12.05.2008,10:32 PM
Time for a change
I don't know if I have an internal cycle or clock or if I just thrive on change. But every so-many years (averaging about 12-14) I need a change, usually a drastic one.

Every time I return from a weekend bike trip, especially more than two days, a blue funk envelopes me. A combination of several things: a return to a mundane job that has lost its passion. I used to be a scientist with passion, and I still am, but it's not in the lab anymore. It's at the core, back when I realized I was a biologist as a kid; Life in the Great Outdoors. Being stuck in a concrete canyon is eating at me.

I was born in New York and I may have lived there for my first 18 years, but I have never considered myself a native of New York. In fact, when I left, I disowned it. I always say I am from New England. My mind operates in bioregion mode, not within political and artificial human-contrived boundaries. I don't consider myself a Texan either. But I am in love with many things about Texas, just as I am with Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Hell, I am a Westerner at heart and soul. I was born in the wrong region.

I've pondered recently where I want to live next. I still can't say that I know. I still haven't experienced enough of the West to know. I can call the entire western half of the continent my 'home'. Home is where ever I hang my helmet. If I were independently unreliant on a monthly income by trading all my time (note that I avoided using the common cliche 'independently wealthy'; I don't want or need to be wealthy), my druthers would be to travel around the country on my bike for a year, write about the land and people, and share what I see via photography. But I guess we are all allowed our fantasies, aren't we?

I had -and still have- hopes to semi-retire by 2010. Thrusting my middle finger at the trend of retiring at 65, when we are too old and feeble to enjoy life, my plan was/is to sell everything except for bare minimum necessities, put them in storage, and travel for a year. Then decide where to set up base camp, er, 'home'. Southern Utah? Northern New Mexico? Big Bend? A canyon on the eastern escarpment of the Llano Estacado? Maybe two bases? I don't need much to live in. But I still don't know where.

My thoughts now are to watch the job listings for the Texas Park and Wildlife, maybe even in New Mexico. My expertise is biology, but my experience ranges from forestry, veterinary pathology, botany, genetics, molecular biology, neuropathology, even exercise physiology and livestock management. I'm a jack of all trades, but that's what survives. The basis is the same: life. Biology.

I left (fled) the city when I was 18 and avoided them for 25 years. I've never been a city person. Spending ten years in two cities, or close enough in distance to classify as such, is enough. It was an experiment of sorts. A drastic change from living in a valley of the coastal range in Oregon raising sheep and horses, coupled with lab and field work in botany and plant pathology. But it was time for a change (lost my funding, blew a back disc, and divorced); might as well move out of state. (I also wanted to learn what makes people tick, since I've isolated myself in the woods and mountains for so long. I had plenty of time then to learn about myself.)

Now I'm here in Texas. Still. A place I never in my wildest imagination thought I would end up (more likely it was Arizona). I'm still a scientist at heart, but no longer a lab rat. I want out. Outside. I need to be out of the boxes and cement canyons. I want real canyons, dirt beneath my fingernails, boots and wheels. I want plants stuck in the ground that will feed me. I want to wake up and not hear trucks, cars and gas rigs. I want to hear coyotes yip and yap, owls hoot, crickets and frogs click. I want to smell sweet or acrid junipers, hackberries, and watch my footing for cactus. I want to watch the storms roll in with a force that makes you vibrate, and lightening that makes your hairs stand up. I want to heat with wood again, maybe even build my own cabin again (which I vowed never to do again).

Most of all, I don't want to deal with four (or more)-lane highways, cars and trucks riding your ass, the buffeting of big tanker trucks filled with salt water or oil, nor deal with strip mall traffic. I want the two lane roads with tall grasses flowing over the road edges, a center line that is barely visible, small towns and communities where people smile and say "Hello! Where are you from? Nice day, isn't it?" I want to be able to take a deep breath and not be asphyxiated with smoke, garbage, and natural gas. I want to rid myself of car alarms, incessant and ever-present cell phone conversations, booming vehicles bounced by bass speakers, and load mundane trivial conversations by people whose lives revolve around shoes, who's adulterating whom and how much they put themselves in debt to have this and that.

I need to get away from the cities. It's time for a change.


posted by Macrobe
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