So for the last couple nights, I have been dreaming about being stuck in traffic. The traffic on the 405 — the journey I used to experience every day, Monday thru Friday, on my way to work at the rehab center. I keep seeing the red brake lights, the advertisements on the sides of the road, and strangers in their cars, looking into an endless line of machinery as if they were looking into a blank television.
I couldn’t be happier that I’m not on that highway anymore, but, judging from my dreams, there is still a part of me on that road; there is still something in my mind that hasn’t allowed me to leave. The journey, the one I am on, isn’t always about the physical. Yes, I have found some jobs, and I’m going to sell some ad space for a newspaper, but there is still a part of me that feels stuck. My unconscious is still on that road.
Maybe it has something to do with my book. I started reading, “Running With Scissors,” as guidance for my revision. And I am inspired by the book, but staring at a revision, cutting 100 pages, and beginning a rewrite of a period of my life that was traumatic, sort of feels like staring into that traffic. I can’t quite get to where I want to go yet. I still need to work hard. And that feeling, well, it’s difficult.
When I was in college, I went to Guatemala with some of my other students. We spent a week there, and we lived with some Mayans. One day, we were going to climb a volcano, which was a 13,000 foot climb. People jump out of planes at 13,000. It seemed crazy. And I’ll never forget, driving through the night in the back of a Chevrolet truck, the stars blazing in the heavens, and my friend, Aldofo, singing while he tried to stay warm. We stepped out of the truck, and I looked at the volcano. It was bigger than any mountain I had ever seen. And I remember that first step, that first moment of beginning that journey, and the difficulty of knowing it was only the first step. Eventually, I climbed to the top of the volcano, and I stared out across Central America, a place so foreign and wonderful and beautiful it almost broke my heart.
That’s what I feel like with my book right now. That I’m beginning, again, to write about a world and memories that ripped me apart. And maybe I’m finally ready. This process, well, it’s a way for me to write my way out of the traffic and beyond the first step to see the awesome and titanic in my story. And the only way to grow, now, is to begin .