In the Caffe Tlazo
I’m currently in northern Wisconsin, driving around and trying to put off the inevitable.
My aunt and uncle rented a place up in Door County for a week and invited me to come up and stay for a few days. Another couple of aunts and and uncle are up here as well. They are all (mostly) retired, and so Door County in January is the type of thing they do, because hey, why not? You can go where you want, when you want when you’re retired, as long as you’ve got a decent pension coming in each month.
I am not retired. I was a teacher, and more recently I was a student. Sometimes I’m a director, or a playwright. Right now…I’m kind of…nothing.
I’m in-between projects, as they say. I could have been substitute teaching today, but to be honest, I’m feeling less and less okay with doing that gig for a time. It just feels like two many steps back, and yeah, I know it’s only temporary, my old job’s waiting for me next fall, along with my house, and that whole other life I used to live. I should just suck it up and take that call in the morning and go make my measly daily salary.
Except there’s that darn road, and the voice in my head that screams you’re supposed to be doing something different this year, remember? This was supposed to be a year, not five months and change.
Change…change…change…man, that word keeps rolling around my head.
When I talk to most people, they seem to be under the impression that I’m good and returned after having my adventure, and that’s that. Welcome back, Brian, and now let’s get back to the way it was. You checked that box, and good for you.
Except I don’t think that’s what this whole thing was about.
While I’ve been waiting to get this subbing thing sorted, I’ve been going for a lot of walks, trying to keep myself in Wandering Shape, getting lost in my head and trying to figure out what I’m going to do next. I’ve got some interesting things (possibly) lined up, but again, there’s that darn road. There’s a lot of ’em out there. And being on the road, or going for long walks in the woods is the only thing that really gets me out of bed right now. I only really feel alive when I’m wandering.
Most of Door County is closed for the winter season. The shops and the restaurants and the quaint little ice cream parlors are all shuttered up as the owners take a rest and do some wandering of their own. The retired relatives sit warm and cozy around a fire and pray for snow and skiing and look out across the blue-grey frozen lake. I’m squinting into the afternoon sun, driving a borrowed car that I have to return, and I suppose I should really try and earn a few bucks this week, but man…all that road going, as someone once said.
If I’m really going to do something different with my life, I’m only going to find it out there somewhere, not in a basement or a borrowed classroom or the same streets I knew from ten, twenty, thirty years ago.
Light’s starting to change in the cafe, and it’s time to get back on the road before the sun gets too low in the sky. I’m not looking at a map or a GPS or my phone for directions. Just heading where my gut tells me.