God, I just want to relax.
It’s been 88 days since I had my own space, though even that, it’s been many years since that tiny bedroom in a town I hate felt like my own. And it’s been 388 days since I had my own space.
Not that I’ve counted.
When I was traveling, it was stressful, of course, not knowing where I’d be sleeping, how I’d be getting there, what fucking time zone I was going to be in within the next two or five or ten days, but it was okay. There’s a sort of weight that’s immediately gone when you know you’re going to be leaving a place imminently, never (okay, well, no time soon) to return.
And those endless train rides, as disorienting as they are, also kind of reset me. Being on a train for 30+ hours, there’s nothing you can do but just exist there until it’s over, and I find something deeply calming about that. I like limbo, I suppose, when you’re neither in one place or another, physically or mentally.
Which I suppose isn’t surprising, really, given how much energy I’ve expended in my life to avoid building any sort of life anywhere, living in one city after another just long enough to miss it when I’m gone. Of course I feel at home in the liminal spaces, in which I really don’t exist anywhere but in between.
Here, now, I’m neither one thing nor another — “not fish nor fowl nor good red herring”, neither settled nor transient. My small assortment of friends here have been indescribably wonderful, offering me places to lay my weary head to rest (don’t you cry no more) in various places, making me feel like I’m not completely alone in another new city. But existing in other people’s spaces grows suffocating, quickly, like I’m always trying to erase any sign of me being there at all, to the point that I’m conscious of the sound of my own breathing.
I love hostels because it’s nobody’s space, or everybody’s space. It’s a simple exchange of money for services, and it probably says something about me that I feel like I only have the right to even exist if I have bartered something for it. Though, to be fair — let’s not romanticize my own fuckedupedness too much — I think many people — probably most introverts — feel similarly.
But hostels, of course, do require said money for said services, and my savings are dwindling. I still have several job possibilities up in the air, all of which would pay me enough to live like a person again (for better or for worse), but nothing solid yet. So I’m trying out couchsurfing.com this week, which should be interesting. I think it will be a little less stressful than friendsurfing, because like, they have no friend-obligation to offer me space; they wouldn’t have offered if they didn’t get something from it too.
Hopefully not, like, my kidney.
But the dude I’m staying with for the first night I try it is a fellow bike nerd, which makes me automatically trust him a little bit straight off. And, honestly, everything I hear from people who’ve done it (or know people who’ve done it) has been unequivocally positive. But it’s still a bit unnerving. And am talking to another guy with an actual spare room that apparently just would like company in his house now and then — which, like, as far as I’m concerned he’s an alien for actively seeking not being alone, but whatever.
I feel like I’ve just made myself into a thing for which there is no space in the world, you know? I’m not contributing anything, personally or professionally or even socially; I’m sure as fuck not procreating in vague hope that my genes work out better next time around, and it’s fucking exhausting. I’m so torn between wanting to belong somewhere and wanting to belong nowhere at all.
I wrote this for a dear friend a couple of years ago, one of those people that I’ve only even existed in the same space with for brief moments in the last ~15 years, and don’t often even talk to, but share one of those bone-deep you get it, you understand friendships, and it’s coming back around to apply to me again:
you remind me that we are pieces of picture-puzzles, edges ragged and jagged and frayed;
that we are, maybe, cosmically, all meant to fit into our shape,
but the cosmos did not account for careless hands, did not account for ill winds,
and so our edges are broken, bent back, before we can lock ourselves in place.
now we are thrashing our hands and feet around the keyholes and no one can tell us
why we have the wrong key, why the formulae do not work; why we do not fit into the system.
“i could not be real,” she says, as though she is a failing;
as if it is she, not the universe, who has failed her.
“i could not be real so i was unreal,” an absence in the shape of a girl,
bones and skin describing something missing.
i imagine jigsaw puzzles, pocked with countless holes:
those who have been lost, or have left, or still shiver in the box.
so here we are in the half-life, grasping at a misshapen space,
cardboard crumpling against the external dictations.
“i could not be real so i was unreal & now i know you” —
we watch the puzzle unfold, the whole and unwhole;
we sit in our outlines, impotent, kicking our feet.
I’ll figure it out, I suppose. Or else I won’t, and that’s okay too, in the end. If nothing else, I’ve met some delightful cats.
PS: hire me.