Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I'm a mess

I arrived in Oakland Saturday night at about 8:30 PM. Taxiing to the gate, I could see the San Francisco skyline in the distance against a light auburn sky. Unusual, no fog. My heart was racing, and I felt this general uneasiness running through my body. The plane suddenly felt cramped and claustrophobic as I was struggling to find my breath. I took the BART to San Francisco, and when I got outside in the Civic Center, I felt like I was hyperventilating or was about to faint. I was finally home......yet it felt strangely foreign to me. Everything is the same here as when I left it, but it felt different.
Maybe I'm the one who has changed?
Walking in the cool San Francisco air with my backpack for the last time felt like a strange dream. I felt like I was outside of myself, floating above watching this traveller stumbling along, confused and puzzled by his surroundings. When I arrived home to an empty void of a room, that is when emotional overload and confusion nearly broke me down. I was both overwhelmed and sad. Overwhelmed at having to piece back my room, to piece back what seems like a former life. I felt like a detective re-enacting the scene of a crime with fragmented clues of my past. I felt sad because now it really feels like the trip is really over. Emptying the contents of my backpack felt like putting a good friend to rest in its final resting place. I dealt with this emotional breakdown the best way I know how. I went out and got drunk.
Maybe I haven't changed?
I'm glad I was in San Francisco for only 36 hours. The slow assimilation is helping me blend back into society as I knew it. I did have a chance to meet up with some old friends. A few were genuinely happy to see me and hear about my trip, and I love them for that. For others, the conversation was awkward at best. It seemed like the conversations were the same as when I left. A one-sided outpouring of the usual old fare, I'm having this problem with my bf/gf, or so and so and so said this and that, or blah blah blah me me me. When I spoke it was just a pause for them to catch their breath before the next complaint/gossip session. When I spoke about my trip, at times it felt like a methodical job interview, more than it did a conversation amongst friends. I don't know why I sometimes feel comfortable amongst strangers in a foreign land than amongst my own people. I felt like running far, far away. But that shouldn't come as a surprise since most people are the same as when I left. In all fairness it's not something that many people can relate to - taking a year off.
Maybe I'm the one who has changed?

But don't feel sorry for me. I put myself in this position. And don't feel angry towards me. Many people tell me they're jealous, or I'm so lucky, or I'm so spoiled. But no, this was something I badly need to do, and I took all the necessary steps and sacrifice to make it happen. I'm just going through the withdrawal phase right now, trying to deal with this 'strangeness' that has overtaken me. And it seems like nobody understands what I'm feeling unless they've had the same gap year experience.
Maybe I'm the one who has changed?
If anybody knows of a Gap Year Anonymous or a Vagabondaholics support group, I'd love to hear about it. But right now, I'm in the east coast splitting time between the folks house in New Jersey and visting friends in New York City.
On a hunch, I think in NYC, I might finally find out, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?


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