Sunday, June 15, 2008

Nassau, Bahamas

We arrived in Nassau today. I don’t know why home for me is always a foreign country--as soon as I’m on foreign soil I feel like I belong. I’m only belong when I don’t belong. Even the air smells different in a tropical country, heavy, in every way other. The awareness of a whole different wide world outside of this our United States of America immediately hits me.

There are whole civilizations that live, and breathe, and make lives for themselves: mining gravel and growing vegetables and driving taxis, far, far away from the imprecations of our imperial government. Being aware of them again makes me feel like I’m coming alive again, after a long time in the grave. It makes it worse to see all the Americans trekking through in their new brightly colored sweatshop-crafted fashions, their short shorts, their purpose-bought vacation clothes, bought for seven dollars from the discount rack at Old Navy. The contrast between the people living real lives, far away from the unrealities of our existence, is what makes the most striking immediate impression. We float over the surface of rest of the world, like so many Marie Antoinettes with our cake.

Can I really be happy in the US? The pressing question. Maybe the real question is: can anyone?

Abject terror still creeps up on me now that I’m here. Now it’s fear of what I’m going to do when I’m left alone again. Tonight I’m exhausted with the exhaustion of three hours of sleep three days in a row, and the exhaustion of anticipation for everything that lies ahead. I’ll sleep soundly tonight, even with the Boston Celtics on the television.

I leave everything in the hands of God, fate, kismet, synchronicity, whatever your faith deems I call it. For me, more and more by the day, it is the capable hands of Christ in whose hands I leave things. My faith returns to me, the crystal clear faith of my childhood.


Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa...have been following your journies since the PCT a few years ago, then your long bike ride, and now cruising.

It is easy to project your antipathy, ambivelance to others. Those you see in their newly purchaed vacation clothes lead real lives where they live when not vacationing. The point of a vacation is to change your circumstances, your routine. Maybe live in more luxurious circumstances than you could, or would normally. You travel to the Bahamas not to vacation, or recreate, but to salvage, or reclaim your beloved Secret from the ravages of salt air, water, and humidity. While it may be real life for you, it is not for most. Real life for others is living in the U.S., gaining satisfaction by working to put food on the table each day, raising children, loving their spouses, and volunteering in the local youth sports league. They have chosen to sacrifice their desire for travel, adventure, and no roots to raise families, do honorable work and enjoy the rewards that come from those choices.

I believe it is possible to be happy most anywhere. Happiness is not derived from geographical location, or circumstance. It comes from within, and is a choice. If one is naturally unhappy then neither circumstance, location, nor success will result in happiness. If one is naturally happy then these things will just enhance that happiness.

Anonymous said...

woohoo! you made it! Keep writing. I want to know how it goes. (-Amy)

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I was especially impressed by the your last paragraph - especially the last couple of lines. . . 'the crystal clear faith of your childhood.' So I immediately came to the comment option and wanted to give praise. I just read the first comment, and the anonymous commenter makes great points. Happiness isn't really the issue, it is joy that is the gift that you seek. But returning to the clarity of faith that you mention is a big step in that direction.