Neon Indian – Polish Girl
The older gentleman – my veteran fisherman – just sat down with the Jack Lemmon look-alike at the table in front of me. They really are adorable. Two tables away from them are two younger men, mid-30s, who are busy working; papers spread out across the café table; sipping their cafés; croissants in a basket in the middle of the table; discussing something serious.
The difference between the two tables makes me wonder, or rather think, about the fifty plus age difference between them; and between us. How much these older men have lived and seen; however, that isn’t to say that younger people cannot live full, fantastic, amazing lives by thirty. Or even thirteen for that matter.
By the age of thirteen, I had lived in the U.S.A., Malaysia, and the U.S.S.R., which had later become Russia. While I had a lifetime of lessons and experiences ahead of me – prep-school; going to Paris for the first time at fifteen; my first love; my first car; college; moving to L.A.; PAing; making my short film; experiencing a broken heart; moving to Paris – I had already experienced more than some adults.
By seven, I had almost been bit by a King Cobra in Kuala Lumpor and watched a Sheik guard kill it with a machette only a few feet away from me. I had cruised the ocean in order to picnic on secluded islands; roamed jungles with the awareness that if I got lost, I was dead. By twelve, I had hitchhiked through Moscow with a pack of cigarettes as payment; had run-ins with gypsy kids; run across a frozen pond in Helsinki; crossed the bridges over the Neva in St. Petersburg; danced in a disco in Yalta and been to Uzbekistan twice. I had also watched tanks roll down Leninsky Prospekt in August, 1991.
If Robert Frost’s “Two Roads” were literally marked with signs that read: ‘unknown adventure’ or ‘familiar and safe,’ would our decision be based on our childhoods? Perhaps our childhood experiences truly make us who we are. So when we jump out of our familial nest, spread our wings, and try to fly straight, we already know what direction we want to go. Some of us fly with the pack while others of us do NOT want to go south for winter. We spread our wings and go where the wind takes us. Maybe this European lifestyle, with this slight sense of being a “fish out of water,” is what feels right to me.
I might be wrong. I might be right. Someone can have the experiences I had and never want to step off their homeland’s soil again while other people watched National Geogroahic in the comfort of their homes and knew that when they grew up, they had to be a citizen of the World. This of course can include being married and having a family, although the latter lifestyle will put a very different strain on your family! When you are away from your family for long periods of time and have 16-hour work days, or worry about being kidnapped for political leverage, are bomb-swept on a daily basis, and being assassinated is a real fear, your stress-level is different than most. Regardless of where you live. I also have friends who are living what I would describe as being the ideal American Dream, even in today’s economy. While their lives are beautiful, I am not driven to have that; nor are they driven to lead my life.
Whatever our experiences, I do wonder what part our childhoods have in planting a seed within us that fuels us towards whatever lifestyle fills us with a sense of purpose. And I’m of course still left wondering: Was I born a blank slate or was this life always in my cards?