Before becoming a wife, a mother, I lived out of a suitcase with two men.
And we’d toil away at our crafts until the sun grew weary of our faces through the windows. Then we’d sup on vegetables not fully washed or on fancy sushi. Then we’d watch films of the Soderbergh variety. Then we’d talk, talk, talk, and talk some more.
One night, we spoke about living to learn and learning to live. I recall sitting precariously on a kitchen chair as their words coursed through my blood along with the liquid they poured from a skull-shaped jar. For a few months, I had lapped up all of their ideas, and subsequently trickled them out to any and all of my girlfriends that feigned an ear’s worth of acceptance. (And yes, I have the best girlfriends in all the land because it took a great deal of acceptance on their parts–first, to accept me living with men I did not know, and morphing into a shell of a woman they did not know.) Their philosophies were sharp and could be very unkind.
In short, they perceived the world as a concrete row of blocks that was theirs to move, to break and to stand upon as they saw fit–no matter who or what may be beneath it. Ayn Rand would be so proud.
This was entirely opposite of how I had been raised, how I had lived. For I saw the world as one gigantic lush forest of experiences that I was eager to seek. I felt (and still feel) pretty damned humble to waltz through it–just me and one stuffed suitcase.
On that particular night, they delved into their theory that once they reached thirty, they would know all that there is to know about life. (One man was a tish over thirty–the latter, just one year shy of 3-0.) I was baffled. I’m sure I laughed coquettishly, hand cupping the clear liquid I had as much trouble swallowing as their words.
They had to be joking.
Surely. I mean, who had the audacity to presume they could know everything by the time they reached thirty? Unless I perished on the day marking my thirtieth year, I could never presume to know all that there is to know. Knowledge is infinite. And with it comes power, fuel, and the concept that you have just embarked upon a quest for more and more and more of knowing and experiencing what you have yet to know, to explore. Right?
Sweat formed above my lips and between my brows as I tried to form words out of the mouse race occurring beneath my skin. They were so smug, just sitting there. So sure of themselves. In that moment, the relationship I had worked at building with these two wonderfully maddening, creative men started to unravel. Soon, we three tripped our way to slumber. Maybe it was the drink or maybe just the location, but I remember lying there so still and yet so fully alive. A thousand charlie horses, goose flesh upon goose flesh, just static about my body. Every little curve felt limitless. I knew that I would have to leave these men with their ideas of tearing the world a part for their own gain.
Maybe I was just made for leaving. Maybe I was too full of ideas to form to someone else’s. Maybe I was too stuck in my past to get on with their notions of the future. In spite of the wreck that was my farewell, those months offered a haven of newness to the way in which I proceed to live out my days. See, before I met those men, I was training my head and heart to banish all negative thoughts of the world ’round me. I aimed to leave as little scuff mark as possible on any surface I tread upon. I recall tiptoeing about their apartment, so as not to bother their creative head-spaces. For they were forever creating. And I loved that. In fact, I still miss not being surrounded by such creativity and variations of the mind.
But I don’t miss stuffing myself into a suitcase. Nor do I miss living between concrete walls built by others. My forest may always be clouded by things like school debt and squawking babes, but it is all mine. And I will never stop learning and loving and living and growing regardless of where my suitcase resides.