My body likes to play tricks on itself. Nine out of every ten times, the pranks are mean. For example, when my subconscious mind tricks my conscious self into oversleeping by showing me a magical fake dream clock. Similarly, my godforsaken ovaries have been known to trick my brain into thinking I’m pregnant, a move so cruel that Tina Fey had the ultimate evil, Regina George, pull the same stunt in Mean Girls (hi, this is Susan from Planned Parenthood).
However, the dirtiest bit of chicanery that occurs during the perpetual battle between myself and myself is something entirely different; the most damaging act is when my five senses pick up my brain, punt it across the Atlantic, and make me truly believe that I’m back in one of my beloved foreign cities.
Now, I’m not talking about reminiscing. I’ve explored a fair few beautiful places in my life and my brain willingly thinks of them fondly all by itself. What I mean is, I’ll be walking around thinking about my grocery list or how late I am for work and then BAM– a breeze will hit me in just the right way while I’m coming up out of the subway. I’ll smell a mix of coffee and dirty water and for a flash I’ll believe I’m really in Porto.
There’s a rush of adrenaline, my heart starts beating faster, and I’m happier to be alive than I was five seconds before. It’s more than being reminded of a specific place. It’s the precise amount of very distinct sights, sounds, and smells coming together to convince me that my reality has shifted and I actually am back in that foreign place.
Due to extreme levels of alcohol consumption, my brain is arguably squishier than most. As a result, it can be easily fooled by these moments. If the sensory experience is strong enough, I have instants of doubt bordering on confusion in terms of my whereabouts. The vicious tendrils that hope casts have a lot to do with the farce as well. Did I do it? Did I actually travel back in time? Fucking finally.
In the minutes following these little trips through time and space, I’m a bit miffed. After all, my brain isn’t the only thing at stake here- when it’s duped like that my emotions take a hit too. It’s no fun being low, hitting an unexpected high, and then crashing back down again. It’s like waking up on Kingda Ka.
You know, senses, I never asked to be whisked away.
And yet, a significant part of me still craves the abuse. Because for that instant, I’m back in a tea shop in London or coming out of the subway in Paris or walking into a bar in Budapest or (best of all) simply sitting in a train station in the middle of nowhere, nervous, excited, hopeful.
Shouldn’t that be what life feels like all the time? A never ceasing buzz of excitement for the vast unknown expanse that is your future? I think it should be. But somehow, it isn’t.
I’ve found that it’s too easy to give up on the future when you have a past that is so purely good. It’s impossible to be satisfied with a 9:00 – 6:00 entry level job you hate when you’ve felt what happiness can really be and you get unexpected tastes of it in your relatively mirthless day-to-day life. Fully feeling the best parts of my past is the gentlest act of violence I inflict upon myself.
So, how do those of us who experience this type of thing find happiness? How do humans whose souls are tied to “irresponsible” passions balance responsibility with what truly calls them? I’m 23 years old and I wasn’t born a Kardashian. I do not have the means to casually pick up my life and scour the world for new adventures to replace the old ones that keep beating themselves against the inside of my skull. Do I drop everything, become a gypsy of old, and start trading painted glass and sexual favors for food and shelter? I mean, I’m all about the bartering system but that seems impractical.
Do I find something new that I’m equally as passionate about? Something so beautiful and perfect that I have uncontrollable hyper-real flashes of it in my everyday life? That seems unlikely.
It’s all very frustrating and painful but I crave it. To my knowledge, there is no word in English that accurately captures the feeling. I bet there’s one for it in French.