Location: Country Inn, Poway CA
Yep, you read that right. Six Months. My own sense of time has gotten so warped that I have no idea how long ago it was that I was in any particular place. Tahoe seems recent, Calgary impossibly distant.
A while back Jojo asked me how the trip had changed me. I wasn’t able at the time to give her a good answer. Honestly, I don’t know that the trip has changed me much at all. I’ve had more experience at being alone, at walking into a place where I don’t know anyone. Perhaps I’m better at striking up a conversation with a stranger – those of you reading this probably get the idea that I do it all the time – but in fact with the possible exception of bartenders I’ve failed more often than I’ve succeeded.
One change that is possibly measurable is that I value peace in my surroundings more than I did. Not the library peace-and-quiet atmosphere, but one free from anger. When I am around people who are needling each other it’s like a hot poker in my brain. I’m sure I was better at tolerating that stuff before. Now when people are bugging each other I just want the hell out of there. Not sure how this came to pass, but I think out there on the highway somewhere I lost some mental calluses that had built up over the years.
Although there are many friends here in town that would have happily put me up for the night, tonight I chose to stay in a hotel. There are days when I just need a space that is mine. Rented rather than borrowed. A place that does not put me in a situation of psychic debt, a place where I am not an intruder, however welcome, in someone else’s space. Amy, of all my hosts, has been the easiest to intrude on, since she isn’t in the least inclined to tiptoe around me. She’s got her life going on and some guy on the sofa isn’t going to get in her way. It’s like writing in a bar. Life moves around me, and pays me no heed.
This isn’t the first time I’ve taken a hotel room to have my own place for a few hours, but lately I’ve understood better why I’m doing it. As I came through the door this evening and looked at my haven I felt like there should be some ritual I perform, some gesture to the gods to consecrate this place, however temporarily. I stood there like a dork for a few seconds and completely failed to come up with the appropriate gesture. Finally I hung the “do not disturb” sign on the outside door handle. Not really the poetic/creative modern witchcraft I was looking for, but it is a symbolism that is widely recognized.
I said above that this life is getting old, and that certainly is true. However, if I could find someone to pay me to keep doing this, you know I would. This morning I think Amy felt the change in me. She saw the one-foot-out-the-door Jerry. Getting back on the road is becoming a need again. And maybe that’s the change Jojo was looking for.