Renee and George

Renee and George met in the most usual of unusual ways. Renee was seeking a baby sitter for a friend, she called the phone number from a flyer for a house painter. She didn’t know she’d made the mix up of course. Coincidentally the house painter flyer was under the baby sitter flyer, but the painter’s phone numbers appeared to be part of the baby sitter flyer. When Renee called, George answered, they had a very silly conversation. Thanks to her openness, propensity for making jokes, and mild caution with strangers; combined with his entertainment from the mistake she’d made, as well as his kindness and aloof yet conversational tone, their initial meeting on the phone felt more like a conversation between long lost friends who didn’t miss a beat. Somehow, through a series of friendly comments, laughter, and awkwardness, she agreed to meet when he asked her to come by his studio.

After a couple encounters they were seeing each other regularly, edging closer and forming lives that surrounded around one life together. Both independent thoughtful and self aware, but seemingly in a place to rediscover the world, it was a good dyad of a team to take on the challenges of life. They started making small adventures together. To a coffee shop, then to a market, soon new countries, and life paths all together. Along the way doors opened, as if an orb of universal acceptance in all parts of nature followed them around, making seemingly ridiculous or just impossible feats happen. Together Renee and George felt pulls from curious things around them, and without concern approached, sometimes to silly dead ends, at others, to secret gardens tucked away from society. Their lives together, it seemed, were a bit of a fairy tale, or new age rendition of some self discovery book.

Years passed, and what began as a collection of stories, keep sakes, and photos from their adventures making a life together, making friends, and exploring the world around, slowly evolved into their very own family run business & network. The world was short on positive outlook and edgy yet approachable things to do in life, and the orb that surrounded their interest in life extended to the image it projected out to others hungry for a better side in life, of which Renee and George had no shortage of.

Soon friends from all around would connect by the wheel hub that was R&G. An elaborate web of friends, artists, business people, educators, health specialists, town farmers & laborers kept in touch with the couple and friends they made through the couple, exchanging information, planning gatherings, or bartering goods, one world treasure, or story, or whimsical creation for another. Some trades were simply for food and supplies to nourish, others were to throw parties.

Parties were a central part of their ever growing circle of friends. Starting as a place for meeting and sharing, the parties provided a circle for enjoying each others company and tales of life. Renee and George enjoyed other people and as much as they enjoyed privacy and peace. And for a time the music, food, and community through all the socializing was good. But soon came a time when first George, but soon Renee too felt they were becoming distracted. Spending so much time connecting different people, and preparing for the massive entertainment of the parties, neither of them had much time left for the original spontaneous things that happened to them in the early times, when each day brought a new experience unknown and unexpected.

It seemed even the orb of open doors and interest was gone too. Now instead they had reputation, incredible back stock of creations, food, wine, and land to explore for days. But so much of it required an eye, some schedule or knowledge of the coming weather and events & trades in the upcoming weeks. No more could Renee and George walk out the door and find themselves in a new strangers home learning of the great past in their newly discovered province or state land.

With little time R&D decided to head off, without more than some snacks and light sweaters, they departed for the unknown. A little rough around the edges, and comfortable with the easiness of the friends they’d had left behind, at first it wasn’t smooth going. Meeting new strangers, and trying to agree on a story to tell, both of them were disoriented, but excited at the misadventures they were already finding. Mornings started with sore backs from unfamiliar sleeping places. Odd digestion problems as a result of eating new yet shockingly fresh food. It seems even the wealth of their food supplies had removed them from the joy of eating things as they came, rather than when it was time to eat again.

It wasn’t long before energy was coming back. George smiled easier, expected less. Renee formed new interests bizarre yet cute and adorable to George. And she was making him laugh. He remembered the phone call when he explained to the sweet and friendly voice on the line that he wasn’t sure if she wanted him to paint a child, or the room for the child, he may be able to do both; but she would be nice to offer him a beer while he did it, and he’d enjoy the company too. The laughter the two strangers had on that call, the feeling that despite speaking to a stranger, anything that came to mind would be ok to say. George felt young again. Renee kissed him like they had kissed before too.

Renee quickly made George laugh. The crusty shackles of the amazing little world they’d created was gone. When the time finally came that they couldn’t remember the days of the week anymore. That the list of experiences, surprises, and new friends they made trailed off in their memories. When the places they been couldn’t be spoken in a straight sentence without a scratch of the head, and admittance that there were some details that had been forgotten already. They knew it was time to go home.

Even the idea of home was strange by then. Why not start again? George suggested. Find a new place, a new line of life. Fortunately the joker of the two was also the more level headed. “Because”, Renee explained to her now life partner. “Going home is our next adventure”. She was right, and Geo (as she now called her life partner) knew it. It all made sense to him. As keeping the interests and coincidences of their days together was the new challenge. Before they’d left home, they had gotten lazy and allowed the comforts and convenience around them in their lives and home, to solidify the joints of their thoughts and bones and daily needs with each other and the friends they stayed in touch with. To have to go somewhere to find their way again, was just as much a crusty thought, as it was to fall into a boring habit of seeing the same people and doing the same things day after day.

So they went home, returning to their old friends and acquaintances and indeed found other parties and interesting folks had since come to their old town and taken over the roll of being the center of attention. Sure enough, there were new ways needed to make a new place in the world where their old lives had once been. But they made sure to never get too comfortable, to avoid resigning to laziness too much. Instead treating their days like lottery tickets. Not worried, if say, the phone number for a pet sitter was a house painter or anything else for that matter. Being sure to laugh and speak freely, and to smile and kiss, life was theirs and with every moment was a new chance to fall and get back up together.

 

Comfort and Heroin – part I

Daniel got a nice job and worked his way up the ranks.

He bought a nice home, has a lifestyle and great circle of friends with whom he has a certain cache of routines; meals, vacations, hobbies. He shaped out that picture perfect life.

It had taken (what seemed like) a lifetime to get there. In some cases the victories came quickly. Either way, at a certain point, he realized he felt good about where he was.

Maybe the remaining goals were smaller than those already achieved. But the warm feeling had set in. The effort needed to get things done at work had become smaller. Greater rewards started coming more easily. All that stuff he did to get where he was continued to pay off, each one a meteor of success with a tail that stretched endlessly. His CV was a track record that attracted recruiters far and wide for amazing career changing opportunities – which he humbly turned away.

At parties he could list a couple of his past titles and the point was clear, he’d made it. And why list his own track record? Other people told stories about him that echoed respect and fondness better than he could.

Without seeing it happen, there was this great big positive energy to ride on, and now it was all without doing anything. He was intoxicated. But at the same time, somehow something had slipped away ever so slightly.

Looking back at the challenges he’d fought through, the feeling they gave him were almost more exciting than the life they brought to his door. Things really had gotten easier, and with them, these comforts which sort of transformed into medals of honor.

In some cases the medals were like possessions, the relationships, the future plans, they almost became anchors. Things that couldn’t be moved easily , if at all – not without the proverbial pain of ripping off a band-aid.

As comfort set in, the landscape of ambition transformed, from hopes and dreams to strive for, to tangible pieces of his life sitting on the shelf for all to gaze upon, and something had gotten lost.

One day Daniel realized it was those adventures which got him where he was that he missed the most, he wanted them again. The dopamine may have been all that was laying under those moments to give him a rose tinted glass to look back through, the primitive neurological programming of positive reinforcement for getting off his ass and forming a shelter with safe surroundings to pass along his genes. All the same the rewards that came at the moment of putting in that effort, and the stories they created were the greatest moments in his life. The achievements which now sat around, were not so much, and in fact they had weight and required maintenance. The routines, relationships, home, possessions; it almost scared him to think about letting go of them or dismantling the solid life he had in order to make new great moments.

He was bored.

The uneasiness frightened Daniel, it kept him up at night. Normally a heavy sleeper (something Micah was truly grateful for), he now laid in bed for hours sometimes wondering how to get back to the heyday of kicking ass. He was barely middle-aged but already feeling stale, the static-ness felt like excess weight, like stickiness. Pulling him back towards his bed, or dining table. A spare tire forming around his midsection, getting heavier by the day. He no longer felt hungry, ever. Always eating as it was that time, or there was another dinner party to go to. Cocktails weren’t treasures to enjoy, they were an assortment of tastes he’d once discovered and delighted, which also came with symbol of status. The alcohol and calories had heavier implications than the joy of the experience and was starting to despise them.

Unsure of where to go, or what to do with all his belongings, how to explain to all of his friends what was happening, he started to consolidate.

At first it was slow, he would go through the garage late at night, pulling out boxes of old things, keepsakes and memories which were once hard to throw away, but now the thought of getting rid of them made him feel lighter. With relationships, he didn’t want to cut off anyone, and his head was so clouded he didn’t trust his judgement to hone in on those most important, so instead he started to distance, instead of actively connecting and staying in touch with the circle of friends and colleagues around him, now he waited. When his phone would ring, or an email came in, he would respond, welcoming social life, but not pushing it forward anymore.

He took a new job, one that wouldn’t require a car, and so he sold his car. The job wasn’t very good so he saved up and put in his notice. From now on, like his friends, he would only take work he wanted to do, instead of always being the proactive team member confident a crappy project could be made great.

He moved twice in one year, each time selling more of his furniture, finding smaller and smaller apartments, until his living space was so tiny he could barely even have a table and sofa in the living spaces. All the fancy home decor that he’d bought from show rooms and antique markets were gone now.

As his property footprint became smaller, something started to change. His connection to some people started to diminish. The way he looked at their things and clothing had less of an affect. Feeling more like an observer than a participant; when conversations nearby included raves about new restaurants or a the latest night spots to grab a drink, he felt his interest was more from an anthropological perspective than a community perspective. Trying yet another cocktail with a slight variation at an inflated price didn’t have the same gravity it once had.

He was becoming free.

Months went by, Daniel put all his things into storage and moved to Europe. He focused on connecting with the locals, seeing how they lived, and what brought them joy. There were still bars and parties and eager cliques of socialites queuing up at the club on the corners after dinner, but

 

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To be continued