I'm writing this in part to decompress from the (long) day (actually, an extended string of long days), and in part in response to a question from Andrew on how I was doing. Andrew says I sound pretty happy on my blog, but that I'm also good at compartmentalizing things - to which I replied that heh, I thought I was terrible at compartmentalization... my brain's all one giant unified mess, but I'm pretty good at kicking that thought-swarm in the direction I'd like it to go.
So how am I doing? I think it'd be more than fair to say that I am indeed happy. This isn't particularly unusual; happiness is the default state of The Mel. And there's been a lot worth celebrating lately; it's not my place to break the news for any of these stories, but they should be out soon. Smaller moments, too - seeing old friends, dancing, chasing Audrey around with a netbook camera, figuring out another Norah Jones song on the guitar ("Shoot the Moon"). I'm happy. Giddy dancing happy, run-and-shout happy, giant tidal wave happy that just sweeps right through you. Life is good. No, no, life is great.
So I'm happy. I'm also tired, because all the happy news - which I wouldn't change for the world, mind you - also brings with it multiple simultaneous rollercoasters of change, and change is hard. Uncertainty is hard. I would say "even for me," but it's actually an "especially for me" - I live so spontaneously and so unstably already that for something to register as change! means that it's got to be pretty big. And I have been spending a lot of time thinking and a lot time in careful planning and a lot of time sleeping because of a persistent cough that hasn't gone away since I got back to Massachusetts (so the exhaustion is also physical - I'm unconscious for more hours than usual these days).
I've been closer to the edge of exhausted instability than I'd like to admit, but I have good friends who can bring me back from it, and I also have ways of watching and managing it (adrenaline: it helps sometimes). I have (relatively) controlled crashes when it's safe for me to do so. And I'm getting stuff done, and it's good work - not my best work ever, but I'm also at a point where I'm learning how to do different kinds of work, so there's always going to be a little churn on the uphill climb of learning, and then at some point I get to a place where I can enjoy a moment of coasting fluently before going "right then! next thing!" and going onwards and upwards again. I know how to keep myself running, and I am running, and it feels good.
And I'm... as close to content as I know how to be, I suppose. I've been in town for a bit over two weeks now, and the wanderlust is starting to itch at me again; I feel like driving through downtown and over the bridges late at night, watching the lights glow on the river... and wasting gasoline. I do miss living in the city, and my cough won't let me bike that far right now. I have to move, I have to go and do things, I have to explode out and fly away.
It's not that I don't like where I am; Boston is the city that feels closest to home for me right now. But you have to go away in order to come back, and that sort of perpetual motion, that sort of unstable equilibrium, is where I've lived for so long that I'm not sure what else I can do. I've always either sat at home aching and twitching and dreaming of this kind of life or gone out to actually live it, and I much prefer the second. I can't stay home. There's a reason why "Can't Stop Now" is one of my favorite Keane songs: the motion keeps my heart running. (Also, I think they play it too slowly.)
There's restlessness - and that's why I occasionally get wistful when I visit an older friend and see their kitchen full of pots and spices, or the garden in their yard, or their chickens, or their dogs. I wonder what it would be like to want to stay somewhere. But I don't want to settle down, nor even want to want to settle down - at least not anytime soon. Maybe there are some things I'm running from, but there are far more things I'm running towards - and more than that, I'm running for the sheer joy and speed and freedom of running. And I'm finding over and over again that, my god, I can run fast. (Metaphorically. I have got to get over this cough so I can keep on working on the real-life analogue).
But I get on a plane to go camping with Andrew two weekends from now. And then it's Olin's graduation and I'll be here with my friends and they'll be coming from out of town. And the next weekend I'm in California for my cousin's wedding. And then I'll probably (hopefully) get to go to NYC to see Sumana and Leonard and Mirabai. And there's dancing over the three-day weekend. And at some point in there, almost certainly, a trip to Raleigh. (Mmmmmm, BBQ.)
And then it's June! And a whirlwind summer of POSSEs and teaching and conferences and workshops and glory begins. Ahhh. Bliss. Brutal, back-breaking bliss... but I am happiest in motion. And I'm willing to work long and hard, because some things are worth it.
So yeah, Andrew. Life is good. And I am looking forward to seeing you in a bit over a week, because I'm probably going to get off the plane, wave groggily, devour a gigantic Irish pub burger, and then (presumably) at some point collapse into a sleeping bag in a tent in the woods for the weekend and not move again for a very, very long time. (Maybe even 6 hours.) And when I wake up again, I will officially be old. (But not old enough to rent a car cheaply, alas.)
 or the Florida equivalent, Mr. "I live in a state where the highest elevation is ~300 feet above sea level." ;-)