The Not Smashing
It occurred to me that there isn’t one item in my wallet that will be of any use to me upon landing in Korea. Preferred shopper cards to all the local grocery stores, business cards for enterprises not located in South Korea, even my driver’s license is useless to me there. I could easily reinvent myself. Okay, what can’t I change? My name, they have that now, but very little else. Say, for instance, I’ve always wanted to have a nickname. Nothing ever stuck when I was a kid. I was born to a vanilla name that didn’t appear to possess the kind of malleable properties necessary for creative ridicule. I envied the guys with firm, enduring aliases. It immediately suggests that there is at least one interesting thing about you. A nickname says to people, “I’m paid attention to enough by my peers to be given a moniker,” and they always come with some interesting story to validate them. I am now in a position to fabricate for myself a nickname with its very own unique anecdote to lend it credibility. Hi, I’m Troy but my friends call me Primo because I’ve always taken first place in every manly demonstration of prowess I’ve competed in. Or … I could be one of those guys who has a weird nickname that he won’t explain but still insists on going by. My name is Troy but everyone calls me Bandito. Don’t ask! Only two people in the world know the story behind that, and I don’t know you well enough to make you the third. Now I’m a man of mystery, see, spreading intrigue wherever I travel. You can call me Nubs. Just call me Scoots. Call me Tripper. I’m Bucket.
I’m a little disappointed that no one has begged me to stay. Apparently, nobody will fall apart without me here. I don’t imagine there won’t be those who miss me, but not one of them has fallen to their knees, scrabbling at the pavement, wailing at the thought of my absence. Maybe that’s how you know it’s really time to move on. Who would beg you not to leave? Your wife or husband? Don’t have one. Your children? Nope, not that I know of. If I didn’t name them, then they aren’t mine and they certainly don’t need me around failing to meet their expectations every other weekend. The people close to me don’t need me, which is very different from loving me. They want me to go nuts and travel the world. It’s as if they’re saying, “Go, we don’t need you. See if you can find someone who does.” To be fair, I’m very careful to avoid anyone growing reliant upon me. If I sense something like that might be happening, I’ll be sure to disappoint him or her early so as to prevent him or her from making a habit of it. Although, it could be that the reality of my departure hasn’t fully hit this certain someone just yet. I might be in store for a very public airport scene where someone yet unbeknownst to me will elude security to run out onto the runway in an effort to stop my flight so that I can be told just how necessary I really am. But, as I watch this person promptly ushered off to some undisclosed, basement broom closet beneath Pittsburgh International to be swept for explosive devices and waterboarded, I know I would only think: Jesus, who could function within the vice grip of that kind of dependence? Only in a Hollywood movie would someone find that sort of obvious insanity romantic. But, as it stands, no one shatters, I can breathe (and travel free of guilt), and if I die tomorrow my tombstone will read: Here lies Troy J. Craig; completely unnecessary.
There is this one girl. This trip was well on its way to happening by the time we met. It may have been the subject of our first conversation, in fact. It’s not a deal-breaker at that point. You haven’t even had dinner yet. By the time you think about putting on the brakes, it’s already too late.
“I like this. Maybe we should stop seeing each other.”
“I like this. Why would we stop seeing each other?”
“You’re leaving; where can it go?”
“We’re all gonna die eventually; where can any of it go?”
And, the two of you continue with this pointless exercise in futility that makes such perfect sense. I don’t know what happens tomorrow and I wanna try to stop living like I do. I want to fully comprehend the difference between sound preparation for the future, and behaving as if I possess consummate knowledge of what that future holds. I’m in love with this idea of any single moment in life preceding an infinite number of possibilities, an uncountable number of potential outcomes. Damn, that’s exciting! But, I spend so much time convincing myself that I know exactly how this situation or that situation will unfold that I shape my path to meet it. Thus, I turn my glorious, unpredictable journey into a mutinous, self-fulfilling prophecy. Stupid human.
Anyway, you have this thing, and it’s pretty cool, and just because you think you’re probably leaving town on business, it’s no reason to smash this thing into tiny, unrecognizable pieces. I asked before: how then do I better appreciate what’s mine, while it’s mine? Maybe real gratitude lies in the “not smashing” of the thing … that, and a little less attention to what you perceive to be the inevitable outcome. I’ll call it healthy repression. Ignoring periodically that death is waiting in ambush for you and could be lurking around any corner is natural, after all. A thing’s ultimate demise can be forgotten for a time; there is living to be done.
Dude, I will certainly miss you (despite the fact that I dont see you that much here…as you very accurately pointed out on your voice message). I am hanging my hat on the fact that you are going to find something…or at the very least have fun exploring for the something that you have been missing/looking for. I am also guessing that you are going to have all sorts of fun shit to talk about when you get back. Regardless, I wish you nothing but the best and hope you use this opportunity to its fullest extent. I do however take the no nickname thing 🙂 What the eff is Soapboy? Chopped Liver? Anyway my friend…hope to see you before you leave, but if my ankle does not cooperate…safe travels and hope to talk to you soon.
April 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm
You’re the only person who ever called me that, I don’t think that constitutes a nickname. It was kind of you to try, though.
April 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm
I can come up with several nick names for you..Shifty Buckles is awesome!!, cro magnon man, another good one, the list could go on…….feel free to re-invent yourself there as long as my friend Troy comes back I will be happy!!! But you will missed more than you think you will.
April 20, 2010 at 8:07 pm
Not that it was in any way time wasted as I couldn’t start my morning without you, but I don’t think radio was really your calling. Teaching English as a second language to Koreans remains to be seen. I see a career as an accomplished writer in your future! When this blog is published someday as a book, I will be among the first in line to purchase a copy! Good luck to you!
April 21, 2010 at 8:56 am
Touche! By the way, you will always be “Mr. Caterpillar” to me. Good luck my friend.
April 21, 2010 at 11:18 am
I certainly will not scrape my knees on the pavement , begging you to stay,not for you or anyone, but I will miss your insights on how retarded the human race is.Best of luck in Korea.
April 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm
I didnt know u personally but i feel like i did u where a big part of my life to be able to hear someone who says what they think not caring what other people think. it was very refreshing to hear that every morning and in some cases afternoon. if this is something that u feel u need to do then u should. i wish i had the spirt to follow what i always wanted to do but i got stuck in the routine of life and havent been able to get out.. good luck to u troy and always remember that there is a place here for u 🙂
April 21, 2010 at 9:56 pm
what specifically are you “not smashing”??????????????
April 23, 2010 at 8:56 pm
I thought “to smash” was the main objective.
April 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm