Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Random Law School Update 20

Last Locations:
The Yucatan: Tulum, Mexico, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Arrival Date: January 4, 2011
Departure Date: January 8, 2011

Washington, DC
Arrival Date: January 8, 2011
Departure Date: January 10, 2011

Current Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Arrival Date: January 10, 2011
Departure Date: January 15, 2011

Next Location: Washington, DC
Arrival Date: January 15, 2011
Departure Date: Unknown

I’ve contemplated the concept of home for a long time. At one point, I had to decide whether my answer to the question “Where are you from?” would be Arizona or DC. I could alternatively answer that I am from the United States or, as some backpacker-types do, that I am from the planet earth. I could take the perspective that home is where I started or that it is wherever I ended up…that year, that month, that moment.

Home is more than place. Home includes relationships, material comforts and familiarity. Jon feels like home. Comfortable hotel rooms often feel like home. Doing things I am familiar with, like school, the gym and travel, also provide me with a sense of home.

When I feel empty, lonely, distraught or disconnected, I seek out these homes fervently. I look to my closest friends, or Tucson, the library or, if I’m travelling, a clean bed and warm shower. Sometimes just a clean bathroom with free toilet paper will produce the feeling of home. Sometimes all of these things combined will not.

My sense of home sometimes teeters on the verge of collapse. When I move. When school ends, even just for the semester. When I lose a really good friend, to death or disagreement. When I force myself to confront an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation.

I think this concept of home is at the root of most, if not all, human journeys, ambitions and struggles. It is what we seek when we look for a life partner, family, best friends, hobbies, community, a good job or a nice house. It is also what those with no such desires seek. There is a way to find home within oneself. To become like a tortoise, carrying it around wherever one goes. That is what the nomad or the hermit seeks. And it is what I now seek. Not to become entirely independent of the other homes in my life, but to be able to produce the feeling of home within myself when my other homes are temporarily unavailable.

I think I have made a step in the direction of that goal on this trip. I found myself taking comfort in my well-practiced ability to transport, feed, entertain and shelter myself on a tight budget. I found home in my backpack, small and containing all of the tools I need to travel, indefinitely. I discovered little pieces of home in each traveler and friend who I met along the way. I found it in the sun and warm sand, which made me feel complete and safe standing alone, barely clothed. I found it in my camera and in my photos. And in the pages of a novel, which reminded me that there are other stories like mine, other characters whose thoughts are not unlike my own.

I left that to return to DC, where I thought I would feel even more at home. I instead found myself momentarily entrapped by cold white dorm room walls and a sharp chill of nostalgia for several months spent immersed in that room pushing my brain to the limits of its competence. I left for Salt Lake City 36 hours later.

The flight into Salt Lake City today was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. The clouds covered the earth below, cut the blue sky like an exaggerated cartoon drawing and then, unexpectedly opened up to reveal how close my plane was to the towering and austere mountains below.

On Saturday, my hometown achieved national attention when Congresswoman Giffords and 18 others were shot at a Safeway across the street from where my aunt works. Six of the 19 victims have been declared dead, including a 9-year-old girl. It is all over the news.



Saturday, January 1, 2011

Random Law School Update 19

Last Locations: Tucson, AZ
Arrival Date: December 24, 2010
Departure Date: December 30, 2010

Current Location: Belize City, Belize; Caye Calker, Belize; San Pedro, Belize
Arrival Date: December 30, 2010
Departure Date: Unknown

Next Location: Unknown

I just got to Belize two nights ago and am not feeling nearly sentimental enough to write all about the resolutions I've achieved in the last year. It is new here and very much unlike anywhere I've been in the last 12 months. I am disinclined to think about the past or to anticipate the future. I just am. Traveling again. Right now feels really good.

I rarely make specific New Years resolutions. I am not sure that I will this year. In the last several months, I have gotten over my debilitating fear of needles, have adopted a near-macrobiotic diet, have cooked every day (except while traveling), have quit my addiction to sugar, and have strengthened many of my human relationships. I am pretty excited about these ones and will continue them in 2011. I regularly come up with other things to improve upon, but it takes almost as much effort to articulate what these things are as it does to just make the improvement. So, here's to that. Happy New Years!