Finally, an opportunity to properly write. Doug and I are on our plane from Auckland to Perth, currently still sitting at the gate. We’re late departing. Something about unplanned maintenance.
It’s hard to know where to start regarding all that’s happened over the past several days, so I’ll just begin with leaving my bike with a friend in L.A. I have a debt of gratitude to him for helping me out with that last minute. My day would have been MUCH, MUCH more complicated and stressful had he not, and it was already plenty of that enough. Rain on and off all the day long was the biggest culprit, but there was also a certain amount of stress in not being showered for two days, and continuing to schlep around in the same unwashed clothes for two weeks. The stink of yourself; the dirty crumpled look and feel of your clothes; and the oily, unwashed feel of your hair, scalp, and skin all become a heavy weight—though in reality one that is greater mentally than physically. But with all things the mental aspect is always more difficult than any sort of physical struggle, because the physical struggle is really just a manifestation of the mind. Of course when one is out in society, smelly and dirty but attempting to hold to some level of social standards in order to maintain one’s dignity (not that one has to abide by society’s standards in order to maintain his/her dignity) this can become a huge mental struggle, and so my thoughts about my then current state and how I imagined I was regarded by society (particularly by that society in the area I found myself pedaling my bike, shopping around for a hiking pack) now has me thinking and wondering how the truly destitute and homeless must feel themselves to be. Mere animals. Insects. Subhuman. Not worth the regard they ask us to pay them. So how can one expect them to have the confidence to look for employment anywhere? When one has lived in a state of hopelessness for so long, when one is wallowing in the quagmire of misery and apathy, how can it be expected they he might just go about filling out applications for employment like anyone else? When they walk into a shop or restaurant in dirty, stained clothes that hang on them like the haggard, tired expression of a half-starved face, stinking like they just climbed out of a dumpster, or like they’ve been living in the same set of underwear for weeks, who will hire them? Well anyway, I cycled around thirty miles in the wet in order to get a pack to migrate certain things into, and to leave my bike with Danny at the motorcycle shop he works at.
Now I’m in this plane soaring above the clouds, the sun very nearly set just ahead of us, the moon reflected in the wing—a tiny, yellow smudge amidst the blueish darkening of the world—and Doug, eyes shut beside me. Exhausted Doug with a blanket thrown over his lap, his hands folded, peaceful beneath its fleecy warmth.
Today was mostly spent walking a bit around the city of Auckland, as we opted for an eleven hour layover as opposed to the two, drinking coffee, eating and simply observing the city and its people. A most enjoyable way to spend the day I thought, though Doug’s overall exhaustion seemed to have got the better of him.
Very little else happened. Anything properly worth writing about at least. And I’m much too tired to bother. I setup an AirBnB for the next week in South Perth, and took a shower.
Truly it would have been wonderful if something of account occurred over our time in town and at the airport, but nothing did. We existed, in a bit of a state of suspended animation, as humans so often do between times. Doug does have the type of personality which compels him to talk to just about anybody about anything, though. And while I won’t go so far to say it’s something I missed about not being around him, I do have an appreciation and fondness for it, for often it leads to amusing moments. Moments of no great consequence, but significant in their own small ways, like an odd bit of grammar or poetry thrown in amongst the general sameness of a paragraph. He’s always drawing a new character into the coterie of our own little band of merry, or not-merry, makers. All these NPCs, so to speak, become important characters, people with meaning, in this game of his. And that’s really the thing! He gives them, through the agency of his actions, his desire to engage with them, importance, significance, value, more so I believe than most, and certainly moreso than anyone else I have met. And that I think is one of his great virtues.