Fishtrap Week 8: Reflections

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I’ve been putting this off because there is something I don’t want to admit. I’ve got plenty to reflect on for Week 8. I could write about teaching. I could write about public education systems. I could write about the fact that, for months on end, I have forgotten to remember that spring is actually going to happen. But I can’t seem to get any of that down on the page until I come clean with myself and just admit it:
I feel terribly lonely.
It’s the kind of loneliness that manifest beneath the surface, like thin tendrils of mold infiltrating a block of cheese before the fated, blue stain blossoms on the surface.
I have friends here. We greet each other and check in. Sometimes I go on a walk with one of them, once a week. We email or wave from across the room at community events. It is all very nice and genuine. I also have friends far and wide in this country. We email. We talk on the phone. Sometimes we even send real mail.
What I don’t have is steady interaction, in person, with someone that:
a)   makes me laugh or can laugh with me
b)   tends toward a similar, healthy-living lifestyle
c)    knows me well (as more than just the writer on the 2-year tour)
One big reason for getting’ outta dodge on May and June was to shake things up a bit. But when it came down to decision time, I didn’t have the internal resources to put myself back on the road again and start getting to know new people, new landscapes, new roads, and new communities all over again. I had hoped for an excursion of some kind—the train trip across Siberia, the backpacking trip in the Arctic. But my travel buddy for Siberia shifted gears and my broken foot didn’t mend soon enough to sign up for the trip to the Arctic.
Now, when I think about crafting an excursion for myself (A last-minute Caribbean getaway? A backpacking trip in the Wallowas? A long train ride across Canada?), I don’t feel I have the internal resources for that, either. I could do any of those things financially and logistically. What’s holding me back is that I want a friend to share them with. The two-year tour has made me so weary of exploring new terrain on my own (I’ve got the formula down pat) that about the only thing I can stand to imagine right now is a guided trip to some unknown place with some unknown friend that makes me laugh, everyday, at some unknown jokes.
Just as publicly complaining is rather unlike me, so is feeling listless. But it wouldn’t be an honest representation of the tour if I didn’t include both the highs and the lows. The little sliver of light in all of this is that I feel like I have been in this place before. And if I’ve been in this place before, maybe this is my second chance to approach the dilemma differently. How did I handle it before? I searched for anything that looked like companionship and I bent over backwards to reel it in.
This time, there will be no reeling it in.
This time, there will be no compromise.
There is just the gift of one day at a time. Of careful self-examination and self-support. Because I’m not going to be any good to anybody if I can’t dig myself out of this hole on my own. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Being strong enough ourselves to do good for others.
Showing 3 comments
  • Marisa

    Katey, though my life circumstances are very differently from yours, I so deeply and truly understand being in a place where you don't have the internal resources for something. I've been running into that a lot lately.

    I am sending you vast quantities of love.

  • Jan Priddy, Oregon

    Regardless of circumstances, the sense of isolation is painful. I think we all feel it and we all seek ways to sooth that troubled animal within that wants so much to cozy up and sleep, comforted in a cave of our fellows.

    What you are doing matters. It matters to you and it matters to others.

  • Kyle Lang

    Get here, get here, get here. Can't wait to be in the same room!

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