Thursday, January 15, 2009

Where is my hiking hat?

“. . . no matter where you go, there you are.” – from Buckaroo Bonzai

So now, in a couple of weeks I have to move back to the snowy Midwest to finish my thesis. I’m pretty sure that I will never have a regular home. Everywhere I live is only temporary. I seem to belong nowhere. I wish I had a yurt. Yet it’s always been this way - even growing up. And even though I’ve changed careers, I am still a nomad – a mercenary - of sorts. I have grown accustomed to, and even have a preference for, sleeping on couches. I am careful not to get too comfortable in any one place.

When I count all the times I was on the road as a musician, it totals out to 54 months. That’s four and a half years of living out of suitcases. And in between those tours and traveling I kept everything in boxes. Mostly books. I love books. It was the same in college too. I’ve been to five colleges. And it was the same in marriages and divorces and with girlfriends and fiancées. I’d rather not count all those up. And nothing has changed today except that I keep less and less stuff each time. Fewer things and fewer relationships. Fewer and fewer attachments every year. I am an atheist caught up in a Zen parable. I am careful not to unpack too many things.

I’m always a little sad to go but I’m not complaining because I love traveling too. I really like living in new places or finding new challenges. Actually, I just can’t see myself any other way. I loved being on the road when I played music and remember the other musicians that hated it. I loved being in Guam and digging holes in the impossibly hard ground of that coral rock island to plant a bunch of coconut trees. Antigua was a small adventure too - especially where the streets had no names but could be identified by each unique pack of stray dogs that diligently patrolled them. I once lived on a sailboat in southern Florida where I speared red crabs or blue fish for breakfast and watched glowing yellow creatures swim through the water at night. I traveled to the restaurants of Shimonoseki in Japan to eat as much fugu (puffer fish) as I could possibly find. Later I wandered the quieter streets of Hachioji and then through the towering glass elegance of Tokyo as the summer heat gnawed on my skin and I remember listening to the incredible feast of amazing sounds in the train stations and other buildings. I wanted to stay in Japan forever with all those cool people, mechanical melodies, and endless rainy days.

So where will I finish this chaotic journey I wonder? Where will I be when I watch my last rain fall? But most importantly, who will I be - when I draw my last breath?

- Just a peasant

Photo: I found my hat. Time to go.