wire-omarIf you ever want to feel what it’s like to be completely on your own, I suggest you go traveling solo for an extended period of time. In one word, I’d describe the feeling as “weinly,” uh, which sounds a lot sicker (for once) than what I’m really trying to say here.

“Weinly,” as I’ll go ahead and define it is a mash-up of weird and lonely. But don’t be fooled. While lonely usually has a negative context, in this case, when combined with the word “weird,” its definition is more manic. That is, sometimes I’ll be walking along with a giant smile on my face, just enjoying the fact that I have two legs that can take me to any cool place on the face of the Earth I feel like going. But then sometimes I’ll be sitting down to eat something that’s probably covered in mayonnaise when suddenly I’ll feel this bizarre wave of sadness. And not just because I’m being forced to eat more mayonnaise, as embarrassingly, in what seems like a throwback to Moscow 2003, I’m really beginning to love this stuff again…

But controversial condiments aside, during these sad-lonely times I always find myself looking around hoping to find someone else there sharing these experiences with me (not all of which have to do with mayonnaise, mind you). For instance, last week I watched the sunset over some rocks on the edge of Lake Villarrica in Pucón. Alone. Sure, it was lovely (and probably dangerous, as it’s probably not healthy to stare at the sun for an hour — I got there early), but at the same time, it was a bit depressing. It was such a beautiful moment, but I felt it could’ve been even more beautiful if I had some others there to share it with. Or at least someone else to look at the cloud formations and decide if what I was seeing really was Mickey Mouse knocking over a bowling pin while trying to make out with a hamster…

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Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a totally pathetic freak — I’ve been meeting people here and there along the way, some of whom I know I’ll definitely keep in contact with (and not just through the social pasture known as Facebook). But inevitably, we’re all going our separate ways. And my way, well, at least until mid-December, is all on my own. I wake up alone, I decide what to do with my day alone, I eat alone, I go to bed alone, although I’m alternatively with Norm Coleman or Vladimir Putin in my mind…

Um…

But honestly, this whole vagrant hobo thing is much more taxing on me than I originally thought it would be. In fact, since I’m sort of a definitional introvert, I thought this would be really easy. I’d have time to think, ponder, really get to know myself. But the thing is, thinking is hard (duh), and really, after 30 years of doing what I want, when I want, I’m pretty sure I know myself by now. I don’t need all this time to myself. More importantly, I don’t want it. I miss the drama of compromise. I miss being able to blame someone else if something goes wrong. Most of all, I miss having an automatic audience for my hilarious quips about life on the road.

But I suppose that’s what the Internet is for. Skype, this blog, email — they’re the few e-strings holding me up from falling into a vortex of complete reclusiveness. More importantly, they’re my only connection to my narcissistic need to constantly have attention. When you’re living here or there for only a few weeks or days at a time, it’s hard to find those constants who can tell you how awesome you are or how necessary you are to their lives. When people come and go, they’re anonymous. They’re good for trading travel tips over a mayotini (I’ve got a patent out on that, by the way). But real friendships and relationships take time to build. Like I said, I’ve met countless people along the way, but probably managed to only cultivate two or three true friendships out of the bunch — and those were either people I hung out with in Santiago on a regular basis or they’re 80 and they were my host grandmother. But now that I’m a non-smelly version of a hippie backpacker, I’m pretty sure the German couple I met yesterday who told me where to stay in Iquique won’t remember me tomorrow. In fact, besides that we’re both traveling for indefinite amounts of time, they really don’t know anything about me that would make me memorable, nor do I about them. We’re all simply transient caricatures to each other.

Which is why I’ve really come to appreciate the Internet like an actual human being. It knows me, which allows you to know me (well, at least e-know me). More importantly, it keeps me in touch with my family and friends who keep me from going all Ted Kaczynski (minus the mail-bombs) on your asses. Being so damn dependent on the Internet may sound pathetic, but considering it’s really the only constant in my life right now, I don’t think I have much of a choice. Gotta keep the darker side of weinliness in check.

And especially today, as I think some sort of cerdo flu may have sneaked its way into my organism. Which means, Internet, right now, as I lay in this spongy bed sweating under with too many mismatched blankets, I’m depending on you even more to keep me from going absolutely nuts. Now, if only the Internet could make me chicken soup…slathered in mayonnaise…

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