Hi again! I am traveling around the US and writing about it, and there seems to be no end in sight.
US Tour Day 28: Summertime
I flew home today. Or, rather I flew towards where home used to be. I am at a loss for where home is now. I Just don't know.
Let's start with what I do know. I know I started this morning in Austin, Texas. And, I know I ended up in San Jose, California some time just after lunch. Ah, yes, lunch. Lunch was on my mind. It's not unusual for me to use meals as my gauge of time. I don't say, "Remember? It was the evening we had that conversation that changed our lives forever for the better and we met the president and we ate sashimi off the backs of supermodels and then had sex with everyone in both sororities." Instead, it's, "Remember? It was four dinners ago." After a day of flying I was acutely aware of lunch due to its stark absence. The two molecules of peanut dust the stewardess gave left my stomach empty, pouting, and moody. So, lunch was my sundial on that sunny day in San Jose.
There is something very comfortable and homelike about flying into San Jose. Familiarity fills the landscape. And, there's a game I've played there ever since my first airplane flight. During those last minutes before the plane lands I glue my eyeballs to the tiny window, peering out to see if I can spot my mom's house among the scattered mess of brown roofs. I scan the freeways and buildings to get my bearings—my mind races with the speeding landscape below to gather a sense of direction. I've found the house more than once. One time I even found my grandmother's house. Another time I found my high school. I grew up in San Jose, and it is the only city whose topography is familiar enough for such things—and the only place where I have enough history for this game.
I was born in that now sprawling place named so long ago after Saint Joseph—once a valley of orchards, now the Valley of Silicon. I lived there until I was 25. Now I live wherever I am. Since my girlfriend and I broke up I've been without any real, constant place to lay my head, hang my hat, or throw the clothes I wore that day on the floor. And I've been without any real sense of home.
It was about to get worse. I was flying back to San Jose to finally remove my belongings from the place I used to live with the girl—a house on the beach in San Francisco. My belongings, oh, my material things! My belongings had lived well during the last month, as they had a comfortable life in my old house. They had the company of my ex–girlfriend. Plus, they got to mingle with all of her many belongings and whatever people she was bringing around to visit.
Poor belongings. I was like the grim reaper for them—the bearer of bad news. It was my job to come and inform them that they could no longer live in that place. I would be ushering them into moving boxes and then into a horrible, dark storage space. I mean, they would still have one another's company. They would all be in the same place, going through the same trials and times together. But, I knew they'd be suffering, a lot like I'd been.
Storage seems like death for material things. They don't shine; they starve for the touch of human hands or the appreciation of friendly eye; they rest in peace like the dead in cardboard box caskets. I'd been having a hard enough time. I wasn't excited to break their inanimate hearts. It seemed so sad to me.
I talked with my friend Ray a few days earlier about moving, about putting my things in storage. He told me that I shouldn't be so sad. He assured me storage was no different from living with one's belongings. He said that moving out of a house was in fact the best time, the summertime of our belongings. The rest of the time they're hibernating—dormant.
It made sense. During the years we live in a home, our belonging mostly spend their time on shelves, in drawers, in closets, under the bed, lost in the garage, and lonely. It is only in the midst of the pain of moving that we hold these items in our hands once again, caressing them with our gaze, allowing them to receive our full attention. It's often the only time we even remember that we own them. And, it is the time when we remember—the time we are reminded, rather—why we own them. But, the why itself is not nearly as important as the fields spreading from horizon to horizon of memories and emotions which are re–ignited by the why during this season.
I found my first diary, and my heart was swept back to the day I bought it. I was in San Bernardino, about to go on my first US tour. Simply by holding the green book in my hand, countless moments—which I had considered lost in my memory forever—flowered in my mind. I could see it all: I was riding in a van from show to show. I dove from the stage into the crowd in Dallas, Texas, and their hands held me up. I longed after my girlfriend back home as much as a 16 year old could.
Then I picked up a black and white book, a scrap book made for me by a wonderful Norwegian woman that I loved not even a quarter as much as she deserved. Feelings of her spider–webbed out from my core to my fingertips, her smell filled my nose. She loved food, and often licked her plate when she was done eating. I remembered her kiss, her touch, the curve of her waist in the dim twilight of Norway's winter.
A letter from my mother, glass beads I bought in Kenya, the steering wheel from my old Fiat, naked photos of an old lover taken by an unkown photographer in some studio somewhere. Promo photos from a band I booked a tour for, my first yearbook, my father's wrist watch. My skin and heart and mind burned during this summertime. My mind danced between present and past in fractals—frantic connections between places and times and objects exploded within me like poppies explode across the Moroccan landscape.
The winter before had been so long that I had forgotten this time.
I took more books from the shelves, more clothes from the closet, more art from the walls, every thing I touched igniting memories like wildfires. And I put each item into a moving box. I made a list of what was in each box, keeping careful notes so I could find each thing later. A hall full of empty, flat cardboard soon transformed into truckload after truckload of boxes, each little cardboard house bursting with the seeds—and fruits—of a life of memories, each bursting with the fruits of what used to be my home.
And, before I knew it, summer was over as quickly as it had started. I guess time flies when you're sitting on the floor of a room full of boxes, clutching old letters, and sobbing a roaring waterfall of tears for moments which can not be reclaimed.
I know what I know. I know the summer is over. And, I know I don't know where home is anymore. But, hopefully the winter will fly by and I will soon be reunited with a place I can at least trick myself into thinking is my own. Of course I'm thankful for my thoughts and and the clothes on my back, but I can't help but long for a place of comfort and nakedness beyond them. And I have hope that I will soon be reunited with my slumbering belongings and experience the embracing warmth of all those moments that now hibernate, waiting for the summer again.
PREVIOUS ENTRY - NEXT ENTRY