Daily Challenge: What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life…)
Where did you go? The boy, the man, the vagabond I once had the honor of following around the world for a year. We’d spend hours reading from First Time Around the World, plotting potential destinations on my world map, and Googling directions (walking, because we were too cheap to splurge on public transportation). You’d wake up, exhausted from the previous day’s adventures and energized from all potential the current day held. Sometimes, you would type some stories onto your computer, but knew that I’d record it all instead; why slow down now when your friend could write in your place later?
We’d roam the markets, take dance lessons, eat on park benches, and talk to strangers in poor French, castellano, acholi. When we took the time, you would tell me the story of an incredible dance master who happened to be a dentist in India, a shopkeeper who took you in as a son in Uganda, a gay couple who regularly traveled between San Francisco and Buenos Aires. I’d ask you to slow down while I took notes, but I eventually learned you would tell stories not so I could record them, but so you could momentarily visit these people again.
I remember you giving me a soft push and urging me to ask for directions, usually from people who hardly spoke english. I remember you waking me up before dawn so I could make it to martial arts classes on time, to wander through almost-empty streets at 4 a.m. Sometimes you’d convince me to follow random invitations to parties, to restaurants, to bars, into people’s homes just to make sure that I stayed pleasurably uncomfortable.
Only you could convince me to do things like that.
This one time, while grocery shopping, I asked you why you had that stupid smile on your face. You shrugged, and said something along the lines of, “I’m shopping. For food. I could be doing this at home, but I’m not. I’m shopping here, in Buenos Aires, where I’m supposed to be. And that, my friend, is beautiful.”
I listened to you, rolled my eyes, and continued looking for a pepper that didn’t have black spots. Trying to be the worldly traveler I pretended to be, I thought I understood.
Now I sit here, in my apartment [specifically, in my bed] scooping up the last bits of pepper and homemade pasta from dinner, watching episodes of The Office, waiting for Jim to finally ask out Pam. I’m going through a bout of self-induced funk, which apparently is my response to not getting a dream job at 24. Although I haven’t been bed-ridden, the rate at which I have left my apartment feeling some certainty that my life is headed in the right direction has significantly fallen.
And this, my friend, is where I need you.
I miss you. Terribly. I miss you leading me, guiding me from one life-changing experience to the next. I miss you pointing out the most mundane things to actually be beautiful. I miss how excited you’d be just to walk around the city, to tell me how even breathing filled you with accomplishment. I miss how you’d make me smile just waiting for a bus to appear, from reading for hours in a cafe, from just letting me be me.
I feel lost – really lost – without you. You’re one of the few people I knew who could take everything for what it was: a gift. You were the person who told me that everything that had happened lead to the this moment, from my father enrolling me into karate lessons to not making the volleyball team.
At a point in my life where the pieces don’t seem to fit, why the roads before me are fogged, when it seems like all my attempts to push ahead seem to set me several steps back, I think I need to see you again.
You, my friend, my vagabond, are the one who set me on the right course. I think you’re the only one who can set things back on track. Make me sure of why I’m unsure of my place. Help me see life now like you did then, in that market, everyday.
Maybe one day, instead of missing you, I could learn to be just like you.