When I was young, I was unfortunately taught to expect a certain bargain out of life. “Work hard,” they told me, “be nice to others, always do your best, and you’ll be rewarded. Good things will come your way.” Of course it isn’t true. There is no bargain to be had with life, no contract you can sign that will remove the uncertainties, the unsatisfactoriness, and the occassional crippling blow.
The playa is different. Last year
, the playa made a bargain with me: “Go back out there into that crazy, hardhearted, messed-up world, and survive it for just another year. Get through twelve more months of all that frightful bullshit, and you’ll get to come back here. You’ll get to come back home.”
I have held up my end of the bargain. I have endured another year. I have triumphed over the poisonous air of my daily commute, the noxious environment of the corporate workplace, the frightened and fragile egos of the dating “scene,” the overarching discourteousness and snide cynicism that are the hallmarks of a society adrift, the grey mental clouds that blow in out of nowhere and convince me that it will never get any better than this — never any less confusing, never any less lonely, never any less meaningless. I have changed my oil regularly and have waited patiently for the next available customer service representative. Again and again I have risen, showered, dressed, and shuffled off to another day, just like the one before.
And today, driving over the bridge into another workday, wanting desperately to feel like a live human being, it hit me: One week from now, from this exact instant,
I thought, I’ll be home again
. That lovely idea has been with me ever since, and I’m having to work hard to hold back tears of joy and anticipation. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so excited to go anywhere, for any reason. In less than a week, I’ll be driving through that unimaginably unlikely gateway, and some beautiful human being will smile, take my ticket, and say to me, “Welcome home.”