You know that feeling when you wake up and for a second you don’t know where you are? Has it ever happened to you when you’re awake in broad daylight?
I’m in the passenger seat driving through windy roads in the Adirondacks and the corridor starts to narrow until there are no shoulders. Suddenly it reminds me of hometown Rhode Island, the way the leafy greens bend inward, a canopy of shade.
Two years ago my dad told me that in life, you never arrive. That’s a bold thing to tell an optimistic college girl. His point was there will always be challenges to face and work to do. When I told it to my good friend Jake, he said, “Or are you always arriving?”
So as the car speeds around tight blind turns, with every lean I am arriving. Arriving around the corner where in a split second I could hit something and be dead, or, there’d be nothing and I’d keep driving. Growing bubbles of suspense repeatedly bursting.
The road is so familiar that I forget I’m not sixteen and the boy driving isn’t someone my parents disapprove of. They probably wouldn’t approve if they saw, but I’m old enough now that most things go unseen and unsaid.
I’m not sixteen, the boy is bearded. I am the female version of him, or he’s the male version of me – an inside joke – because we both wear black bandannas and aviator sun- glasses and thrift shop sweaters and ladies jeans and flannel tops and a trucker hat with a pine tree on it. We both studied social sciences that made us ‘hate’ society so we ran away to the woods. We can’t help but subtly loath people who seem sheltered to a fault and refuse to try new foods. We both read Durkheim and Foucault and believe that, despite what the majority says, Freud wasn’t a bunch of bull-shit. He knew some shit.
We’re driving and turning and always arriving. My mind starts to drift and fade like it’s going to sleep and suddenly I’m in Rhode Island with a boy I don’t really know or have always known (have you ever deeply connected with a stranger and then mentally stepped outside the moment to realize you have no idea who they actually are?) Like in a dream, you might recognize the person and the place, but together they make distortion.
Then I snap back to the slippery slope of reality. What it means to have solid footing or not. The boy is real; on his chest are oval scars from a lighter but I don’t know how they got there. I am driving through the Adirondacks afraid we might hit a deer around every corner. Crosby Stills & Nash in the background remind me of my father.
I didn’t sleep a lot this week because my crew and I have too much fun staying up late. But the 6:30 AM alarm comes too fast, leaving behind the rusty residue of sleep deprivation.
Yesterday evening I went down to the lake and sat on the dock. My mind foggy. The camp was quiet and I didn’t know where anyone was. It didn’t matter. I stared off into the sunset on the water and thought about my life. School and home and everyone I once knew seemed like a different world, like the Adirondacks is some sort of purgatory in the best way possible (is there such a thing as blissful purgatory?)
I can’t think about being anywhere but here. There is no other current truth or reality – not to get all philosophical, but I’m assuming if you’re bored then you would have stopped reading by now.
So I laid down on the dock and felt my eyes close. Next thing I knew I woke up, some ten hours later, and knew exactly where I was. The sun was rising. I went back to the cabin, climbed into my bed, and slept more.
Maybe the reason for little sleep had nothing to do with external stimulants. It was within myself, an unmade decision that gnawed at my subconscious. Yesterday the stirring settled at least for now as I decided to be here, alone, with no burdening question of who I want to be or where I want to go beyond this in-between. This sensational pit-stop in life. It’s odd to find comfort in the between.