Side effects may include the following:

Written by marissaherrmann on January 1st, 2011

I was in a coma.

I’ve woken up from a three-month-long dream.

Someone else’s three-month-long dream.

It was quite real, I have the most ridiculous tan-lines to prove it.

My hair grew while I slept. It too has been marked by the sun. Streaked, ropey, ends split like forked roads.

I pedal in my sleep. I hear my knees pop and crack like my bike did when I would shift gears, climbing a bitch of a hill.

My chest aches, but not in the way my lungs would burn for more oxygen in the mountains. Instead it aches with a mild case of depression as I shuffle around a daily life.
New York City. Somewhat homeless. Working constantly so I don’t have to think too much.

People are excited to see us again. They want to know everything. Where am I supposed to start? Do they really want to hear all the stories? Usually not. They ask how it was and all I can do is lie and say “amazing”.  How can I sum up a three-month adventure in one word?  An adventure that is at once a memory I nearly don’t believe and also, a physical sensation. Not quite homesickness or nostalgia. Rather, it’s a panicked, aching, racing of the heart similar to the head rush of new love affairs.
If only I could just give a shit-eating-grin to a friend and they could instantly know the damp chill of flying down the west side of the Cascade Mountains. Tears streaming out of the corners of your eyes while you howl and yip like a coyote.
Maybe when I share a subway seat with a stranger, they would suddenly smell the sooty smoke of a cooling camp stove that has just been turned off. This person, how ever, is confused by the Pavlovian reaction of their mouth watering, for a meal is about to start.
What if I were to hug a curious family member and they could feel the high grass poking them in the thighs as they hide in the roadside weeds to take a leak? Does adventure peeing really translate into words? Furthermore, is it even healthy to fondly recall that sensation? Clinging on to it like a childhood memory? What the hell is wrong with me…

Then again, I suppose “amazing” is a more socially acceptable answer…as opposed to “It was fucking great! Here, grab my ass! It’s as solid as a rock!”

The next common question is “Sooo…how are you adjusting?”
I’m not really sure how to answer this inquisition of genuine concern either. The best comparison I have come up with is that I am like a prize goldfish from the carnival. I remember when my dad would buy a new fish for his aquarium, and it would dart around in its puffy plastic bag. This bag floated like a bubble on top of the water in the tank, the future home of this new fish, for at least an hour before he dumped the little fucker in.

“Dad? Why do you do that?”
“You have to let the water temperature in the bag adjust to the water temperature in the tank.”
“Oh. Why?”
“It’s like jumping into a cold swimming pool. He might go into shock. He might die.”
And then the cherry of his tiparillo cigar melted through the plastic bag and the fish poured out.

I think I’m in the “plastic bag phase” of adjusting.
I am darting anxiously through the small space of the plastic bag as it floats on top of my future. I can see the fake seaweed and the plastic diver I’m probably going to have to learn to get along with. I can see that it still might be a little while before the water temperature has equalized and I can get started on living.
I can also see that there is the potential for boredom in this future. The plastic diver doesn’t talk much and the fake seaweed doesn’t taste so good.
not when you’ve been feasting on the wild weeds of adventure and reckless abandon.

This, is adventure withdrawal.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jeff Vallee says:

    Great post! So relatable and well written.

  2. Peter C. says:

    This is awsome. Very Well Put.

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