Welcome Back, Wherever You’ve Been

“First time in Salvation Point, stranger?” the shuttle driver asks, taking my bag from my hand. I wince a little inside, because now I owe the man a couple of bucks, which I’m happy to pay, but I never carry cash.

“Nope, just been gone a while,” I answer, taking the seat opposite the luggage rack so I can get up and grab my bag before he does, avoiding the awkward moment when he hands it to me and I hand him nothing in return.

“What’s kept you away?” he asks, eyeing me in the rearview mirror and wheeling the bus out of the depot lot.

I chuckle, but don’t answer. I let my head fall back against the rattling window and close my eyes.

What’s kept me away? What’s kept me from writing about an imaginary town on a model railroad in my basement?

Same thing that keeps me from remembering cash to tip shuttle bus drivers – an occasionally chaotic mind and a short attention span.

Mom always said I was creative, a dreamer, seeing in me things only a mother can. (She died in May and I know that kept me away a little bit.) What she saw as dreaming, I experience as mental static. Background popping and buzzing that sometimes distills itself into useful thoughts, but most often distracts me from paying the gas bill on time. I used to blame elementary school, where the torment from a couple of mean kids drove me into a survival mode where I didn’t care about getting things done, just getting through – but now that sounds too victim-y for my taste. Lately I’ve been working on a theory that centers on a bike crash when I was in third or fourth grade. I was alone and skidded on loose gravel and fell, and I know I hit my head and I’m quite sure I lost consciousness, for how long who knows. I imagine there is a lesion somewhere deep in my brain that short-circuits every once in a while, sending an electrical storm through the whole works and instead of clicking “pay gas bill” – a simple task – I zone out and Google pictures of interiors of luxury jets. Fascinating, this notion that you can have this wonderfully appointed space – bedrooms, big TVs, bars, staircases – staircases! – 50,000 feet above our heads moving close to the speed of sound. But there I go again.

Whatever the reason, here I am – loose on the planet without the benefit of a well-ordered mind.

To some people that’s a liability. One guy looks down his nose and wonders why some other guy hasn’t done more – if only he would work harder, damn it. Well it’s not so simple. Some of us get to be astronauts, some of us cast about inside our chaotic minds. “All men are created equal” is a dangerous lie. Engineers and surgeons do critical work and I envy them – I can’t keep my head in the game long enough to accomplish anything so important. I’m not sure that’s for a lack of effort. Maybe it is.

Anyway, so what? I do pretty good despite my infirmity. I support a really amazing family. I’ve held down continuous employment since the age of 16. I own a home, have an excellent credit rating, and generally get along with people pretty well. Except shuttle bus drivers.

So let’s hear it for the dreamers, the short-attention-spanners. I work with people who sit in cubicles all day and seem perfectly content to do so. The world spins on around them – leaves fall, grass grows, birds chirp, dump trucks rumble and people create and build and make – and they’re missing it! I’m thankful to have work that lets me out a lot. I get to see it, absorb it, and in that freedom I find a very productive place.

So I’ve been away from Salvation Point a while. I’ve missed it. I like it here. But I can’t say for certain how long I’ll stay.

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