Temporary and Transitory

I have come back to my apartment in Albuquerque, and I am writing this post because I can’t seem to leave the house, I’m a pot of coffee in, and I keep telling myself to write something but I can’t seem to start or finish anything.  I just keep staring blankly at the middles.

Living room with new couch and desk.

It’s good to be in my own place with only my things around.  The first night back, I lit candles, made dinner, and listened to jazz records.  I keep talking about people who know how to “live well,” which involves–among other habits–the simple (and admittedly somewhat bourgeois) elements of good lighting, food, and music.  This new category of “people who live well” sits beside my abstract “person I can travel with” (who I have yet to come across) and I find myself on the lookout for these people constantly.  Meanwhile, I’m busy falling in love with people I shouldn’t love, who don’t fit into either category, and who are usually unavailable for one reason or another.  In short, I am out of a relationship for the first time in seven years, I am lonely, and my loneliness leads me to stupidity and desperation.  Here you go, world, my sitting-in-a-dark-apartment-in-silence confession.

Due to my inability to stay in one place, I spent the summer up in Jemez Springs, and was there for the entirety of the Las Conchas fire, the largest wildifre in New Mexico history.

View of the fire from Los Alamos

The smoke for the first few days looked like an atom bomb had gone off, and it settled into the valley at night when the air cooled and stilled.  It was, literally, suffocating.  The fire burned for over a month and the forest was closed for most of that time.  I went stir crazy and fixated on the missed opportunities of living up there during a season that the town was in stasis.  That was when everything began to feel especially temporary and transitory.  I became desperate to take advantage of people and places which would soon be gone.  (The return to town was looming, and my graduation later, and then leaving New Mexico all together, plus my sense of instability and possible doom in the world.)

I took a drive up to Los Alamos to see the fire damage.  Some of my favorite vistas were full of charred, toothpick trees and burnt ground.  I went down to the Las Conchas trail, one of my favorite places in the world, and the river was so full of ash that the banks had built up a sludge of blackened mud.  The place (a place that I spent every summer of my childhood, where my father says he wants his ashes scattered; a place that taught me part of what New Mexico is all about, and where I feel connected,) felt fragile.

The caldera pre-burn.

I’ve been joking lately that we should call our generation “The Apocalypse Generation,” but I’ve been starting to think that it’s not such a joke.  I don’t think it’s crazy to believe that the world will change in a significant and difficult way within our lives, and I see this manifest in a desperate need to seize the moment, stay versatile, and not plan far into the future amongst my peers.  When I looked at the burned Jemez Mountains, I remembered again that the things I love may be temporary.  I may lose them at any time.  That a certain immediacy should be celebrated and an acceptance of letting things go.

I want to do a million things.  I want to know how to do everything there is to do.  (The Meadow, by James Galvin, is largely to blame for the existential crisis of needing to gain “skills”.)  I don’t feel like I seized the moment of summer.  I didn’t catch a fish or an animal or ride a horse or harvest anything or build anything or fix a car or even split firewood.  So, I have unfinished business there, and I am already plotting on how to go back once I graduate this winter.  If society collapses, the country will be the place to be (The cities will most likely disintegrate into Escape-From-New-York-style gangs of roving subway mutants and will be generally hopeless pits of despair with high rates of mortality.  Only the “skill-less” will be there.) and I’ll need to know how to live there.

My last semester starts in two days.  One semester of this apartment and all the possible epiphanies and insanities of solitude.  (See: paragraph two.)  Then on to the next thing.  Last time I said that maybe the answer is just to keep moving, and don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want nothing more than to settle into a beautiful house in a beautiful place with a garden and a baby and a dog, but I think that answer really is in the transition, one million of them if necessary.



~ by Lenore Gusch on August 21, 2011.

One Response to “Temporary and Transitory”

  1. Maybe you should write down a string of middles and see what happens.

    Everybody is pointing out lately that “apocalypse” originally meant “uncovering.” It’s being translated now as “lifting of veils.” That’s a good thing.

    Swami Beyondananda says we will see this lifting of veils now in what he calls the Beginning Times.

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