My body weight buckled under the pressure. Was it wise to buy such a large pack? Which my readers now dub the “Chanel” of backpacks. How can 35 liters feel like 100? It was a sweltering Sunday, having just left my best friend’s 18th floor apartment. The previous night was a series of errors. My first day of nomad existence was supposed to begin at my sister’s, but a dramatic argument with her boyfriend, and then with me ended in an agreement to cool off. I would stay at Sheri’s. Sis would go home to deal with the boyfriend situation.
An hour later, post 2 Hefferveisen beers and a piece of chocolate cake, I tossed and turned next to Sheri. Her hubby, Pete lay sprawled on the couch. God, I was warm. Feverish. This feeling reminded me of the time I downed açaí in Rio prior to my flight home. We were on the cusp of take-off when my stomach boiled over and the sweats broke out. The flight attendants fluttered around me in moth to light formation. Rio was gripped in a dengue fever outbreak, and the suspicion was that I was a carrier.
Off the plane I went, into the bowels of the airport medical clinic. Out came açaí from the bottom of my stomach. Thank heavens Rio has wastebaskets. Back to Sheri’s, I pushed myself up to beetle to the bathroom, sensing something was happening internally, oh my. Brazil berries all over again.
Then it burst forth – vomitus shot from my mouth seemingly with no control towards a hallway closet, the carpet, and the worst - Sheri’s precious pillow of the UK flag. I just regurgitated all over her native country. Our friendship could be effectively over.
Things were going along swimmingly. And before you ask, I have never projectile vomited in my adult life.
I weakly tried to clean up, conceded defeat, and roused Pete for help. He instructed me to sit down. Sinking into those cushions was the first bit of relief I had since the layoff.
That’s what the last few weeks have been – seemingly no control until I hiked to my sister’s with a new life on my back.
I burst into her suite, dropping bags with a loud thump, started sputtering a mile a minute.
“Whoah, okay.. you need to simmer down. You’re starting to stress me out. I’m just trying to have a nice time at home.”
I paused mid-word, she was right. I collected a glass of water, went on her patio, and breathed. In. Out.
Thus, here I am.
The past week still involved tidying up loose ends. Calling government agencies or amending bank accounts. I had to return to my old place and retrieve more items I want to sell to the highest bidder. Then a crisis arose with which party could foster my cat, Amelie. More phone calls later, that got solved.
I have worries. Observations.
My first worry is the physical punishment. Certainly my pack feels great, sits beautifully. Yet to imagine hauling Miz Chanel for several hours a day? The solution lay before me. Repack, woman. Cut down even more.
My observations fall into the societal realm. In the last month, I’ve systematically removed all the North American placeholders that hold significance for so many people. Homeless. Jobless. Practically penniless. Definitely child and man free.
These were the concepts I was taught since birth to covet. Pathologically desire.
I can’t lie and say it doesn’t feel strange at times. That I don’t have a regular bed to sleep in. Or all the objects where I’m staying are not mine, but my sister’s.
There’s a doe-eyed quality to these discoveries. Remember that brilliant show Morgan Spurlock spawned called 30 Days? Each episode a regular joe was placed in situations that were polar opposite to their beliefs. I think a Christian guy lived with a Muslim family, for instance.
The best episode by far was Off The Grid. Morgan plucked two 30 something New Yorkers with the worst carbon footprint and planted them at an ecovillage called, Dancing Rabbit. The female participant, a sassy Black woman pierced a Dancing Rabbit resident with bitchface when it was pointed out her shampoo and grooming ways were killing the environment. Loved it. They had no car, no job, no processed food, no electricity (at least not the old fashioned way).
There were hilarious moments of utter shock as both processed this entirely new way of existing. That is me at moments. Disbelief.
The appropriate question is, do I miss it? Those things I worked hard to escape. Not really. The energy it generated, to just keep them afloat. Not to mention the personal pressure we put on ourselves to die the cast – be what others expect.
Right now it’s sinking in that I am Off The Grid – cut free. The sweetest part? The ride is just beginning.
Today I’m off to Victoria, BC for the long weekend. To say goodbye to a treasured friend, take in some sights, and continue my membership in the foodie association. What’s that Latin term? Carpe Diem!