Adventuring Alone

Clutching onto the railing of the Bainbridge Island Ferry, my current home recedes. At a distance, the Seattle skyline is a sight to behold. Despite its shiny skyscrapers, its proud Space Needle, it still appears to be brooding, a cold and shivering shadow, a vast expanse of greenery and grey. It warms my heart with its beauty but also exudes a much deeper, yet still beautiful, sadness. My tears are from the breeze, right? I pull my sweater closer around me as the city fades behind the mist.

Adventuring alone is an art, one that I've nearly perfected in my days. Right now I'm rusty but it comes back to me with surprising ease. It requires a certain stillness of the mind, openness to the whole idea of "being in the present." Maybe there's a book, a song, or a podcast involved in that present. These days it’s Lana del Rey, Mazzy Star, and Joni Mitchell. Maybe silence itself becomes the companion, sharing what I see, what I feel. 

In the silence, I become much more aware of the oddly intimate moments I share with strangers or even with objects. In one afternoon I found myself standing still at a crosswalk next to someone intensely eating tapioca pudding and then, moments later, hearing a hoard of wind chimes sing in the breeze and feeling like the only person witness to their sad tones. These moments are so small yet are amplified in my meandering consciousness, a strange connectivity with the world. 

Oh, my father sighs, if only we had a screwdriver that could unscrew wrongheaded ideas; if only we had a hammer to drive home good intentions; if only we had a pipe wrench to tighten hearts in everlasting love; a saw that we could use to make a clean cut with the past!
— Stefano Benni, Margherita Dolce Vita

I’m more aware of my own mind too. These days it’s more prone to making me cry and worry, like a bully who tries to convince me that all of the rational things, all of the things that I know for sure, are not actually what I should follow. I know that this will normalize again soon. It’s these solo adventures that help with the process and remind me of the good that my mind can do for myself. They inspire me, encourage me, and provide me with simply the fresh cool air that revives my spirit. 

In addition to these explorations, I still let my hands work, of course. A little macramé every day, the sort of non-recipe cooking that depends on instinct rather than rules, even washing dishes. These act as the sort of the scotch tape of my life. It’s no super glue, but it’s doing the job right now.

While I mend, the long walks I take in this cooling, hint-of-fall weather send me on a whirlwind trip through nostalgia. It takes me back to London, which smelled like cigarettes mingling with the warm coffee air that wafted from cafes. It takes me to a brisk fall in Boston and a 7-course dinner with my sister, to chasing my dogs in the leaves, and to memories of other times I’ve crawled my way back from the darkness. With each day, wherever I am, the breeze washes away loneliness, pain, confusion and I’m left with pure and true me, and nothing could be better than that.