It wasn’t part of a grand plan. I didn’t do it to make a point. I didn’t do it cause I couldn’t afford more pants. It just happened; and I found out my life was not only simpler, but happier.
I’ve always enjoyed traveling with a backpack, but usually upon return, life would creep back to normal. However, the last 6 years have been a bit different. When I got divorced, which seems like ages ago now, I drove away from my previous life with an RV, two bikes, a laptop, and a closet full of clothes. I left everything else behind. I don’t know if I didn’t need them, or if I was in such a mess that I couldn’t think straight. The thing is, after approximately 24 hours, I felt a big sigh of relief, not because of relationships lost, but because of things lost. I felt liberated. Life had become childlike simple again.
One hundred years ago my great-grandpa boarded a ship from Puerto Rico to Cuba to start a better life. The Spanish-American war had ended, and the Americans that came to “liberate” us, had left the local economy in uhmmmm a challenging state. En route to Cuba, someone on the ship convinced him that going to Dominican Republic would be a better option, since non-blacks were the ruling class. So, on the eve of the first world war, with no marketable skills except being white (or “not as dark” in his case), my great grandpa moved to Dominican Republic. Initially as a ditch digger, but shortly after as an entrepreneur, drug dealer, and land owner. My family recounts a slightly different version, but that’s the general gist.
I’ve led a privileged life. I can’t complain. I’ve never felt racism’s cold shoulder. It either hasn’t been doled out my way, or if it has, I’ve been too stupid to notice. I’ve been lucky enough to work as a computer programmer, in a system that is as meritocratic as it gets; Where I’m effectively shielded by an agnostic screen, and when confronted, I’m perfectly capable of writing in ALL CAPS as well as the next guy.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t discrimination. I’m perfectly aware that women engineers have a slightly different story, and that ageism is real in my field, but *I* haven’t felt discriminated either at work, or in life. Until recently…
When I was a kid, my best friend’s sister, Jamarys, had a quote on her door: “In the silence of not doing, when you slowly begin to listen, then anything in life can be your guide“. The quote has stuck with me for a very long time, and after months of listening to the screams of silence, I can attest to that. There’s nothing like a few months alone to get your bearings. You may not figure out everything, but you’ll likely point your ship in the right direction— and that alone is worth the price of admission.
I knew I needed to get back to work weeks before my sabbatical was up. I don’t know how it happened, but I do remember when I realized it. It happened similarly to a cocaine addict’s sobriety relapse. One day he’s being bestowed a 10 year sobriety coin, and the next he’s doing coke lines off of a stripper’s back– not knowing exactly how or why it happened, but for a brief moment, realizing that– boy does it feel good.