Culture: The Antidote

January 20, 2015

It's hard to believe there was once a time when I had no knowledge of the french press or its wonderful superiority. It's even harder to believe I went through a period of life feeling so apathetic that I thought travel was pointless. Unfortunately, the quickest cure to that mentality would have been to travel, but I was far from that conclusion, longing, instead, for the world showcase in Disney World more than the real Paris itself. I listened to a lot of the same music, ate a lot of the same things, craved all the same indulgences, and felt like there was nothing more but the ups and downs that distinguished one day from the next.

What changed? I lost someone I was very close to and sought escape in a life of numbing solitude. I thought there was little reason to believe life mattered. And it really doesn't if you think it doesn't. I chose to avoid real relationships, wallow in my sadness, and delude myself into a cyber existence with Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk. My twitter feed from that time could be titled, "Netflix: Quit self for birth of multiple fictional personalities that are BETTER".


None of that time period really matters because no one experienced it but me and I was so immersed in my strangely though faintly satisfying despondency that I gained nothing and don't remember much. The Twitter feed tells all I need to know.

Eventually, however, I realized something: I had been the object of everyone's pity as a result of everything that happened. What I wanted - what we all want - was to be someone admired. I wanted to be happy again. I realized, if I could overcome it all, I could be better off than I had been before. I rediscovered a message from my cousin who'd lost his father and brother: never forget that you are still here. I had been in too much of a grieving stupor to process that when I'd first seen it, but now that my skies were clearing up, the road was opening, a path out was visible, it had an impact.

So, when I was offered the chance to travel again, I took it three times over in one summer. I went to Hawaii, basked in the clearest waters with sea turtles, went scuba diving, and paddle boarded. I went straight from there halfway across the world on my own to England to see my best friend get married and ended up alone in Scotland afterward, eating a slice of stale lavender cake in a seat very likely once occupied by JK Rowling in view of the Hogwarts-inspiring Edinburgh castle. I was there to mark the year anniversary of my loss and in the early hours of that morning, I experienced sleep paralysis with two shadows standing over me asking one another if I was alright before I woke up and was able to move, entirely alone again. Spooky. I tried the french press for the first time, eavesdropped on gloriously accented conversation, and ate haggis chips good lord. Later that summer, I traveled the California coast from San Fran to LA with my sister and a bus full of geriatric travelers.

The view that inspired the boy who lived.

I met a very handsome, thoughtful, and proactive stud muffin. We explored outside and old places became novel experiences spent together. Everything was new and a whole world of untapped enjoyment opened up to me. I belly laugh now. It's a big deal. I must also take this opportunity to alert you to this magnificent cockatoo, for her brand of humor is simply overwhelming.

The whole world awaits and you just have to decide to say yes. Nothing is permanent. I will look back on my life now someday and miss it. I will miss my stinky, poorly-built dog, my overpriced apartment, the kids I work with, my health, my youth. It may only get harder, it may get better, but I know I will remember this time in my life fondly. All I can do is appreciate it now and know what I have to be grateful for. If all else fails in my quiet existence in Austin, TX, there is an entire world out there to explore and learn from.


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