread out; in short, I can't really make it a home. I have no right to; it's NOT my home, it's just the place where I live, my ticket forked over in fifties and twenties each fortnight. And sometimes it feels like, well, if I can't do any of that fun settling-in stuff, why do anything at all? Why not just leave piles of crap in the garage and scrape by doing the bare minimum of organisation? We're only clinging on the back of someone else's beast; why get comfortable? Historically I've moved once a year, EVERY year, since I left home eight years ago. I've never given myself time to get comfortable anywhere. Reorganising the kitchen and bathroom stuff so it was "how I want it" rather than just "functionally and minimally unpacked from cardboard boxes" was a new experience. We've now lived here for almost a year. For once, we're not planning to go anywhere. This is about as comfortable as I've been in any living arrangement.

But still there's that middle-ground feeling; we've too many possessions and obligations to be free but too few possessions and obligations to be safe, anchored, established. We're drifting in a quasi-reality, our future still undefined, but the day on which we contemplate signing the next 20 years over to a mortgage and some kids is visible on the horizon.

I know nobody can be entirely free; I know eventually you're meant to settle down and become a Contributing Member of Society, and I plan to do so. But between now and that looming eventuality of commitment is this expanse of Choice. Freedom. To spend the next few years just... painting empty shiny pictures for gambling machines, and paying the rent, and doing it all again and again every day, seems to me a terrible waste of an opportunity.

I never want to look back on my life and wonder what I might have missed out on.