Two weeks from today I leave Milwaukee on a bike with basically no possessions beyond what’s on my bicycle and my back, no firm destination or timeline or clue what the fuck I’m really doing. I am, naturally, utterly unprepared: logistically, emotionally, financially or physically. Of course. I’ve been struggling to articulate the context of it, the hows and wheres and whys.
Many people have, understandably, asked me why I’m doing it, leaving my warm bed, my job I don’t hate (or, more accurately, my job I hate but a boss and coworkers I like very much). Or, I suppose, most people do understand the desire to burn it all down, the visceral pull of wanderlust, but most people are fortunate to have their own families, or careers they’re invested in, people and places and things they have ties or obligations to.
I do not.
I am a (nearly) 33 year old clinically-depressed alcoholic. Because I’m not a complete idiot, I’m fully aware that depression and alcoholism do not exactly complement each other, but they’re both bad enough that each kind of precludes caring enough to attempt to deal with the other. I don’t really have friends outside of work, because the effort of leaving my house and being social is so monumental that I dodge every entreaty to hang out.
I am dying, I am rotting from the inside out, and I am doing it with full understanding and intent.
People worry about how dangerous it is, doing something like this, and I never know how to explain to them how much more deeply, bleakly dangerous it would be for me to stay here, with my warm bed and pays-the-bills job, or to move to yet another random city and start it all over again. I think it is not unlikely I’d be dead in five years and by my own hand, either externally and actively or internally, passively. I type this with a shrug, with clinical detachment.
I know that this trip will not fix me, that I will not eventually end up in some permanent destination, parking my bike with a satisfied sigh, with sudden magical confidence and direction and even ability to sleep. These chinks in my brain are deep, and they are a part of me, and they will never go away, but I am fucking sick of letting them own me.
But if nothing else over the past couple years, I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that the only fulfilling thing I can imagine doing with my life is writing, that the only thing that makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile is when somebody takes a few moments from their life to tell me that something I wrote made their day better than it was. And this happens, now, often. But I’m not going to write anything of substance if I don’t do anything, if I sit here and fester, staring at my dirty white walls, writing sad poetry about my own unhappiness.
So fuck it all, burn it all the fuck down, and here we go.