Sunday, August 9, 2009

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day

"I certainly haven't been shopping for any new shoes

I certainly haven't been spreading myself around,
I still only travel by foot and by foot, it's a slow climb,
But I'm good at being uncomfortable, so
I can't stop changing all the time


If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day
You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay
I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way, and say,
I've been getting along for long before you came into the play

I am the baby of the family, it happens, so
- Everybody cares and wears the sheeps' clothes
While they chaperone
Curious, you looking down your nose at me, while you appease
- Courteous, to try and help - but let me set your
Mind at ease


If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine."

~Extraordinary Machine, Fiona Apple

I was listening to this song at work today-- how apropos for the post I was planning.

My favorite bookstore in the whole world is McNally Jackson in Soho. Sometimes, if I have a few free hours, I will just go there and read travel books to my heart's content in preparation for our impending journey. Sorry, McNally Jackson, no I do not buy anything. But I am oh so tempted. In these travel books the authors often mention the possible reactions of one's family and friends to one's travel plans. And how it is often negative, pessimistic, or worrisome. And I am here to tell you that is exactly right. Be prepared.

Sarah and I hatched this crazy plan in April, May, June... I can't remember. Sometime in the spring. It was rainy. I kept it under wraps for a while, as I was hoping to buy tickets before I told my family. They therefore could in no way forbid me to go because the damage would have already been done, and maybe I would stave off some of the advice. Well, that didn't work out, and I ended up telling them in June when I happened to be home for a couple of days, and wanted to ransack my parents' camping equipment. The response was not that positive. They were all, obviously, worried for my safety, my future, my sanity, etc. Friends' reactions were varied, ranging from full-on support and encouragement, to "Wow.......".

But familial duty, vs. friendly affection, bears some weight, and family members feel it is their moral obligation to let you know when they think you are doing something ridiculous (stupid). And they have.

I would like to now briefly introduce you to my family. For the purposes of this blog they will remain fairly vague, as this is my privacy I am sharing with the internet, and not theirs. Suffice it to say, I have 9 siblings. There are 8 girls, 2 boys, and I am lucky #7. Yes, that is the fun fact I frequently use when introducing myself to groups of strangers. Though it was not such a hit in Utah, land of the Mormons. And yes, they are all Mormon, as far as I know. I am the only black sheep. Baaaah. I love my family. There. All of cyberspace knows now. My family often objects to the way that I write about them on my original blog, they think I convey a negativity surrounding them. I disagree, but just to cover all bases, my family is a huge mess of lovely. Who worry very much about my well-being.

From family and friends I have gotten a couple of very concerned phone calls about the trip. They have not ended successfully, on either side. I have received many emails about all of the things that could possibly go wrong. I have used them to help prepare myself for such misadventures. I have received one whopper email which alluded to the boredom and disappointment in my life that I am apparently trying to escape via ill-advised exploits south of the border. And my questionable relationship with Sarah, despite little actual knowledge of girl or relationship. I was troubled by this last one, hurt even, though I can see that where there is concern, there is care for me. Nevertheless, I don't have anyone close, like Sarah does, who is totally supportive of this journey. I wish I did.

My point for this post is that when you go traveling, know why you're doing it, and keep those reasons close. Or the overwhelming negativity that comes in waves may knock your feet out from under you. I am so confident in my choice here that none of these calls or emails have seriously deterred me. I know Sarah and I are crazy. But it's the good kind. The kind that creates stories, learning, legends, and memories. The kind that creates lives.

I am different from my family. It's funny, growing up, I felt like I could never do anything unique in a talented, intelligent gaggle of 10. I remember, soon after moving to Fairfax, at 8 years old, sitting in a fort of boxes in the dining room. I was hiding. Anxious that I would never be different or get noticed. Being 7th of 10, I figured that anything I did, someone else would be able to do it better. And I just hoped and HOPED that I would stick out in some amazing way. This became a standard part of my subconscious for life. When I was responding to the whopper email, I was wondering why it was that the writer was so off-base. Why they didn't get my reasons for the journey, why it was important to me, and why I was making it a priority in my life. And I realized, it's because I am different than most if not all others in my family. And definitely different than the writer. And so they don't naturally get it. Or don't choose to. Or compact my complex nature into condescending remarks about youthful follies, because that's how they choose to see me and logically explain my illogical (according to standard American action) behavior. I feel like my loved ones keep brushing off these words of mine as just words, but they are sincerely how I feel, and I hold my actions up to my own high code of morals and beliefs, even if these differ from their codes. I am different. There are many of you out there who are different like me. But I guess I got my 8-year-old wish. I am different from those 9 siblings in many ways. And I can sing with a gorgeous vibrato (another childhood wish).


Unknown said...

I think you are just incredible, Laura.

Anonymous said...

Huh. So when you wrote this on this very blog:
"What do you know about traveling in Central and South America? We need all the advice we can get."

You really didn't mean that you wanted "all the advice you can get" if it comes from people to whom you are related. You just want it from total strangers. Any advice you get from family you deem to be criticism. Kind of puts us in a bind, doesn't it?

And let's be totally honest: you have some very well-traveled siblings. One who knows visas and embassies, one who has lived long term and alone in a third world country, and one who works in the travel industry. That, quite frankly, is advice people would pay for and you whine about it.

I know you revel in being the black sheep--believe me, I've been there--and even more in being misunderstood. When you got your "whopper" e-mail from someone in the family, you decide that your family just doesn't WANT to understand you. Isn't it possible that you do not communicate with your family enough to ALLOW them to know you? Probable, in fact. You don't write or call except when you need a favor. You don't share your life or feelings with us--this blog is a great example--clearly your friends were informed about its' existence many months before you told your family. Yet you blame your family for not "getting" you.