3 - What Hath I Wrought?
The future is now. The past is gone. Dive headfirst and curse the dawn.
by The Nostomaniac
WHAT THE HELL WAS I DOING? At the time I was too excited to let rationality intercede. You’d think being trapped in the fuselage for the better part of two days might lead to circumspection. Nope. That comes now, years later. Between giddy anticipation and the ice cream sandwiches served on Singapore Airlines, there was little room for gloom.
No plan, Stan. None. My “no plan” plan went beyond my existential furlough; it also applied to el futuro. I wasn’t thinking “future.” I was thinking “now.” And after all the gallivanting?
No clue. None. Didn’t know. Didn’t care.
My inner conspirator reassured me, Dude, you’ll figure shit out. Meet a few natives. Tumble in the jungle. A little bit of this, a little bit of that and, Presto!, you’ve found yourself. Look! There I am!
Job offers trickled in for months after my departure from Iraq. War is big business. Government contractors needed bodies, especially bodies with TS/SCI (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearances. I had one of those, a consequence of my Army enlistment. Call it a resume builder, prized for its own sake. In my experience, it didn’t seem to matter who it was attached to. Morons and mother fuckers? Come on down! A good ole TS/SCI brings with it a measure of job security.
I didn’t just turn down offers. Nothing half-assed here. I let my clearance lapse. Without an employer, there’s no one to pay for renewal. Best way to cut the cord. I saw myself wasting away in a nondescript cubicle somewhere in the bowels of government bureaucracy. A decent home. Respectable health insurance. Two weeks off a year…Fuck it. Fuck it all. I had enough dough to live for years. Plenty of time to figure it all out…later. Much later. Wanna paint thyself into a corner? Blow a hole in your resume wide enough to fly a 747 through. Annnnd…check.
Nothing like being haunted by the ghosts of decisions past. I’m now living in the “much later.” So, what would I do differently? Mmmm, tough to say even with hindsight goggles. A better contingency plan? Probably. I thought painting myself into a corner would force a reckoning. Maybe it did, just not the one I was hoping for. I thought I might find an answer, a calling somewhere out there. The thing is, somewhere “out there” is really just “right here” when the dust settles. Can’t escape yourself forever. You’ll always catch up.
No matter where you go there you are.
Ain’t that the truth. I returned home with enough money to kick-start a life somewhere though I had no idea where that would be. Reality would intervene. Should’ve seen what was coming. In the words of Richard Marx, “Should’ve known better.”
I was blinded by wanderlust, some might say delusional. There was no getting through. I’ve paid for this trip. Paid dearly. And yet, when I look back, when I read my journal, when I see the photos…What do I think? What do I think, indeed. It’s hard to regret. Still, I do my best. To experience the planet like that, one culture after another?…Magnificent. Conceptually, it binds our domain in a way only someone who’s spent time nation-hopping can comprehend. The world makes perfect sense and is simultaneously in-de-fucking-cipherable. We humans spend so much time embroiled in all this shit that matters not. Not to us. Not to them. Not to me. Not to anyone. It is such a valuable perspective. Men much wiser than I have gained it without ever leaving the country. I needed visual aids.
It made me who I am, for better or worse. I wanted to be free and convinced myself I was…for a time. Are we ever really free? Drugs, food, sex, gambling, Candy Crush. What’s your addiction? Mine was/is world travel. Or is it novel experiences? Or something else entirely? Whatever it is, it propelled me through the ether.
What follows is my distorted vision quest. Though it often feels so, I know I am not alone. There are others. Out there. There’s probably an invisible nation of us. Invisible to others, maybe even invisible to each other, to ourselves. We can’t all be wild success stories. We can’t all be somebody. The world is peopled with nobodies. Nobodies are the foundation. Without the lost souls, how would anybody else find themselves? I’ll provide the contrast. That’s my gift.
In the end, we all fade to oblivion. The universe is patient. But, for now, on to Indonesia. So, Selamet datang!…bitches.