The Wilderness Years, Part the Second

Sorry to have abandoned you, my blog reading public. I didn’t mean to. Getting photos back is a bit longer of a process these days, as I have partially returned to film. And my life has become four square miles. My work commute is short. I’m not wandering around as much as I used to, I guess. I go to work. I come home. Then on the weekends, I hang out in my neighborhood. Pathetic. LOLOLOLOLOL

Me becoming a townie is connected with this entry. I’ve become close friends with this wonderful pair named Amy and Steven Castello. They lead the church in the neighborhood I belong to. Amy grew up in Alaska and Steven in Alabama and let’s say we cannot be more different if we tried. Both of them are stellar people and they’ve changed my mind about a lot of things. I’m a part of a social class that believes that travel is key to development as a human being and people who haven’t traveled, they remain ignorant to the world. But here’s the thing about traveling, I guess the dark side of it. It can also turn into a massive pissing contest about who has been where and for how long. I’ve been to 15 different countries. I have friends who have been to 50 different countries. Are they better than me? I don’t know but I don’t think so but I’ve had it lorded over me at times that I’ve “only” been to 15 countries. “Only.” Steven and Amy though have not had the same kinds of opportunities to travel as I have but they are definitely, definitely, not ignorant of the world.

Once a week we meet for this thing called community group. It’s ostensibly a meeting to discuss the Bible, but really we just sit and talk about food. Church is one endless conversation about food. That’s all it is. I’m only half joking. This whole bible thing is relatively new for me and I’m still learning a lot of things. Recently we were reading about John the Baptist and how he preached in the wilderness. I said to Amy that it reminded me of me wandering in the wilderness. I asked Amy if there were other people wandering around in the wilderness in the Bible looking for answers and Amy goes — OF COURSE THERE ARE. I don’t know why but somehow that was comforting.

Maybe this entry is a bit about this church thing that has gradually taken over my life, which is a good thing. The more I read the Bible, the more I read about people who were lost, who experienced pain and trauma and in a way, I feel less alone in the things I went through. At our community group, I started talking about my wilderness years, my years spend wandering Europe in search of something. Was it answers to what I should do with my life? Partially yes. Was it trying to figure out where I was supposed to live? Also partially yes.

At the same community group night, I was talking about those trips I took during the wilderness years, where I’d basically disappear to Europe, Denmark, Estonia, Russia but Poland mostly for months on end and my parents really didn’t know where I was or what I was doing. At the time, I did not appreciate how unique this was. To me at the time, it just felt like something I had to do and nothing was really going to stand in my way doing it. Now I am grateful that they let me do this. To me it was absolutely not at all glamourous. I would stay with my uncle, sleeping in the bedrooms of his kids who had long moved out. It was him, my aunt and his cat, Bulwa, whose favorite spot was on his keyboard when he was trying to type. I’d go on these trips around Poland with my cousin and her then boyfriend, where we slept in the upstairs of a woman’s house, whose shower was basically a garden hose. Also unforgettable was the time we slept in a utility closet. I don’t remember it being glamorous at all.

Amy though at the community group that night, where I per usual took over with my insane stories, said that sounded really glamourous. She was raising her children while I was getting lost on the streets of Moscow or wandering the docks in Gdansk, Poland. I was also struck by the fact that my stories weren’t met with disdain and oneupmanship. There’s an appreciation amongst those people of other people’s experiences and no need to outdo them or dismiss them, which I really appreciate. And I guess we’re all wandering around looking for answers in a way and people have done this for ages, since biblical times it seems.

There would be no great meandering post like this without pictures. There are always pictures, of course. These are a lot of pictures of Poland that I took in bright color. These are my scans of my pictures from 20 plus years ago. I hate how that end of Europe, CENTRAL Europe is somehow always portrayed in gray tones. Enjoy the splash of color or the prose, or both. Your choice as you also wander the earth in search of answers.

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