Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back in the Ring

Perhaps it is silly for me to say that I feel old at 28 years of age, especially as I sit here preparing to board a plane to Brazil to start a 9 month journey in Rio de Janeiro. “Old” is probably the last feeling I should have, but for the last few days of my life, “old” is exactly how I’ve felt. 

I feel like a retired fighter going back into the ring, unsure if his chin can hold up to the same shots or if he still has the punch to carry him through a fight. He wonders about his movement, if he has enough youth in his legs. The first two usually stick around with a fighter; it’s the last one that fades with age. A boxer’s vehicle are his legs. They are what gets him from corner to corner, to set up combinations, to avoid danger. Legs are a key asset to prizefighting and they deteriorate with time. 

Veteran fighters facing off against a prospect are a reflection of how gracefully one has dealt with the trials of time and a test for those entering into a new stage. In those bouts, experience usually trumps youth, but I find myself awkwardly in the middle. Not enough under the belt to be veteran, but not young enough to continue making careless mistakes. Sometimes I wonder about my chances.

When I look back on my life, it’s strange, comical really. If one was to judge me based on my accomplishments alone, you would expect to find a completely different person. A gregarious adventurer conquering the world full of confidence and self-belief, excited at all opportunities for risk and change. But I’m really quite the opposite. I go to sleep early. I like to stay home and read. My biggest comfort in the world is to have someone hold me and tell me that I’m enough. It’s almost as if that’s all I ever wanted. 

It sounds strange to say this, even stupid to some, but I don’t want to leave. I’ve spent so much time searching the world for something, yet for the past three years, I’ve finally found a world where I felt at home. My best friend lived a block from me, and I spent every Thursday afternoon with talented writers. I finally felt like I understood something about family and about my place in it. And I’ve always maintained that I’ve said “I love you” three times in my life and only meant it once. Now that score can be upped to two and four. 

Friends, family, and love. Those were the only things I’ve ever seen keep communities together.

I’ve told people that I had plans in Brazil, things I wanted to accomplish, empires to build. But the likelihood of that actually happening is very slim; in fact, I’m not too sure that’s what I really want. Most likely this time will pass faster than I expect and I will try to return to a world that may no longer be there. I don’t know what this trip means to me, but I do think there is some part of me buried in Brazil and I’m on my way to dig it out. Let’s see how far these legs will take me.