Gravity Or Something Like It
People treat you differently when they find out your leaving the country indefinitely. Some now have reason to make contact where before there was none. You were gonna be a fixture of their life forever and that’s boring. You were not of interest then. Now you are! It’s as if you have an expiration date. You’re a value, a bargain, a real steal. It’s a metaphor for life. We think we have years and years to do the things we want until we learn that we don’t. Come to think of it, we do have expiration dates. We just don’t know them. Although I can usually tell shortly after meeting someone if they’ve expired or not. Then there are those who are careful to keep their distance from you. After all, you’re just a visitor now, a tourist. As if they’re made of such giving and loving material that getting to know you better in what little time you have would only break their fragile hearts. They couldn’t bear it. Or perhaps you’re to be avoided out of a sense of patriotism. You’ve turned you’re back on your homeland so now you can go fuck yourself, amen.
My first experience spending any kind of significant time away from home was summer camp. I was nine or ten the first year I went and I handled it poorly. In fact I bawled like a sissy … in front of everyone. It hit me like an ambulance wreck one evening in an auditorium where all the campers were gathered for some speech to be delivered by some important someone or other. The popular assumption was that I was homesick but looking back I think it would be more accurately described as an anxiety attack. Homesickness seems to suggest that I was simply outside of my boyhood comfort zone. This was more like an intense, overwhelming electric need to be anywhere but in that room, at that time, with those people. It was so incredibly overpowering that I couldn’t even recognize my behavior as embarrassing at the time. No, that came later. With the lights up and the room full, I just … came helplessly unraveled without a shred of self-awareness. Eventually, time passed, the room didn’t swallow me whole and, contrary to my fears at the time, my spine didn’t explode out the back of my body. The hurdle had been cleared and the rest of my stay was without high, psychological drama. Until the following year when it happened again. And I think again the year after that. I don’t know if what I experienced was normal. I don’t remember anyone else publicly humiliating themselves by throwing an annual crying fit at summer camp … and believe me, I’d have welcomed the company.
As I got older I outgrew my neurotic bitch-fit, but not entirely. Well, I outgrew the crying and the flailing of arms and gnashing of teeth anyways. There are still moments well into adulthood, however, when I can remember being afflicted with that same panicky sensation of helplessness, that sense of impending doom far beyond my control or the control of anyone else on the planet for that matter. It’s the kind of anxiety I can only imagine being warranted by a visit from God himself delivering the news that gravity will any minute now just slowly release its hold on you, me and everything else until we’re all floating on an endless and aimless course off the surface of the earth and out into nothingness forever. Or, you know, something equally as frightening as that. I began to realize that these attacks seemed to arise from situations where I found myself almost completely without comfort or crutch. There was more than one occurrence in Army basic training. It took a long time but I also realized that by weathering this emasculating storm and the scenarios that birthed it I developed a greater sense of confidence in my abilities to overcome adversity. I don’t believe that’s something you can give or teach a person and I’m so grateful that my parents didn’t try to protect me from this as a child by not allowing me to attend camp. Either of them could’ve easily said, “No, you’re not going back this year because you’ll only hurt your pussy and we’re tired of hearing about it.”
Weird to think that same homesick brat is traveling to the other side of the world to take a job with an employer he’s never met at a workplace he’s never visited, in a profession he has no experience in. Jesus, I hope this isn’t a scam.