It is dark, always.
Waking up is a drag. It is dark, always. And cold, so cold. I keep my eyes closed for as long as possible, hoping that it is not 2:30 AM, hoping that maybe, I actually slept. Hoping that maybe, the sun will start to shine through the windows. But it never does. This morning, I stayed in bed until 6:30 AM, a new record. I spent a good thirty minutes pretending to punch the wall and scream, pretending to slash a knife through the air. I felt angry this morning. This is a stark contrast to yesterday morning, when at 3:30 AM, I woke up, crying, unable to stop. The limit of compartmentalizing reached.
So, this morning, I walked up the stairs of my parent’s basement and started to make coffee. I sat down on the couch and looked out the window. It was still dark, but I could see a new glistening layer of white. I walked closer to the window. Snow. More fucking snow. I’ve never liked winter and I keep telling myself I’ve arrived back to the infamous land of the free just in time for spring. But not yet, because there is definitely more snow outside. I check the temperature and see that it is -7 C. ‘Fuck!’, I say to myself, ‘fuck this’.
I try the number I have for my Thai boyfriend, I get a ‘phone network error’ message, again. For the sixth day in a row. I throw a remote to who knows what first world device at the living room wall. The batteries fly out the back. “I should go to a yoga class”, I tell myself. “I really need to be back in a Kali class”, I tell myself. ‘Since when do I throw things?’, I ask myself. ‘Fuck all of this’, I say again. And again.
A week ago, it was only sun. And warmth. Ibogaine sessions were going flawlessly, one after another, and I was finally enjoying the process of giving people this alkaloid. It was 40 C, not -5 or -10, and I was on an island in Thailand, waking up with the sun and the birds and the sway of palm trees. I felt happy. My boyfriend, accustomed to working late, always slept in. He’d fall asleep next to me, a few hours before I would wake up. This never bothered me. It calmed me to lay next to him in the afternoon and listen to his deep breaths. This is all a bit exaggerated, because the truth is, I don’t sleep much at all. But, in Thailand, it wasn’t because I couldn’t sleep, it was because I was busy with work. Now, when I do sleep, I dream of prison cells and the guy I left behind and getting wasted and getting lost and fleeing, I always dream of running away. But it’s all very brief, because trust me, I don’t sleep much anymore.
I’ve spent probably 80% of the last three years out of America. I’ve spent probably 60% of the last ten years out of America. The gaps between trips to America has grown larger and larger over the years. Coming back, while I do like hot showers, isn’t easy.
Everything is so big, and mostly useless. How is it possible that I am in a town of 55,000 people yet there are two Wal-Marts, a Target, K-Mart, and a few Wal-Greens? What is up with plush beds and couches and all of these weird pillows, because to be honest, I don’t remember complaining of back pain when I didn’t have access to these items of so-called luxury. No fucking shit, of course everyone has diabetes and cancer and heart problems, how do people live on this food? Being able to understand the language around myself is always a shock, and it drives me a bit crazy, people talk about the most stupid shit. I feel like I don’t have anything to contribute to any conversation and I certainly don’t want to talk about myself. Why is everything so complicated? I need a contract to get a phone? My favorite news website is blocked. Everything costs more. Obamacare, seriously? There is no one with wisdom hiding behind a corner to offer me some odd plant based concoction when I complain of insomnia or nausea or a lack of energy. Traffic laws, while definitely not a bad thing, are something to get use to. There are actual lanes for cars and rules for speed and there are stop signs everywhere, goddamn everywhere. Complaints about things that people in other countries could never dream of swirl past my ears, my head shaking in disbelief. I then ask myself how long will it take me to start making complaints of the same nature.
I grew up in this country and I feel lucky and fortunate for that. So lucky. Don’t take my observations the wrong way. Having an American passport is a blessing in many ways. I have opportunities and experiences and things I can do just because of where and who I was born to. It’s not fair. I do appreciate where I am from. Which is exactly why I am complaining about being back. Self-hating Americans, people complaining about bullshit, articles on the internet comparing America to third world countries — it’s all such a fucking joke. Are you literate? Do you own a smart phone or laptop? Do you have food on the table? How many pairs of shoes do you own? How many books or records? But more importantly, how long will it take for me to forget to be minimal, simple, and grateful? How long will it take me to lose complete touch with nature? How long will it take me to acquire things I definitely don’t need?
I arrived back to America with a very small backpack. One pair of jeans, one pair of shorts, and a couple of tank tops. One pair of sandals. My laptop. Kindle. Passport. That is it. I had to make a trip to Target when I landed just to buy underwear. I borrowed shoes and warm clothing from my sister. I feel out of place here. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my boyfriend and I feel awful about it every goddamn morning, when I wake up from whatever dream is haunting my subconscious.
I think about running for as long and as far as I can and then decide it is too cold to even change my clothing. I start to do yoga when I wake up and halfway through the primary series, feel strong waves of emotions, and stop, to avoid feeling the weight of what my life has become. To avoid the confirmation that yes, I’m starting over, alone, again.
My manager asks me to send her new bikini polaroids, so I strip down to my underwear, in the middle of winter, and take new photos. Because traveling, and being in front of a camera, are these weird constants in my life that aren’t constant at all. New York City, you’ve been missed (a little), and I’ll be seeing you very soon. Asia, I’ll be back for you, promise.