Tales of a 21st Century Gypsy

February 12. On the plane.

Flying is limbo. Waiting in the dark for time to pass, with a choice of sleep Ė total unconsciousness Ė or movies Ė waking unconsciousness Ė or actually experiencing the time as it goes by. Itís a liminal state, slowly turning the mind from the people and blazing sun of Cape Town, from parks and wildlife and writing reports, from giving presentations and conducting dozens of interviews, slowly turning it around to Virginia, winter, the van, Susanna, Suzanne, Ma, finishing the book, organizing the logistics of going on the road.

I couldnít write at the beginning of this flight. I read for a while, then went through two movies straight, then put my head under the blankets and stretched out to sleep. Or to send my mind off into that world of thought and daydream that is as good as sleep on a long flight. I didnít want to turn one hundred and eighty degrees, and halfway around the world, to the next stage. Writing would make me open the box in my mind that holds the details of the next few weeks, instead of traveling with that locked chest holding the future inside.

I know so many people whom I like in far-flung places. Itís hard to keep them in my life in a conscious way. How to hold onto Mark in Canada and Sharon and Donald in New Brunswick and Lillian and Harry in Monroe and Cris in Chapel Hill and others whom Iíve already let slip Ė Darren and Brian and Nick, kayakers from different places. And lots more. Especially when I so much want my solitude. Now that Iím letting my mind circle around to the next step instead of holding onto the last one, it will be okay. Iíll be glad to see Susanna and Erzebet and Bonnie and the neighbors, to run into Joan at the farmersí market, have coffee with Rick, and breakfast with Beth and Steve. I wonít lose the past five weeks by moving on to the next stage, it can all fit in.

Almost back Ė sitting on the last flight. Returning feels flat Ė flet, as the South Africans would say. Itís raining in Atlanta. I wish I were returning to be alone, not in a house full of people. I wish I could pick up Matilda at the airport and drive away. A while ago I worried that returning from overseas to a van instead of a house would feel bad, but it would be wonderful right now.

Continue to the next entry. Return home.