This is where it gets weird. No, not like ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ weird, or people that back in to their garage weird, just kind of a general sense of being out of place.
At first glance, it might seem like I’m roughly in the same place as I was in Day Ten – and to some degree that’s true : Paris and her bipolar beauty does make my mood rather sharply cyclical while I’m here (wait, does that make me bipolar too?), but it’s really less about angst and more about disorientation.
When I planned to spend a month in Paris, it wasn’t for the reason most people probably assumed. I’m sure people presumed that I thought it was just so wonderful that I needed to spend a month there to soak it all in. Of course it’s got its charms and it’s a pretty place to kill time, but that’s not why I’m here. I chose to come here for a month as a sort of self-imposed ultimatum, a way to force the issue to find out if I really, truly wanted to write or take a different path right now.
When at home, the temptation to either do nothing or do what you’ve always done is too strong to overcome sometimes. We are creatures of habit, after all, and being in a comfortable, familiar environment will almost surely make hours disappear much faster than you want them to. That’s not always a bad thing, but I had tangible goals to accomplish, and the clock was ticking on my ability to be without an income-generating job.
So much like the hard-ass Dad in the 1950’s who caught his kid smoking and made him sit down at the kitchen table and smoke an entire pack of Lucky Strikes while taunting him with “You wanna smoke? Then go ahead and smoke, big guy,” I had to push myself to do something different to see how serious I was. At home, there’s always a show to watch, a friend I can go visit, or God knows there’s always a cat that wants attention within arm’s length.
I chose Paris because it’s just comfortable and familiar enough to not create constant stress, but it’s far enough away to give me a lot – a LOT – of free time with no obligations, unproductive routines, or people to see. After I wake up every morning, with no agenda, no house to clean, no errands to run, it’s as if the more cynical part of my brain is saying “Ok, motherfucker, you want to write? Then go write. Here’s a laptop. Here’s 14 hours with nothing to do. Go, write, now!”
Thankfully, I do still want to. I am spending half my day either typing on a keyboard or staring at one. On good days, more the former than the latter. Even though it’s working out though, actually very well by any measurable aspect, after a few weeks it still puts you in kind of a no man’s land – I’ve been here much too long to feel like I’m on vacation, and I know I don’t have a job here, so… what exactly am I doing?
Logically, I know the answer, but it doesn’t sink in very easily without concrete outside structure. No one is checking on my progress, there’s no paycheck waiting at the end of the process. So, for now, I do work strictly for the sake of doing work. Writing words for a website most will never see, and for a book that, quite possibly, no one will ever see. In a way, we come all the way back to where we were on Day One – you’re not sure how it ends, but that’s where faith comes in.