In June, I sit in my car on the side of the freeway and wonder if this happens to people too. The air is filling with field-fog in the late evening slant of dusk; only the cars traveling long distance are on the road now since we are so far out in pastureland. Bright shafts of headlights are swinging over my windshield intermittently. A couple hours out from Alden, I realized that the paper with the directions I am supposed to follow has either blown out the window or has somehow dissolved into the grey interior of the silver Buick. Not only is the paper gone, but I am gone too.
I picture the sheet of directions, now crossed over the great divide, half of it here on earth and the other half in Neverland or wherever the lost things go. My body is in the same situation, really, because I am lost or someone has lost me or I have lost myself.
This is mostly how I think life is: everything separated between two existences – the supernatural and the earthly. In the morning yesterday, as I was warming hot water in the Keurig for coffee, I thought how this earth couldn’t be all there is in life. In the world I am used to, things become misplaced. But in the world that was made in truth, heaven or Eden, that fully lit place that vibrates with life source, things are found. Despite all of the striving and searching, this worrying about being lost, I have actually been found all of this time. Not on this blank, dry earth where there is still death – but in the light, where all things are new. But I haven’t fully discovered this yet.
It is three years earlier when I stand in the cold at that bus stop in Milwaukee, swaying with the raw wind and feeling insecure about traveling alone. I think of how everyone else seems right at home in their bodies and bundled coats. The serrated branches of a neatly trimmed tree downtown are suddenly blocked out by the elevated bus that pulls around the corner. The vehicle leans dangerously to the right, and then drags to a stop with an expulsion of steam and exhaust. I file on after a short African American woman with a cap pulled low over her calm eyes. Behind, I am boxed in by a group of four college-age guys who are tromping the snow slush off of their Carhartt construction boots in the bus aisle. The light, musty remains of cigarette smoke settling on the bitter air is acutely present. Feeling terribly unassertive and afraid I will be mugged at any moment, I pull the strap of my small, leather purse to the front of my body as I shuffle to the back, so I can handle it with both hands instead of one.
I feel intimidated on this double-decker bus and a bit out of control. Locating my identity here is slippery, and my hands feel numb and like blocks of wood as I try to handle the thermos of coffee along with the bag I brought on board. I suck my breath in quickly - this self-searching is becoming tiring. Spotting an empty seat next to a younger woman on the left side of the walkway, I toss my carry-on into the overhead compartment and gingerly sit down on the seat. She plugs in red headphones and turns to stare out the streaked bus window.
We really don’t talk at all the six hours we shoot through the pastureland of Wisconsin. I watch the city lights fade behind me as the tall Milwaukee buildings disappear over the rolling green of the gradients and ditches. Now the skyscrapers are lost too. It isn’t until I am back home, separating my clothes into piles of clean and dirty that I realize all of those passengers were probably just as lost as me. After all, weren’t they all traveling somewhere? Suspended in the air on a coach bus that was shooting through air and wind toward another destination? To be in between, in the midst of decision or journey, is anywhere from a moment to days of disorientation. It is something that each of us has to take a turn at. Some losing and searching and stumbling upon must take place for people to live like humans.
I am there again, fishing the raisins around in my oatmeal and trying to decide on Ukraine or Seattle for the summer. Pulled in both directions, taught like a string, I feel ready to break, unlike my roommate, who seems to know exactly what she wants out of life. Last week I lost a pair of important keys and just about faded into the carpet with anxiety. It wasn’t until I stopped looking for them under the piles of dried leaves in the parking lot and between the couch cushions that they suddenly appeared on a desk. In plain sight.
Sitting in the living room, my Malt ‘O Meal balanced on my knee and one finger tapping the plaid armrest of the couch, I stare at the phone to think about the decision I need to make. I am in both worlds right now, one foot straddling each line, a side of me is beautifully lit and a side of me is penciled in, shadowed. I am lost and found, a place where everything is gathering.