The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Older and Far Away

If you have been keeping up with my flickr page you may have noticed that I took a little trip to San Diego. I went to visit Hannah and freeload on her couch for a week, because I hadn't seen her since her visit to London in March, and before that since her departure from the Spring-dale last August. However, I also went for my own sanity, to prove to myself that I can still get out of Missouri. I had lived in Springfield for 21 years before I got out of it for any length of time, so I think part of me was terrified that it would be another 21 years before I broke out again. Springfield has a way of sucking you in; it takes a supreme, concerted effort to get out of this town. I think the main reason why is because it is just so *comfortable* here. It's so easy to live here; so pleasant and calm and placating. It's like when you've been sitting in front of the TV for 3 hours watching episodes of "Next" and you know you're wasting your life but there's some kind of invisible force keeping you firmly affixed to the couch, a tangible lack of willpower that proves the infallibility of Newton's first law of motion. In fact, Springfield and a Couch at 2 a.m. are alike in several ways--they're both comfortable, deplorably common, and have the gravitational pull of a Stellar-mass black hole.

Therefore, I went to California (at least partially) to set my mind at ease. It is still possible to escape. Travel is still manageable when one lives in the American Midwest, though of course not nearly to the extent it is in Europe. Some of my British friends had a little freak-out when I told them about the cost of airfare here. "£200 to fly in your own country?!?!?" they cried. Oh, says I, if only it were always that cheap. American travel is harsh and cruel mistress after experiencing the streamlined and extremely affordable European airlines. I think my average cost for airfare there was about $30-40.

But anyway. I went to California and it was a lovely little escape for a week, before I had to start my new job. That's right; I am not gainfully employed as a Customer Service Rep for a major cell phone company. Hurrah. While I was there, though, I most hung out on the beach all day, then came home to Hannah's apartment where I would eat dinner, she would complain about her job, and then we would watch a movie together while splitting a pint of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked ice cream from the shop around the corner. It was pretty much wonderful in every way. Even the day I spent cleaning her bathroom was better than getting up and going to my job here. Maybe I should be a plumber.

For all the lovely beaches and grand vistas, one of the most interesting things about San Diego was riding the bus. I got to observe all kinds of different people who were almost always fascinating. There's something about public transport that always just *inspires* me. It's a combination of the unique manners people sport when quietly tolerating each other in such close spaces while they're stuck in a transient environment, and the strangely privileged feeling I experience when someone *else* is driving a craft carrying *me.* No driving for me, no sir! I get to just sit back and enjoy the view, read short fiction out of The New Yorker, write observations in my journal, or listen to my iPod. I have no idea why public transport gets such a bad rap. Of course, Springfield has no public transport, save for a rather frightening bus line, so I have to take my inspiration when I can get it. I started a short story featuring Characters From the Bus, but the problem is I have no plot. Just settings.

There are many stories to tell about my travels, both abroad and domestic, but they will have to unfold slowly over time. It is too daunting a task to record one's life in faithful detail with any kind of immediacy. The Universe does not produce an automatic RSS feed of my daily activities, and neither shall I attempt to do so. It is simply too overwhelming.

However, I will write about something so current that it happened Saturday, and that is the fact that I am now another year older. I haven't yet decided how I feel about this, so I've decided to feel nothing. After all, it shouldn't come as any great shock (though that's not stopping my parents and grandparents from voicing their enthusiastic incredulity, of course); I knew it was coming. I think I shall simply view it as another step towards that age which, in my mind, has always seemed to be the high point of life (though I certainly hope I'm wrong). The Perfect Age, I have always supposed, must be 26. I decided this when I was about 11. I figured then, and I still do, that 26 ought to be perfect because you should be old enough that you're not nearly as confused as you once were (22 must be the most confusing age in the spectrum, because everyone I know, including me, has no idea what the F is going on or what we're supposed to do with ourselves), you're nearly old enough to be taken seriously (my primary objective in life), but you still retain all the amenities of youth (good health, relative beauty, etc.).

If you are 26 or older and wish to dispel my illusions concerning this mythical Perfect Age, please don't. I'm clinging to all the hope I can muster right now.

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