This will be the last of these notebooks. With #1 I consecrated a new period of life without realizing what I was doing, and now these journals contain almost 9 months of ink. More on this here.
Every section of my life has been so clean. Yeah, there has been chaos between the boundaries, but for each new semester of school, each summer, each trip, there has always been a designated beginning and end. But these past months of triumphs and failures, questions of purpose and home and writing and self, joy and loss, this has been a messy, ragged haphazard agglomeration of experiences, and I’m ready for this chunk of time to be over. So I have started Notebook #6: Human.
I don’t know yet exactly what this means. But 100 pages from now, something will change. I’ve still been waiting for the answers to find me, I’ve been traveling in acknowledgment of the truth that I cannot plan my path anyway, I’ve been filling notebooks and desperately searching for meaning in my words. I do not know where I will be 100 pages from now. Will I stop moving or will I continue to travel? Will I keep writing or will I lay down the pen for a while? The time has come for me to stop seeking perfect answers and instead to just make some imperfect choice and learn how to live with it. Human.
My only guideline for this final notebook, #6 of 6, is to express my humanness. Old journals looked like this:
Notebook #6 begins like this:
I’ve spent ten days in Austin, Texas—more time here than any other city in the past three months. I visit a dozen different locally owned coffee houses, meet musicians and artists on the street, eat Torchy’s Tacos and Homeslice Pizza, and write a new spoken word piece. One morning I wake up with a head way too full of thoughts for the early hours and I remember that I do not know where I belong in this world, and I take off driving until I find the spot by the lake under the overpass, where the stone crumbles into the waters and pigeons flash past the concrete columns. I feel safe hidden below among the urban waste, standing in the rocky dust beside the water where the gray sky above me is obscured by the interstate bridge.
Cage comes to stay, and when he and Melissa return from work, I cook pineapple chicken or fried rice or pasta. The three of us relax in the evenings, drinking Jarritos and lying on the floor watching The Office while Siska climbs all over us, her tail wagging with a fury.
The temperature drops dozens of degrees overnight. It was in the 70’s, and now it’s cold enough to snow. After dinner, we build a fire. Melissa sits on the carpet searching Craigslist for jobs, I write, and Cage starts to clear the dishes. I’m hit with a sudden moment of feeling like I’m home. When they sleep, I sit alone by the fire, a frigid draft whipping down the chimney and roaring into the fireplace. I sit, flames consuming wood, the page flickering in the firelight as I write. My pen glinting and my ink, dancing. When I’m done for the night, after I’ve put my soul onto the page, I leave the notebook a little bit too close to the fireplace, hoping that a popping ember might leap from the hearth and burn the whole thing to ashes.
Flipnotics, Jo’s, Bennu, Lola Savanna, Fair Bean, Flightpath, Progress Coffee, Bouldin Creek,.Once Over Coffee Bar, Ruta Maya. Why coffee shops? Why a shop? Why the beverage coffee? Why a roomful of tables and chairs and ambience and strangers? Sometimes it makes me so sad, this fleeting community we form; I am a part of something right now, we all are, each individual in this café who has dreams and pain and love and secrets I will never know, if there is anywhere I belong, it’s here in this café; I belong as much as each of these people do, this is our place right now, but it will all fall apart as quickly as it formed, these dozen or two people will never be together again, how can we bear the sadness of this! How can I just write or work or read, knowing that we will fall apart, this family of strangers joined through our proximity, united by a common caffeinated appreciation? I wish I could talk to them all as if they were old friends. Where’d you get that scarf? I would ask her. What are you writing about? He would say to me. Can I taste your frappuccino? Check out this song I just discovered. I wish we could share without the eons of formalities and justificatory explanations for our communication. If only I could just bear my soul, and what if they would all let me love them? Instead I sit alone, smiling and making small talk but writing about this secret longing of mine here, because if I bear my soul to you then you will have no choice but to love me.
On facebook I see a friend’s status saying she is having a tough week and would appreciate words of love and encouragement. How beautiful, I think. In this world of hardened hearts and shallow daily interaction, there is something so beautiful and human about simply asking for love. I was reading through the comments, preparing to leave one, halfway down she had posted: sorry guys, that status was written by so and so, I apologize. As if it was so terrible and inappropriate.
Today I begin to write a list of things that make me feel human.
One of which is goodbyes. After I part with Melissa I return to the spot under the overpass. I spend a moment thinking about all of the people who have come into my life and passed out again; some slipping gently, others crashing, the pigeons flash past, and after ten days of living in one city, I hit the road.