There are lots of boats around here, but the kind of “unmoored” that applies most often in the San Luis Valley, at my house, anyway, is “unmowered.” I have to fix that situation tomorrow…
But I feel “unmoored,” adrift. Sometimes I think, “Where do I fit in this place, in this life, right now?” and I have no idea.
What I thought I’d do when I moved here is now the last thing I imagine doing. My thoughts of being an artist here in Southern Colorado are far, far, far away. This place is crawling with artists. I learned about competition among artists very soon after I emerged into that world and I didn’t like it, not at all.
The pace of things here has been difficult for me to get used to. I lived such a long time under pressure to get things done, piles of papers graded, reports turned in, to class on time, etc. Even in THAT world I was “hyper-efficient” because it was the only way I could get time to myself. Now? Mañana. I got paid from the local bookstore yesterday for a book they sold last September. When I had an electric outlet in my kitchen repaired, the guys showed up more or less out of no where six days after I’d called.
I truly have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going with my life. It’s not the first time. When I got back from China in 1983 I felt this way. It was as if my life’s great dream had come true and then it was over. I was back in Denver with a husband who didn’t like me much and a future I couldn’t see clearly. Everything had built to that ONE thing, getting out of the country, getting some of what I called “exposure.” Coming back felt strangely like failure.
One evening I walked down to the local supermarket — King Soopers in Capitol Hill — a notorious, famous and wonderful supermarket. Outside, in a wheelchair, playing for tips, sat a man I knew, a jazz saxophonist. Tom. When I left for China, he had not been in a wheelchair. I asked him what happened and he explained he’d gotten the flu, it had attacked his spine and left him paralyzed. He said he hadn’t even been able to play, but he kept working toward it and now he could play a little bit. I sat down with him instead of going in the store.
“Where you been? I ain’t seen you around.”
“China. I went to China and taught English for the last year.”
“Well, I’ll be damned. China. That must’ve been something.”
One night I was hanging out in front of King Soopers with Tom, and a woman came up, a woman I had once worked with. “Martha!” she said. “What are you doing these days?” There was a judgmental edge in her voice. And, considering that I was sitting on a bus bench next to Tom in his wheelchair, godnose what she thought. I just looked at her. What right did she have to my history, a recitation of my adventures?
Tom answered. “She’s livin’. She’s jus’ livin’. That’s all any of us are doin’ and if you think somethin’ else, you’ wrong.”