Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I want to fly and run till it hurts.

It's as good a time as any.

There's a cat that lives at my apartment complex. It doesn't belong to anyone, it just hangs around outside. Even during the winter, it apparently refuses to take refuge in the homes of would-be caretakers. I respect its independence and give it a wide berth. In recent months, I would see neighbor girls trying to feed it or coax it through their doors, and I wondered why they wouldn't just leave it be. It was clearly doing just fine on its own. It sat under the overhang of the apartment stair fa├žade, occasionally scratching on the screen of the window of my bedroom in my basement apartment. It did, but now that it's warmer I don't see it, or hear it.

The other day I was contemplating, as I sometimes do, the extent to which I have not done certain things that I want or intend to do. For example, sometimes I wonder why, at 28 and being Mormon, I find myself insistently single. Why, my mother wants to know, haven't I gotten married? Other times I wonder why I haven't written a book yet. I know a lot of words, and I'm pretty good at putting them together in small groups when talking. Why no book? I wonder why, after ten years of playing, I'm not as good at the guitar as Eric Clapton. Okay well, that one's easy, he made a deal with the ghost of Robert Johnson.

I'm sitting there thinking, and I asked myself why I've never been to Australia. It's a normal question, one which every guy asks himself at one time or another. I tried to figure out what was stopping me. Clearly not familial responsibilities, as I mentioned I'm not married and all my illegitimate children can fly and don't need my help. Not money, not really. I mean, it costs money, but I did some math and figured out that I have more money than it would cost. Not time. I have enough time off saved up. Just. So I decided there was no reason not to go, and lack of obstacles is always a good enough reason to do something. I told my folks I was going to Australia. With who? I dunno. By yourself? Sure. Is that safe? It might be. When? Tomorrow, if I can. (I couldn't).

The next day I informed my co-workers I would be going to Australia within the next couple months, since flights were cheap because the weather sucks. I also told my cousin about it. I lamented the fact that he was married with two children and couldn't accompany me on my spontaneous vagrancy. He was likewise appropriately mournful. So appropriately, in fact, that that night he mentioned it to his wife. The timing couldn't have been better, as his wife was in a very wonderful mood. I imagine she asked a question like, if he weren't married, what would he do? Well, he'd go to Australia with Adam (that's me, I'm Adam). And that was that, and the two of us bought tickets and go in about three weeks.

And suddenly I realized two things: that it's a lot easier not to be married, and that I should get married for precisely that reason. But it's not that I'm hiding from it because it's difficult, no, that's not me. I'm terrified of the prospect of choosing the wrong person. That fear is legitimate because I've dated several of the wrong people and I've seen how quickly emotion twists from exhilaration to disgust and disdain and it's so, so ugly, and I have nightmares of spending eternity with a shapeless, shrieking harridan. That makes the decision difficult, because people can and do change, and often not for the better. Sometimes they don't change at all, they just reveal who they were all along. I'm not phobic about commitment. The thought of being tied down is frightening, sure, but if someone makes you happy then you're not sacrificing anything by doing what's necessary to make them happy and to be with them. And I realize that going to Australia is a poor substitute for the happiness that, I assume, you can feel in sharing yourself completely with someone you love.

But I'm still going.

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