You were feeling like an unpaired electron.
You could have sat there on the couch, miserable. Could have stared at your feet and watched little tear droplets dampen the rug between them. You could have hate-hate-hated on yourself.
But you didn’t. You got up, dusted yourself off, and went to work. You kept busy. You medicated with people. You flew ’round the city and met with every person who had successfully managed to snag your attention, if only for a moment. Why not? You had nothing but time.
Every day, a new face. A new date. A new location. A new conversation. Then the faces and locations began to repeat. So did the words. They shot out of you like shrapnel. The faces braced against them, defensive yet curious. You sliced through time wild. Careless. Meaningless. The people were kind and inconsequential. You could take them or leave them; it remained up to them to take you.
“You are the attraction of the day,” Levi said to you the first day you met him in Sophia, Bulgaria. Levi comes up a lot. He’s the kind of person you never forget. He’s invincible. You, weak, wounded, lonesome, found yourself stepping into the blow of his words. Attraction of the day. Were you so meaningless to him? Who says that to a person?
Now here you are, doing very much the same. You squeeze people into your life because they are mere attractions, distractions. How does it make them feel to know that they are not the first, the second, or even the third date that week—but in fact the eighth or the ninth? Do they feel devalued by dilution? Do they feel cherished, important?
Probably not. You sure as hell didn’t, and yet you and Levi are still friends, years later—distant, coquettish, and connected through travel. Unfortunately you can’t join him in Colombia.
Nope. You’re far too busy for that. Busy flying around like an unpaired electron, causing free radical damage. You hope all those people you met don’t sustain any of it.
* * *
Time feels like a current dragging you downstream. You gasp at first and must tread water patiently. You know you cannot fight it. But you tire yourself in waiting for what lies beyond the bend. You cannot tell if you are calm or on the verge of panic. So hands and feet paddle gently, with an occasional frantic thrashing.
You look around for the buoy and see one. But there’s no line to fasten you.
* * *
When you were paragliding in Goa, you felt sick. There you were, up up up in the air and staring down at the little people on the sand, dark like cigarette butts. Your guts flipped.
You can feel the freedom of weightlessness and it makes you sick.
You often think of your airy ways. How fast and fluid everything feels. How impulsive. How silly. But there always remained the risk of flying away. You look for someone to grab you by your ankles and tug you back to earth. To admonish you. To weigh down on you with their concern. And because you are obstinate and rebellious, you do everything in your power to drive them away, kick free of their grasp. Run, run, run away—but always looking back.
It isn’t quite the same. A light pinch at the hem of your trousers is all it takes. A gentle pull into a soft landing. What is this place? The terrain is foreign yet familiar. Like a place you’ve already been, but have forgotten in the din of a drive-by life. It’s serene. It feels like downy duvets, gentle fog, and crisp morning air. It feels smooth like ice. Clean and compartmentalized. Flawless in design.
You begin to hibernate.