So I saw this movie last night. It's not that great. It's entirely mediocre, actually, which is maybe why it reminds me of me (see how second-rate I am; I make cheap shots at myself). I'd been in the same clothes for around 36 hours when I wrote the draft to this blog, just to let you know where my head was at, so please don't judge me for the weird stuff I write next. I'll start at the end.
The end to which I refer is the end of new places. When I left Ottawa (which, to recap, was perfectly fine. I liked the museums and I ate in a bakery that Barack Obama once- literally, once- frequented), I had officially ended the "unknown" portion of my trip. I headed back to Peterborough to hang with two very wonderful Canadian gals who, between them, fed me well; took me rummage-saling; provided me with Glee; took me out non-drinking (I dunno why but it looks like my sobriety is back); convinced me to climb a tree for the first time in, I reckon, a decade; brainstormed about my future career with far more imagination than I could bring to the task; and took several pictures of me smiling at the camera. It was a great weekend that felt fresh and familiar all at once.
On Sunday I ended up in Toronto with K which was a really relieving experience. The travel exhaustion that landed me back in Ontario really helped me with visiting these two very positive influences on my recent life when previously I had been worried that I would barely ever- or never- see them again. K showed me around her old college and we walked and chatted or had coffee and chatted or sat in a park and chatted. Or all of the above. I got around four hours of K-time. I think I needed it, needed those hours to feel okay about my self-imposed week of solitude.
The 12-hour bus ride was therapeutic in some ways. I mean, I was miserable but I knew what I was in for this time and I could just focus on the fact that it'll be my last bus ride for a while. There was a whole gang of foreign exchange students from a university in Peterborough on board-which was a little eerie- and one was from Australia. He commented on my "Canadian-Australian" accent that was "so cool". You know, he's the first one to think so.
A lot of things in New York feel the same and a lot feel different. Last time, when I arrived, I felt the weight of possibility and expectation, and, simultaneously, the conflicting effervescence of excitement. This time I'm calm. I want for nothing from this city, I just want to exist in it. Today all I did was re-visit spots that I or we saw last time. Central Park, bookshops, the Lower East Side. I had an epiphany while semi-sleeping in the park; last time I was in the middle of everything. Now I'm in the middle of nothing. It's all about where my head's at and right now it's still. There's so much in there but it's locked into place for a little while, frozen by fatigue and the knowledge that I'm in a city that can make even the way I think seem ordered and acceptable. I'm carrying a lot of books with me and my hostel is right by the park. I could spend my week reading my life away. But that damn movie has me reconsidering whether I want to do absolutely nothing this week.
I was talking to a good friend the other day when I told her- she was the first one I've admitted this to, actually- that I have a "Hope List" for when I come home. Just some stuff I'm looking forward to; simple concept but really comforting at times or mildly intimidating at others. And in the film I saw last night, this kid basically had the same thing. That really hit me because I feel... powerless, compared with this character. Fictional character. Who seemingly is putting his plans into action with the people around him while I'm alone and weirdly introspective in New York. There were other things that also shocked me by how much they... shocked me. Considering how, well, not-great the movie is. One guy just loses it at one point, physicalises everything he is going through and starts throwing stuff around and screaming. Another guy draws and paints away his crazy. I wish I could do either. But even when I'm subdued and internally working on my issues, they feel so much bigger than I can ever express or banish. I have brief moments of being completely overcome and others of knowing they'll always be in the background. Not centre stage, thankfully, but ever-partially-there.
For now, I focus on my week in New York that may need its own Hope List. But for now, I'll leave you with an abridged list for when I come home.
My Hope List
1. Sleep in my own bed.
2. Bake in my own kitchen.
3. Make a scrapbook of my journey.
4. Go bike riding around Melbourne.
5. Visit all of my city's markets.
6. Start attending a yoga class.
7. Write more often and with more discipline.
8. Watch an entire TV series on DVD over a week or weekend (depending on length of series, of course).
9. Plant a small garden.
10. Swim more.
11. Get contacts and grow my hair out.
12. Go for more walks.
13. Drink lots of tea out of big mugs while sitting with beloved people.
14. Decide what I want to study next year (second language? Anthro? Lit? Writing?).
15. Go to New Zealand.
16. Go on day trips to other parts of Victoria.
17. Give more random gifts to people.
18. Clear out all of my unwanted things. My backpack is an example of how this can be done.
19. See more live music.
20. Go to events and museums in my city the way I did in so many others.
21. Keep in touch with friends, both those from pre-trip and post.
22. Treat men with more respect.
23. Dance and do social activities without constantly feeling conscious of the reluctant, Daria-esque persona I feel compelled to maintain.
24. See myself as beautiful the way certain people in my life- or transience- have told me to do. See my journey, and journeys, as such.
25. Buy a new pair of sneakers.
It's not a perfect metaphor.