Downtown Manhattan, 2014, by Charlie Grosso

Anywhere but here…(The author squirms in extreme discomfort and restraints are necessary to prevent her from doing something bad)…Part 2

I’m not the anywhere but here girl, that is not what this is. I can do this. I can stay put… I can do this. All the bits of Zen and happiness and light I found and gathered and tapped into from six-months on the road is nowhere to be found. They are hiding under a boulder inside of a clasped cave guarded by angry dragons with migraines. Why is it so hard to be home? Why is it so hard to be here —- this city that I’ve carefully chosen out of the thousands of cities to be my —- home?

I am squirming inside.

Life on the edge. I believe in a life lived on the edge. On that mostly metaphorical precipice, the place of discomfort, we grow and become our best. The road takes me to my own leading edge over and over again. Now, I am forced to wonder if home is the new frontier, judging by the desire to gnaw my arm off for a quick escape. These are signs of transformation, I murmur under my breath on the crowded subway, swallowing a scream, trying to find calm.

The conditioning is particularly loud when you are home. Here, at the Headquarter where the American dream is crafted, packaged and sold, getting you to buy what it’s selling is the only objective. Everything else, your childish whim to be free of the programming is just a barely audible static in this propaganda broadcast. The box, the box of should(s) —- a single track career, savings, retirement, insurance, security, debt to income ratio, home ownership, marriage and children and I don’t even know what else is heard on all frequencies, digital and analogue, coded in inspired meal, sustainably sourced espresso and artisanal cocktails. On the road, the noise of the calm and the delight of the discovery mute the programming. On the road, the box lives in another universe, one with a different atmosphere and time space continuum. In the city, the box follows me around everywhere I go. I get myself tangled up in a private war —- inside of my head —- with all the should(s).

Round peg square hole. Or is it square peg round hole? Either way, the box and I are on round 18 of mortal combat, I am bloody, exhausted and depressed. I want to start a fight. I want to crawl out of my skin. This is when a drug habit or a drinking problem would come in handy. I look at my phone and mentally list whom I could call for a night of wanton nothing. A meaningless night is the only self-destructive thing I know how to do; too many drinks followed by sex with narcissists would alleviate all these excessing feelings.

Someone save me from myself. I don’t go out and spent the night staring at the blinking cursor.

Maybe New York and I are done. Maybe I will fail this re-entry, ricocheted off the atmosphere like many before me. Despite of a closet full of cloths, I keep on reaching for the few presentable shirts and skirts and the hiking boots I’ve been living in these last six-months. It could be a habit, or something more pathological, a quiet wish to replicate the road here, somehow.

What is it about the road that feels so right? Why do I love those far-flung corners of the world?

I found out K is in Iraq, reporting for the newspaper he works for. In his last email to me, he wrote, “Learning how to ride a motorbike in Hanoi sounds wonderful. I am fighting off tedium in this velvet cage.” To volunteer for a posting in Iraq, now —- that is one way to fight off tedium.

I tell my traveling sister about K new posting. “Do you think we will end up like him? Unable to mate, always jonesing for the road, chasing the horizon for that something? Living for those goose bump moments?” She looks at me incredulously, “We already are. Do you not see that?”

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