I’ve crossed many borders since I moved out of Alaska. Many required a passport, long plane rides, learning key phrases in a new language. A couple days ago I crossed another one and got that same familiar feeling of excitement. The land, it looked different, with denser trees and rolling hills. People, they sounded different, accents mushing words like Playdoh. I could feel myself getting jittery and got excited when the visitor center thunked down a stack of maps and guides. Then…..reality hit. It is only Arkansas after all.
I think this is life’s little practical joke in a way since I had decided that my next, and last, travel assignment would be somewhere really cool. Instead, I find myself in an unfurnished apartment, sleeping on a camping mat with a blow-up raft as my living room couch (it does have a headrest and cup holder though). The manager spoke to me like I was not a “usual renter” and assured me that they would work really hard to get that smell out of my bathroom. He also added that they would be getting new trash dumpsters real soon, “nice shiny ones….we are making improvements!”
Although my first night on the floor was plagued with fears of cockroaches running over me, I’ve settled into this idea of “extended camping” and consider it my chance of having a toddler’s-eye view on the world (or at least my apartment) for a while. I’ve also adopted a “pet plant” that I picked up for $3 at Wal-mart and possessively carry between rooms. Somehow it makes me believe that wherever IT is, the air is clean. Wherever IT is, I am camping in nature rather than in a dumpy apartment.
In Joplin, I discovered an underlying goal of finding relaxation, health, and exploration through reading. Here, my goals are strictly shallow: I WANT MONEY! Unfortunately, as I don’t have a license to work in this state yet, I’m spending rather than banking. I’ve even had disturbingly alluring daydreams of getting a job at the nearby Chocktaw Casino where I spy on gamblers while I work and by the end of the summer throw down my own cards to the reward of tens of thousands of dollars. OR, I imagine sitting here on the floor of this apartment with my pet plant inventing things that I can publish and sell.
I think I should just pray for the license.
I have to either giggle, or cry, when I realize that I am now 35 years old. Living in an apartment with faulty plumbing, using crates for a desk, crossing my fingers that I will have money coming in soon to pay my mortgage. For the house I’ve never seen. And can’t get rid of. But, The Power of Now , my awareness of now, both tell me the same thing: RIGHT NOW, I AM COMPLETELY OK. Better than that. I am good. The air outside is a bear hug of heat, but I am cool and comfortable. I don’t know a single person in this strange little town, but I have friends that call me and make me laugh. I don’t know when I’ll be getting my next paycheck, but I have money in my wallet to buy a coffee in the morning and a pantry full of Trader Joe’s snacks from my dad. AND, not a single cockroach has jeered at me from those cracks under the wall.
Ft. Smith—you get 8 weeks and my undivided attention and sense of humor.