Can you come home again?

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Well, I've been home now for a few months, the grey days of an unseasonably warm winter finally giving way to a proper cold season, with the ice a couple of dangerous inches thick on the unshoveled sidewalks.
Decompression from a journey takes some time--at first everyone wants to see you, buy you a beer or dinner or some such, but after a bit of time the novelty fades, and when you're left with only a wispy memory of being somewhere else, you get busy planning your next escape.
I wish I was in Goa.
In the end, you can travel anywhere you want to, but no-one really cares except yourself, but that is really all that matters anyway. As I am fond of saying, "that and a dollar gets you a cup of coffee."

After the initial hubbub dies down, one finds one's self mainly wanting to be left alone for a time, perhaps to hibernate some and wait for the spring. Reflection on what has changed, the reasons for wanting to get out in the first place, and of course the scramble to make some money to get back on one's feet take priority in the early months of return. This means that some people may feel shunned, bills tend to be paid on the absolute last day, social life is somewhat diminished, and things such as blogs have to take a back burner for a time as things get sorted out, mentally, physically, and if you will, spiritually.
I think I timed it well, as it does not seem out of sorts to anyone to keep to yourself in the wintertime, it is too cold/gray/icy to go out much anyway, and there is a kind of New England tradition that goes along with this as well. Of course, on the first day that the mercury rises above say 45F, everyone will be out walking around the streets again, smiling and saying hello.
Perhaps it is just me, but there is something about this particular winter that is a little more like that than others. It started out warm, barely even freezing until a night or two in january, it was cloudy often, yet did not precipitate much, and had a general "blah" feeling all around it. After all, what is winter in Boston without snow? A good dump from the skies brings out all the neighbors to shovel, and gives one something to complain/talk about with each other. The morning after a big snow is a social event, one denied to most of us until March goes out like a lamb, leaving fresh buds on the trees.
The lack of real weather has been a factor in my own, and I believe others' feeling of semi-isolation this year. Everyone is a little crazy in this town this winter, and after a time, brandy or good thick beer no longer takes the edge off. If you're like me, you give up the drinking until such time as your spirits rise in conjunction with the temperature and having a little party is no longer an exercise in medication. Others don't follow this path, and arguments are overheard out at the local, tensions are high, exacerbated by the strong spirits people seem fond of "warming up with" in the doldrums of the season.
Moral of the story: giving things up for "lent" is a good idea, even if you are more of a taoist/existentialist like myself.
Of course, there are those who just have fun all the time, but in this climate they are few an always seem a little haggard as february drags on, their normally charming sense of mirth slightly edgy and their energy somewhat taxed and jaded, like a once colorful hawaiian shirt that has been washed a few too many times.
February can suck the life out of just about anything, though one of the reasons to live here in Massachusetts is the glorious rebirth that makes it all worth it. I'm just waiting for the first crocus--as that hardy little flower opens in march, so do the hearts and faces of the tired folks that have been driven to the edge of sanity by the short days and salty dust of winter. Lucky for me I don't get depressed anymore, just lazy.

So, dear reader, what has changed, you ask?
Physically, here at home in the tangible reality of Boston, well, really not much. At the end of the day it comes down to who got married, died, who was born. A couple of friends are now no longer with us, I miss them, but I understand that the ultimate manifestation of the cycle of life is death. And birth. Four really cute babies were born while I was gone, and I have taken the time to visit with each one, and of course my old friends who have become parents. It's like being an uncle over and over again. Of course, unless there is a woman who can ever put up with me, that's all I'll ever be, so all I will have in the end is travel, and giving back by writing about it. Not too terrible bad, actually.
To go a little to the side for a moment, it is amazing to see the transformation of two people when they create a third (or in one case, a third and fourth--twins!) life between them, part of one, and part of the other. New parents have a special glow about them, a sparkle that you can almost see, a bounce in their step and a lilt in their voice. Too damn bad that that little glow is almost certainly gone or hidden by the time the child turns twelve or thirteen. . .
And who got married? Two sets of couples tied the knot while I was off with Rocinante in my beloved India, a couple of weddings I would not have missed for the world. Well, actually the only reason I missed them was for the World, but hell, we all know that story. Unless of course you're cheating right now and have flipped to the last page.
It is nice to know, however, that life goes on without me, and not too much fell apart without me. Certain things did, but life is more about what you can let go of than what you can hang on to.
I have had to let go of a number of things both before and after my journey, and one of the recent ones was my last leg ticket to London. I just could not afford the return, the last ticket being a one-way, so I guess my further musings upon that great city and my adventures in the English countryside shall have to wait until such time as I can muster the funds to go again. Does not help that the dollar is worth about half a pound, either. I suppose I could have begged or borrowed the money, but I'm almost fully paid up now, and it's a good feeling. Besides, I have to think about going again to India in the early fall, perhaps september, and taking up the kullu villagers on their offer to help make "charras" at the end of the himalayan summer.

What has changed? Perhaps something inside of myself has shifted--I've always been fairly laid-back, at least I think so, but seeing people working, and for that matter, living in sewers, people so impoverished that a loaf of bread looks like a feast and having two eyes that can see is a blessing, still smiling as they scrounge through the rubbish for a bit of half-eaten dosa, I realize that the gift of life is breathing, being able to live at all is the true meaning, there doesn't have to be any other. It is only when we expect or desire something more that we may be disappointed. Heck, life ain't so bad at all. As long as you are existing, anything other than that is a bonus.
For me, it has been reaffirmed and re-confirmed that life is just too short to spend it worrying, being anxious, being mean, or any of the other little ruts that people run in circles in. Drama cannot exist where there is Dharma. I think I have learned to care a little less about what people might think, I can not show or tell them what to feel, and on the same token, have also learned to care a little less about what I myself think in the bargain. Of course, the resulting feeling is just a pure caring, an unconditional love for all that exists--the judgement of good or bad is "conditional," and although we always make these assessments, one should keep a large grain of salt by the bed.

And so, my dears, I bid you a fond farewell for now, I'm going back to dive headlong into the non-routine of my extremely un-mundane life here in the city of rock and roll, and would like to say merci, gracias, danyevad, chukran, danke, shi-shi, arregato, and thank you for tuning in to my blog here on Travelpod. Further thanks to all of you who donated financially, I could not have done it without you, that is sure.

Stay tuned--I plan to, in the early/mid summer to take my enduro motorcycle up into the wilds of the great white north (canada!) and see what I can find there.

I will leave you with some pictures of a recent cross-country drive, a stage shot or two of performances since I have been back, and a shot of my little kitty (Samuel Clemens Cat, known as "Skippers" for short) who was overjoyed to see his daddy home, and sleeps every night with his little kitty arms around me.

Adieu, and may all your travels be without travail, whether they be inner or outer journeys. Love.
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