Monday, October 22, 2012

All This Useless Beauty

Twelve years later in Taos...the same view from the same window from the painting studio in the stupendously wonderful adobe lodge that butts up against the Taos Pueblo. And always a little washcloth, dry as a bone in the high desert air, hanging from a curiously placed clothesline. It only took  about 48 hours for the joy from our gathering to wear off. I changed my ticket to blow off my Austin trip to come back to Portland early, as I wanted to get to winter as soon as possible. It did not disappoint - we went straight from hot and sunny to pure winter. I had an even more difficult summer this year than last year - I have no air conditioning, and was even more depressed than I can ever remember being. I don't understand why I can't just roll with it - I'm looking to move to Alaska next summer, it seems to be the only reasonable option left.

I have not looked at facebook in a while as I don't want to see what I'm missing at McMurdo. No matter how many awesome things are going on right in front of me, I am still grief-stricken that I am not there. I keep trying to distract myself from the grief with a variety of activities and spectacular trips, and even grueling jobs help, but the hole in my soul is there, and I don't know what to do with it. Sometimes I feel very childish and embarrassed that I feel this way - I mean, aren't there a million other wonderful things I could be doing? A friend of mine who just found out I painted couldn't believe that I would rather be driving a loader in Antarctica than having art shows. How do I explain to him that going to the Ice was the fulfillment of every dream I ever had and some I didn't even know I had. Today, I went on a job interview at the airport regarding cargo and airplanes and it all sounded very exciting and with this cold weather even might be a little reminiscent of my old life, and while I was putting on my steel toed boot this morning, I looked over at my little dog, who was looking at me cuz he always wants to go with me, and I thought, I could just toss this eight pound shoe onto this 7 pound dog and could it all be over with  - but what kind of sociopath thinks that way? To be so relentlessly enmeshed with my memories of this place, to re-visit in my mind over and over again with euphoric recall the tiny details of deployment and redeployment, to remember running to the CDC with my luggage on that wobbly cart to dump all my ECW and be free again! And then to start the cycle over 6 months later. Do I love my Ice career more than my dog? Absolutely. But I still stick to the plan of taking care of him til he's gone.

What I miss most is that cycle: 6 months on, 6 months time to get into a rut, no time to get into a toxic relationship, everything has an end date, everything can be fresh, new and exciting again. I no longer thing anything is wrong with me when I feel this urgent need for excitement. I honor it. It is who I am. More Excitement Please.

I just read several stunningly good books in a row: Both of Cheryl Strayed's books, and Philip Roth's American Pastoral. Still reeling from all that good writing. There is so much talent in the world. So many beautiful things being gestured and created every moment - and at the same time dear friends losing beloved pets and parents, and the world keeps turning. Impersonal. Gracious. Full of mystery.

It is dawning on me that maybe it's time for a new dream. This idea just hit me today. It is terrifying in the sense that I already KNOW what is best for me...or do I?...I've been digging my heels in so bratty and tight-jawed, clinging to the past, that I haven't even considered that there could be anything else out there...could there? Could the universe be so full and bursting with fruit that something as wonderful, as the Ice could come into my life if I'd just consider it? Well I have to consider it - because I've had my tantrums long enough and I'm sick of myself. It is time to see the world with present day eyes and kick the king baby crybaby to the curb.

My friends in Taos kept seeing me sneak off to my room when I was supposed to be painting. I was sneaking off to knit...I approach knitting with the slobbering glee I used to approach the mirror piled with powdery goods...and I heard myself tell this friend "knitting solves everything"...and it felt really true. When I am engaged in it there is nothing else going on in the world and my brain is silenced. Knitting solves everything...and for some reason I took my first year's worth of knitting to Taos, and sold every bit of it.  That was really great!

There is another hole in my soul that is filled by my parents love. I was with them for 10 days and didn't have to make any decisions and we just ate packaged dinners and watch shows on a massive flatscreen. It doesn't sound like a big adventure, but being with them after moving so far away is really precious to me. A lot of my friends don't have parents anymore. I feel very grateful that I have mine.