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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In Motion

Looking over at the couch from the kitchen table, I see Natalia reading a magazine, oblivious to the talk and laughter around her. I am playing cards and before I was talking with my cousin and before that I was playing volleyball and before that I was...trying always to make her feel involved and comfortable, but how comfortable can a girl be after spending four days with thirty some odd members of my family? Especially when she is not always comfortable with the language gap formed when inside jokes and slang pull apart sentences and she does not follow sports or politics (these subjects occupying a good portion of most of the conversations I was involved in, esp. politics - this after answering the usual questions about Taipei and being back in America and what comes next).

I am not sure how many times I apologized to her for putting her in this situation, though it was a situation that would occur eventually given the course of our relationship thus far. Still, four days is a lot (and this, incidentally, also explains the long absence from writing here).

So today we drove 350 miles from Cincinnati to St. Louis, through Kentucky and Indiana, crossing the Ohio River twice and the Mississippi once. We drove past endless seeming corn fields that reminded me of the rice fields that lie between the mountains and the ocean along the east coast of Taiwan. We drove into a town called Santa Clause (and I took a lot of pictures from the car while we were driving, but I missed what might have been the best one, with the Santa Clause Police Force having pulled someone over for speeding along Christmas Road). We drove into a brilliant sky, the sun being dispersed judiciously by a mass of broken white cloud. It felt good to drive (or more accurately, to be a passenger - it was my brother driving). It felt good to be moving. And it is not a coincidence that now I write.

My grandma (my dad's mom) and my Aunt Diane (dad's sister) have both been on me a bit about leaving to travel while Natalia returns alone to Buenos Aires. That I will be there in January does not matter. I am a selfish guy who is off to have fun and to spend money that would better be saved for the future in a selfish and thoughtless way.
"I bet if we took a vote, you would be the only one who thinks that what you are doing is the right thing," Diane said.
"There are others. I bet Roger (her husband) would be all for it."
"Well, ok. He would probably go with you. But besides him. The point is, most people would say you are doing a horrible selfish thing (ok, not her exact words, and perhaps I am letting some personal guilt in the matter amplify her meaning, but it is the general idea).

So yeah, I'm walking away from my girlfriend for about a half a year so that I can go travel by myself in Asia (and I bet if we took a survey, you would be the only one who thinks it is safe to travel by yourself in China - that was the other poll they wanted to take). Do you think that is selfish? I do. Sure I do. Can I offer a justification? Well, yes, although it may not work for you. Sometimes it doesn't even quite work with me, until my instinct jumps up at me and says yes, you must do must move for it is the movement that gets you writing, it is the motion that lets the ideas that have formed find full expression. This is how my books are written, and now after I will stop and study and sell and whatever will happen will happen. Until they are written there is nothing to be sold and there are no new dreams to hold in my hand and imagine in a new and wonderfully packaged form. And how the hell am I suppose to take pictures of China and different parts of Southeast Asia from Argentina?

Sometimes I wonder how many miles I have covered in my life. I'm not talking about the twenty or so miles I probably walk every day just because I can't sit still for more than five minutes. I'm talking about miles on trains and in cars and in buses and on airplanes and on boats and on foot exploring cities that once upon a time were fascinating names jumping off the face of a map. Today was about 350 - probably closer to 375 when you factor in the detour to Santa Clause. I'm talking about miles covered that have taken me to a destination and the miles covered once at the destination in search of reasons for having made it a destination.

So let's say today we did 370, and on Thursday there will be another 350 or so. And then on Friday a whole lot more taking me up just north of Montreal. And there was last Saturday - and I will check on this soon, the whole bunch that brought me home from Taiwan, and then there will be the whole lot more that take me back to Hong Kong in a few weeks.

I think this is something I should figure out. I'm going to start retroactively from the flight home from Taipei, and I'm going to go until I get to Buenos Aires and I'm going to see how many miles (or KM) I cover. How many will it take for me to write the books that I am about to write? Anybody want to take a guess? Maybe I should make it into a contest - sort of like those contests they have around Halloween or Christmas or at birthday parties or whenever it is that they have the contests where you have to guess how many jelly beans there are inside a jar. And whoever wins I can send a jar of..well, I can't very well send you miles (unless I give up all my frequent flier miles with Northwest which seem pretty f-ing useless anyway right about now, but that's another story for another day) a jar of something. Jelly beans anyone?


Anonymous Lindsay said...

Interestingly enough, some of my family were all in Santa Clause, IN just last week. They have a moderately decent amusement and water park there...for the lazy Hoosiers that don't want to drive all the way to King's Island or Six Flags.

That would've been an excellent pic of the policeman....

10:54 AM  
Blogger Frema said...

You may or may not remember me, but we worked on your article for Saint Joe's Contact, which I think turned out very well. Have you seen it?

Anyway, so long as your girlfriend understands your reasons, that's all that counts. I hope you have great (yet safe) adventures all over the world.

1:28 AM  
Blogger Alan Brinker said...

Frema - I did see that Contact article and I enjoyed it. My family got a kick out of it, too. And Lindsay found her way to this page and to my email address thanks to the article which is really cool, too.

As for the situation, I think Natalia understands well enough, which I suppose is all I can ask for. Thanks for the well-wishes!

11:42 PM  

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