Monday, October 1, 2012

All At Once

I'm sitting in an airport in Taipei now with Daniel. This is our second layover of two. Our first was in San Francisco where my dear friend Elsa picked us up and drove us across the Golden Gate bridge for some dinner and one last chance at gelato.

One long week turned into one long travel day and, well, now I'm sitting in an airport in Taipei, smelling like a person should never smell, feeling like a person should never feel, and dozing off like a person should never doze off.

My life is spread across the Earth now. More than it ever has been. In a week and a half I have crossed almost every time zone and right now my body isn't sure if it's 5:00 AM on a Monday, or noon on my 42nd birthday.

And now I'm just waiting for my final flight before the next adventure really begins. I'm tired. And wondering whether my guitar, which China Air forced me to check in San Francisco despite being in a soft case, is still in one piece. I'm feeling bad that I was a little rude to the people who made me check it. I'm feeling achy and so full of so many different emotions from saying goodbye to so many different people all at once. So many different emotions all at once, in fact, that I'm stuck with a feeling that I've never really had before and one that I don't really know how to describe.


It feels like I'm stuck in a dream right now, too. Not a bad dream. Not a good one, necessarily, either. Just a dream. And I guess it feels that way because every moment that is passing right now seems so significant that it feels fuzzy, and eternal, and instantaneous, and unreal, all at the same time. And I'm wondering whether I'll remember these moments the same way I usually remember dreams. In bits and pieces that don't always make sense but still make me feel emotions when I think about them.

That's how the last 7 days already feel.

Lunch with a friend. Quick trips to the post office. Laughing with Bob and Cathie. Yard work. Eating Oreos with friends who are more like family. Visiting old stomping grounds. Laying awake trying to remember what I've forgotten to do. Tea at midnight amid good stories. Dozens of decisions. Some of those decisions, probably mistakes that will have to be sorted out later when I regain the capacity to sort them out.

And then, suddenly, Salt Lake City bid me farewell through the hugs of the dozens of people I love so much that it hurts to think about not seeing them for a year. Or, for however long.

The same thing happened just a few weeks ago when I left Ukraine.

And I hope that the hugs of dozens of people I'll undoubtedly grow to love just the same await me on the other end of this impending five hour flight. And maybe a year from now I'll be holding back tears the same way I have over the past week when I say goodbye to those people and head off to start some new adventure.

That's the problem with moving around. No matter where you are, you always miss somebody. Or something. Or somewhere. And you can never have them all together, all at once. Which leaves you feeling that you can never have it all together, all at once. So instead you're left feeling a range of sometimes conflicting emotions, all at once. Which, in turn, is never good in helping you feel like you have it all together.

I would play some sappy song right now. But my guitar is currently buried under a pile of Hello Kitty suitcases.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Come home. We miss you. Cathie
    PS. I don't have much hope for your guitar. :(
    But then that's just me and my complete dislike, distrust, apprehension of anything to do with AIRPLANES! HopeYOU make it ok....please let us know.
    PSS. Good post. XO

  2. You are such a great writer, Eli. Beautiful words. Good luck on your new adventure, can't wait to read about it!!! P.s. love the hello kitty joke

  3. You are such a great writer, Eli. Beautiful words. Good luck on your new adventure, can't wait to read about it!!! P.s. love the hello kitty joke

  4. Eli. This is exactly how I feel when I leave someone/place/thing that I love. Thank you for writing so well. Seriously, I dig it. The writing I mean. The hilarious and the beautiful.

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  6. Hey, let's not be knocking noon on your 42nd birthday, it will come! It did for me just months ago. . . or was that a week ago? a year ago? Anyway, it was not that long ago.

  7. I can totally relate to that feeling at the airport when you know one chapter is closing and another is opening. I felt that way in New York 5 years ago coming and going from Kyiv.

  8. My dream is to one day be a full fledged expat, having experiences and a knowledge of the world that puts me in a unique situation to be able to help in the right situation. But the more I travel and the more those that I relate to best spread across the globe, the more and more I feel as you do now. And the more they have found that it is harder to fit anywhere. However, I believe there will be a moment in time when you will know that all those experiences were needed so that you could help in an extraordinary way. And all those dream like bits will suddenly fall in line and you'll see how incredibly beautifully you fit perfectly in that moment. You are an incredible writer, even completely jet lagged. All the best for an incredible year ahead.

  9. You are not alone on this journey, literally or spiritually. Be still and know that I Am. You are weary today but in a week you will be smiling and amazed at the beauty of this group of islands you will call home for only 12 months.

  10. Awww I know the feeling.. && You totally have Daniel with you. ;)

  11. I know this feeling, intensely. You've stated it beautifully. As I go to more places, it is becoming harder to weigh the gifts gained by seeing, experiencing, and knowing the world against the loneliness of always missing out on what old friends are doing somewhere else. In the midst of the experience it is amazing, but in the quiet of the in-between times, it feels like a half-life. But I also wouldn't trade my experiences for anything! I hope your year is filled with enough purpose and amazement to keep you fulfilled. Palau!! WOW!!!