Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I want to get back to my city by the bay

This was the view from my "stateroom" (translation= shoebox-sized room):

I suppose it looks lovely. Unfortunately, I could only take a quick picture of it, because looking out for more than a few moments was enough to get me woozy. Apparently, I did not drink sufficient quantities of alcohol such that I could avoid the motion sickness, but it was limited to queasiness rather than more explicit forms of nausea. Yes, it appears that I am a land lubber, my friends.

You know what is an awful combination? Watching An Inconvenient Truth and then hopping on a cruise a week later. Really. If there was any doubt that the world is doomed and unnaturally attached to the concept of excess, one need look no further than a ship carrying 2500 people to islands that are glorified River Walks. Every morning, when I took a shower, I could not fight back the questions: How much fresh water must this ship use a day? Does the water get dumped straight into the ocean afterwards? What about all the refuse? How much energy is it taking for this gigantor ship to get to Nassau? How many countries in Africa could be fed with the food that is thrown away from all of these buffets? Yes, I know- what a killjoy. But I'm being perfectly honest here. I think a good 75% of my seasickness stemmed from disgust at how absurdly wasteful those three days were. The worst part is that it dawned on me that most of my hopes are in vain: cruises are wildly popular, and I am pretty sure I was probably one of four disaffected individuals on the ship.

But in the final analysis, I am glad that it was simply a cruise to destinations of completely no interest to me. I am not just being cynical here. It would have been far more heartbreaking to, say, visit Madrid with my family of lunatics, and feel that I did not get to see or experience it the way I would have liked. The disappointment would have been too much to hide. As it was, it took all my energy reserves to stay out of the Land of Despair, given that:
  • South Beach. Big boobs, small waists, perfectly coiffed hair and flawless skin. Talk about feeling like a pariah.
  • My female cousins are obsessed with all the above characteristics regarding South Beach (and pretty much nothing else holds their attention for longer than five seconds).
  • My uncle asked me "Do you ever go to singles parties?"
  • My other uncle tried to talk me out of The Goal, in favor of going on some sort of vision quest to find a husband.
  • The rest of my family, while not as blatant as my uncle, kept casting pitying glances at me every time the subject of The Goal came up.
  • My grandfather's final parting words to me were: "You've put on a few pounds since the last time I saw you."

I really feel, at the end of four days, like I need to wash my brain out with bleach. On the flight home, my mind went into overdrive and I overanalyzed everything until I had given myself an ulcer. The timing is for crap; this is not really the moment to be having an existential crisis and wondering if I am on the right path or not. Besides which, I somehow seem to have forgotten that those doubts are theirs and not mine.

I don't know how this happens but whenever I spend too much time with my family, I begin to feel invisible and generally an outcast of society. It is strange, because I do not feel that way on a day to day basis. I do not even feel that way when I am walking through the home of the hipsters, my neighborhood, where I should feel very much like I am not cool enough. But I think the measuring stick my family carries is so different than mine. The things that make me happy are of no value to them whatsoever, and the things that make them happy are things I can never give them. It's a bizarre series of incidents that seem to have unfolded, that turned me into who I am, so unlike the rest of my family. When I am removed from their general vicinity, it is a simple enough thing to accept (and even joke) that I will always be a disappointment to them. But when I have to see it on their faces, when it's unavoidable, it is harder to brush aside.

But brush it aside, I must. I know, I suppose I have always known, that this is why San Francisco has always held such significance in my life. It is a place that most of my family cannot appreciate, a place they are not inclined to visit frequently, and a place where I do not have to face those concerned countenances. The Goal would have never happened on the East Coast, because all of those doubts would have become my own. Here, the impossible, the impractical becomes within reach. And so, I think it is time now to put my nose to the grindstone and get to the next phase of The Goal. It is a long ways away still, and this is no time to falter.

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