It's midnight in the garden of Santa Fe or Atlanta, and the vertigo of having had to decide to choose between the two cities, again, is disorienting. I've been on a series of nested Odysseys and at this point am not sure that life is made up of anything but. So much so that it's hard to distinguish when they start or end. Sometimes, in order to tell yourself a story that makes sense, you have to just choose a landmark.
In this case, I am remembering the candles that I lit as an Oracle, and wonder what would have happened if they had burned differently.
I was living in Santa Fe, and had just landed a job in Atlanta. There were a variety of other things going on at the time, but sometimes you just have to keep it simple. Suffice it to say that in the Spring when these ideas of moving were being conjured, I had decided that I wanted to grow up, and somehow did not feel that I would to the degree that I wanted to if I stayed in Santa Fe. There were a variety of cities on the list, and Atlanta offered me employment first. I could also say that I was just bored, and was looking for something else to do.
But the choice was still a difficult one, and I remember torturing myself for weeks about it. My friend the astrologer said that I should light two tea candles. I was to name one Atlanta and the other Santa Fe. The one that burned the longest would be the winner.
I lit the two tea candles and waited. It was early afternoon.
The central idea that I could not wrap my head around was that of 'place'. We can trace a line on a map of the United States from Santa Fe to Atlanta, and know that it's about 1400 miles. We can see how many states are crossed on the journey, and we can watch as the landscape changes slowly from high desert to plains, to pastoral hills, and finally arrive at lush green sub-appalachian forest planted firmly in the red clay - a mixture of old worn mountain dust and trees decomposing over time, one after the other, like rows of teeth in a sharks mouth.
I wasn't prepared for how lonely I would feel. No friends to speak of. Pollution and smog. Oppressive, wet heat that made my upper back and shoulders boil into a somewhat benign but embarrassing case of back-nee. I learned that the distance between point 'A' and point 'B' can be measured in the degree of heartache you feel when the only place that your soul can expand is a 10 foot stretch of city path high enough to see a horizon line around the city. I was a desert rat used to being able to see for 50 miles in any direction. In Atlanta I was lucky to see 4 blocks down.
I was suffering from too many trees, and wondering how I got there. I kept remembering the afternoon turned to late night with those candles burning. Had I erred in my decision?
Place is more than a point on a map. It's this invisible force that changes over time - regardless of whether you are standing still or moving 1400 miles away. Looking back now, I can identify discrete chapters of my tenure in Atlanta. There was the first gig working for a moderately misogynist coke addict, and then a shifting business model of gigs in which I, many times, entered an employee and exited as a contractor. There were the times where I seemed surrounded by people who I thought would stick with me, and then weeks when the only people who called were my parents or the annoying pollers during the election. There was the brink of insanity and then there was the abyss, into which I fell many times in Atlanta. And each interval marked another nested Odyssey: caught between the Scylla and Charybdis. Between fierce love in which I seemed to access parts of my heart that I had not felt before, and the desperation of incompatibility. Between a somewhat haphazard series of work gigs and understanding myself as an accomplished professional. They say that to find yourself, you must first loose yourself.
In which case I am lost.
In this milieu I am in, place becomes almost secondary. I tasted waters from the wells of good and evil in Atlanta, sometimes in the same night. Sometimes without having left my house. And in all cases with a mighty thirst. And now on the brink of an equal but opposite move, I am stunned by a sense of the ridiculous. The friends I have now, I have fought for, and love. The house I am living in finally feels like I am moved in. The walking path that I use at least once a day is decorated with my artwork.
That I am moving back to a familiar place is comforting and scary at the same time. The ghosts that I left there have been starving for me and are hungry. The trails that I walked on when I first lived in Santa Fe have been fasting my presence and will be glad to have my shoe prints on them again.
In short, I am bewildered by the strange and circular paths that life takes us on, and the labels we give the points we reach along the way. Bewildered that I have gone so far for so long, and am finding myself back where I started.
This time I am not lighting candles.
Not that I would listen to them, anyhow. Two and a half years ago, the candles I lit made a decision for me. They burned well into the night, and when I woke in the middle of a hard sleep, only one was left burning. I went against its wishes and moved anyhow. There is a tendency, under these circumstances, to want to discount the entire journey because of it's inauspicious beginnings. To see the pain and the joy I experienced along the way as having canceled each other out, and as having been wrot under the strain of a journey that I was told not to take from it's inception.
But I know these thoughts to be ridiculous. We vacation to places far away because we want to see how the moon looks when it rises over unfamiliar terrain, and then we return. That we return does not cancel out the importance of the journey we have just come back from. And in any case, going from point 'A' to point 'B' just gives us excuse to pay closer attention. In this focus we find something much more than a point on a map. Eventually, we find a deeper version of ourselves - even if initially we were just looking for something else to do.