I don’t think I have the survival skills necessary to live in civilization, anymore. I’ve been back amongst the world of thumping bass and flashing lights and extended middle fingers for nearly a week now, and I can’t yet say that my acclimatization has been successful.
I run red lights. On purpose. Well, I don’t do it on purpose, but my brain does. I can sense it processing the decision, and I can feel that it’s the result of a flawed fight-or-flight response. My mind has decided that yellow lights are not worth hanging around and fighting, and instead it’s best to get as far away as quickly as possible. Yellow lights are not grizzly bears, the brain says. If you run they will not chase you down as prey. Yellow lights will not shred you into ribbons. Do not waste time standing your ground against this foe.
The trouble being, of course, that yellow lights are rarely yellow for long. They quickly turn into red lights, which are a different beast entirely.
Also, shopping is weird. I typically wander around stores in a daze until something catches my attention, and then I’ll stare at it for a couple minutes. Now, products that I am actually interested in buying rarely grab me… most of the time it’s a bookcase or a cooler or a prepaid phone card. Sometimes it’s a metal hatch in the floor. Extra points if it’s something shiny.
When I finally zero in on something I actually want to buy, it becomes a whole new ordeal. At Target I almost bought two of the same shirt, and only caught myself at the last minute in the checkout lane. By the time I got home I was wishing I had bought both of them anyway. What if something happens to one of them? What if I want to use one for trail and the other for camp? What if I become rich and I want to use it to wipe bugs off my car?
Another problem is feeding myself, mostly that I forget to do it. This isn’t a good thing, seeing as how I lost 15 pounds over the summer and I didn’t have much meat on me to begin with. The problem is that I’ve gone from stomping around the world all day with a fifty pound backpack, to hardly doing anything at all. With this sudden onslaught of inactivity I don’t really get hungry anymore, but I still get grouchy. The grouchiness goes away when I eat food, so I find myself eating only as a means to regulate my mood.
As far as meals go, I am hopelessly ADD. I will put on a pot of tea and crack open a Pepsi two minutes later. When the teapot whistles I can’t figure out what the hell that awful sound is. I lost a banana somewhere in the house the other day. I was trying to eat it while doing other things, and I think it ended up going through the washing machine.
I have an established routine after breakfast, too. The cereal goes in the refrigerator, the milk goes in the cupboard, and the toast gets rinsed off in the sink for some reason.
So yes, it seems like I have a long ways to go before I will be a well-adjusted, productive member of society once again. Fortunately, even with all the troubles with integrating myself back into modern life, I can still make one hell of a martini.