Lisa is a woman who decided to quit her job to travel the world. She comes from New Jersey, just like I do, and has her very own travel web site, like I do. When I was in Poland, I found her site and sent her an email to introduce myself. We emailed back and forth a few times, swapping stories, and then I never heard from her again.
Until this week. Lisa emailed me to tell me she was in New York and asked if I wanted to meet up with her.
My first reaction to her email was: that's weird, meeting a total stranger. And that is when it dawned on me: I am no longer in traveler mode. I used to meet up with strangers all of the time in Europe. I'm stuck once again with my old New York City mode. And that made me feel bad. And so I wrote her back and told her, of course, I would love to meet you. Suck it, New York City mode.
Since Dan had a work meeting on Valentine's Day and we decided to postpone our annual Vday dinner for the weekend, I suggested to Lisa we meet tonight at my favorite haunt in my old neighborhood, Divine Bar. We had a nice dinner together and talked about traveling and writing. While she is back in America, she is still traveling--lingering in New York for now, making a pit stop in her current hometown in Chicago before venturing off to Los Angeles. Her trip has no end in sight, and I can see she is fighting to keep it alive, reluctant to go back to her "normal" life. She told me that traveling felt "normal" to her now.
I am still struggling trying to adapt to "normal" life. I want the traveler's "normal" but I am going more mainstream: the nine-to-six working day, the commute, the cooking, the cleaning, the work-outs, the television. Concerns about money and health insurance have replaced concerns about what country I will be heading next week.
This morning, as I rode the subway the work, a young punky boy, with blue hair, a leather jacket, a black eye and scars all over his face hopped on the train.
"It's no joke," he called out in the library-quiet subway car. "I'm broke." In typical New York fashion, everyone ignored him and continued reading their newspapers.
He then knelt down and played a really good song on the guitar. I did not recognize it, but it really rocked and when he finished, someone even clapped. And for a moment, I envied him. Here's this guy just living his life on the edge and just going day by day and playing his guitar. And I loved the fact that this guy who probably was up all night getting into fights was playing on the subway at 8:45 am to a bunch of working farts like me. He walked passed me and looked straight at me and I saw he looked like a messed up kid--probably going to spend the money he got from some of the fellow passengers on booze or drugs or some other crap. I didn't really want to trade places with him. But I could tell he was a good person. He carried an essence about him that I recognized as pure and it reminded me of being a traveler and of being free to do what you want to do.
I need to find that piece of mind once again. Without being a beat up punky kid.
I made Dan homemade cupcakes for Valentine's Day. He didn't complain.