The more I pursue what I deem meaningful, the more my collection of situations and people I can feign interest in being around grows. My ability to shoot the shit with strangers is diminishing, not out of lack of shit-shooting skills but out of a reluctance to spend my often limited energy in ways that won’t increase it.
Last night I went out with a group of hard-drinking Brits, who were all very kind and fun to be around. When I was younger I’d make fast friends with anyone I met traveling but now I find myself more content observing and in doing so, often giving off the impression of not being totally with it. This outsiderness, feeling not committed to any one person or group, usually comes from just the opposite, from being present and being more secure in my values and needs. I feel less of an attachment to people I don’t have a deep connection with, and while I’d like to practice my ability to connect I don’t desire to shapeshift like I used to so readily.
Heading back to the hostel on a narrow twisting road through Sorrento surrounded by high stone walls and creeping vines, a railway worker and I started talking about the symbols in the graffiti around us. Swastikas. Penises. Hearts. He loved symbolism, he said. We got close, but not deep enough. I didn’t push it. I wondered aloud about how to get into the valley deep below us with its abandoned paper mills.
We found two fresh cigarettes placed side by side on the road and smoked them, a last-ditch offering to connect on the basis of synchronized inhales and exhales.