December 17, 2011

No Place

Down to the last two days of London (almost one, at this point) and it's certainly bittersweet. Everyone has been leaving for their various European home countries for Christmas, and I'm anticipating being even more emotional about the whole thing when I'm bidding so long to London myself. I'm trying to make the most of my final days here, but on most of these occasions I've left my camera behind, so not much to show for it, photo-wise.

The strange thing about adventures is how they always seem to come full circle. You see this all the time -- the hero returns home, a previously unlearned lesson is recognized, lovers meet again where they met at the start of it all... It's finally becoming apparent to me how much I really have accomplished this quarter, the ways I have grown, and the skills I have gained. I'm not going to go about pretending I'm cured of co-dependence, deprived of superfluous emotion, or void of anxiety (ha! can't even type that without laughing), but I do believe this journey, this city, and the people I've met along the way have helped me address these issues personally and have spruced me up to more of the woman I would like to become, one fresh coat at a time.

Sort of like a specific scene in a film I hold very close to heart...


Dorothy begins in a world very much in line with what I often perceive Seattle to be. Washington and Kansas have very little in common per sae, but the dreary, overcast, gosh-there-really-must-be-something-beyond-this-gloomy-prison aspect resonates quite well with what I feel every time I hear Dorothy's iconic song.


I have no idea what it's like not to have 
a million different childhood emotions connected to this song, 
and I'm glad I never will. It feels like a security 
blanket and hug from Mom & Dad all at the same time.


In my head, I'm always going to be something of a Dorothy Gale. Dorothy's curiosity, restlessness, familial devotion, innocent egoism (which I may not be able to get away with anymore, now that I'm not 15...), and penchant for total emotional breakdown when things look like they're not tending her way are all qualities I (for better or worse) totally identify with, and have since I was about 2, apparently. My dad and, in some weird Oedipal way, every man I devote myself to is going to remind me a bit of the Scarecrow. Men I do not date will always fall into one of two categories: Tin Men (too emotional) or Cowardly Lions (too macho). Everyone who offends me is a Wicked Old Witch with a weakness to something in their subconscious -- *WATER* WOAH, JUNG -- that has caused them to behave as such. They throw flying monkeys out of nowhere -- stress-demons who threaten to carry you away from the familiar and safe (and your little dog, too). My Mom and every woman I look up to is Galinda: beautiful, poised, and self-confident enough to float around in something as thin as a bubble to gain perspective. And then there are Wizards. Wizards like my laptop and Hollywood and designer clothes double chocolate Hostess donuts and people who claim you need them to get anywhere in life. All those Wizards who distract us from our personal goals -- from the real stuff of life; for no reason but the personal amusement they gain from tempting your vulnerable self-esteem with their humbug siren-songs. Wizards and witches and hearts and brains... what's a girl to do?

Follow the yellow brick road of course.

And I did.

To Scotland...


and Belgium...


through France....


to Spain...


and finally to London, my home away from home.


At the end of all things I'll return to the familiar Spokane, and shortly after that I'll arrive in the Emerald City itself.

On my way I met some Glindas and some Tin Men. Some lions, little dogs, and, unfortunately, some Wicked Witches, too. I had a steadfast Scarecrow helping me through a lot of useless anxieties and uncertainties. I'm not sure I figured out just what my ruby slippers are, but I know they got me to the end of this journey in one very much wiser piece.

It's difficult knowing where you stand at the end of such a long adventure. Part of you doesn't really feel like it's over yet -- like this is just the beginning, the taste, the first episode, of one great enormous confusing whirlwind of a good time we call life. Realistically speaking, I know I'm reentering reality with its unfortunate brown-and-white wash of familiarity, albeit calming in its simplicity after so much technicolor. And with this, I know the fantasy freeze-frame that was the last six months (2 years, if you count all the planning) is finally coming to its close, and the time has come to face much bigger adventures -- ones without gleaming slippers and perfectly paved roads to lead the way. Despite this, I do feel I've gained a set of skills from this trip that will see me through all sorts of issues. I won't bore you by listing them all -- I'm not even sure I could name them exactly -- but I will posit this as a final reflection on the matter:

Benjamin Button says: "It's a funny thing about coming home; looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You realize what's changed is you."  This quote came on through on iTunes, ironically enough, as I was packing my bags, and I had to smile. There really is no place like home, but not in the sense you might immediately think. It's not so much that nothing ever measures up to that solidified childhood ideal of family and hearth, but more that "home" is no where -- or no place. I'm sure this has to do with that cliche "home is where the heart is" and what not, but seriously: home, like time, is relative. It's wherever we choose to make it, though sometimes where we wish it didn't have to be. I wish the place I've felt more at home than almost anywhere wasn't an ocean and continent away from the place most others would call my "home." I wish the people at the latter location were guaranteed to follow me to my next home, like a little snail shell support system, piggybacking from one city to the next. I guess that'd be a pretty selfish way to live one's life; after all, one person's home is another person's hell.


Accepting that one's home is transmutable is refreshing, but bittersweetly so. It makes everything impermanent, and there's a kind of sadness to that. It's interesting, as we do in the world of nostalgia, to trace back our history through our old homes -- our dreaming minds accomplish this best. Think about how often you have house dreams. (Better yet, research what they mean sometime -- it's crazy.) I imagine by the time we're lying on our deathbed our memories will have constructed an entire neighborhood through which we might examine parts of ourselves, abandoned or otherwise.

In mine, there's a big old-fashioned mansion with lonely rooms that I associate with a childhood fascination with the unknown. Outside the window there's a tree house where other kids play, which I regard with mingled longing and anticipation. Beside the tree house there's a park where memories of early teenage friendships -- not all of which have died -- dance beside a pond in the sunlight. Across the pond lies a humble cottage with good food and good friends, cushions and pillows, and the room is alight with bobbing candle flames, which are really just voiced emotions kindled by empathy. There's a blue bird flitting in and out of the window, chirruping a very interesting song. And beside this there's a round modern art-ish structure with a staircase that seems to reach a mile high, and on each level there are eyes staring, judging, watching. In the structure's window, though I see the happy face of a wise man, reaching out to point me to the next level. And on the roof is a garden. And beyond the garden, I can't yet see.

I'm so happy to have been afforded this experience, and it's difficult to find words to express why. Any personal journey is impossible to translate perfectly, but I imagine you've experienced something comparable -- something important enough to build a house in your own brain. Maybe even something so great it got sucked up in a tornado and transported into a reality of its own.

Blessings, Peace, Comfort and Joy,

Thanks for reading.

-R.B.

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