Last night, I leant against a wooden telephone pole several streets from my grandmother’s home. I watched a plume of heavy smoke drift into the night sky from the foot of a nearby hill, carrying the light of the street lamps up with it and revealing the field of transmission towers that stood between us in its brilliant luminescence. I hadn’t seen a fire in a long time and my eyes searched, perhaps hungrier than they should’ve been, for the hint of a flame poking out between the houses. I never found one, but a firework went off above it all, and I wondered about that for a moment before I realised where I was and what it was all about. It was soon followed by another, and then another, and I pushed myself upright and stuffed my hands into my pockets. Conceding to the fact that the glimpse of a tiny bonfire was a poor replacement for the old wildfire that I really wanted to see, I carried on. Novo Amor sang out through my headphones. It was the third time yesterday that I’d aimlessly wandered around this neighbourhood.
I leave in 24 hours. I lasted five years and twelve days. I’ve been writing this out for over a week now, but I’ve struggled to maintain a consistent vibe because I’ve struggled to maintain a consistent feeling in my chest, oscillating constantly from one extreme to the other. I wanted to write about everything that I’d learned in the last five years, but last night, gazing out at the smoke and the pylons and the poorly executed light show, I realised that everything I’d learned was just a different rendering of the same exact lesson, and this is it: The only thing worth giving a damn about in this world are the folks in it, and absolutely nothing else. Nothing else at all.
But again, as ever, I can’t reconcile the love for my friends with the need to seek out my ever-unattainable original landscape. And what do I say here? Do I need to leave because my parents accidentally gave me the beautiful gift of placelessness as a child, or do I need to leave because I grew up around lanky adolescents who talked about nothing but the Kerouacian dream? Do I need to leave because I can’t commit to anything for an extended period of time, or can I not commit because I still believe in the deepest part of my soul that the original landscape actually exists? You can’t build anything on unstable ground after all, but I was taught to always be wary of earthquakes and there is nothing more exhilarating than dashing out through the door when one hits.
Is this all in my head? Most definitely. And am I sorry? Most desperately, but also not at all. My mother always tells me that I would find a way to settle if I really wanted to, but I have found no way. And truth be told, I haven’t even looked.
My shoulders have grown broad and hair has sprouted up on my cheeks since I’ve been here, and everyone likes to tell me all about how much I’ve changed. But I am ever the scrawny seventeen year-old with sun-bleached brown hair and a battered old copy of L’etranger in my pocket. But listen, something significant has changed in me, and I no longer hold my friends at arm’s length, and I would travel the world over with any one of them if only they’d come with me. And I blame not one of them for staying put, because this place is endlessly beautiful.
I’m always hyper-aware and often times embarrassed that, whenever I sit down to write something here, every word that drops down from my fingers is tainted with pseudo-poetic bullshit, but I lack the means (read: the guts) to be direct about anything. So let me be explicit, let me be absolutely clear for just once: I am sad as hell to be leaving but I am happy as hell to be going, and this is the most wholesome feeling that I’ve ever known.
My palms have only just healed over from the first swing of the bat, but they itch now for another hit and I’m almost certain that they’ll never again sting like they did all those years ago. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to step down from the plate, I wonder if I’ll ever want to; and I can’t stop thinking about all the people who dragged me up there in the first place, the people who handed me the bat without even knowing it, the people who lightheartedly slapped me on the back as I clenched my teeth and willed my arms to stop shaking. If only I could express to them what it meant to me. Thanks ma, thanks pops, thanks Jamie, thanks Kim, and so on and on and on.
Scotland feels one million miles away, and the hilarity of that thought cannot be overstated. When I left Reno, I left Reno. I surrendered every right I had to abode there and cannot go back. I know that I’ll always be welcome here, but with the sharpest taste of irony in mouth, this action feels absolute in a way that that one never did. I’ve learned what happens when you can’t find your way but don’t turn around and run home, and it is nothing short of limitlessly glorious.
What do I say here?
I love you, I’ll miss you, I’ll see you soon.