I’m writing this as I sit at my favorite juice spot near my apartment in East Austin. I biked here on a newly acquired Craigslist purchase: a 1970s French racing bike that teeters on the edge of off-white and yellow. One of the brakes along the handlebar is broken — completely unscrewed and useless in case I need to make an unexpected stop, complete with gears that shift a good 30 seconds too late — after I’ve already failed to make it up the hill.
I’ve been biking here every day. I don’t spend much time in my apartment. I’m too restless to sit still. I spend my time alone along the river, at my pool, outside coffee shops sitting in the blazing heat, taking my shoes off, burying my feet in the gravel.
Even when I’m with others, I find myself wandering off — to a hidden corner along the landscape or within my own mind.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated being alone. Even when sharing a home with a significant other, I hated when he drifted into the other room, the stucco walls acting as a barricade, as if his love could no longer reach me when it wasn’t in sight. The insignificant distance felt like a personal betrayal.
Now more than ever, I crave solitude. I feel depleted around large groups. The lighthearted chit-chat, constant scrolling through their phones, failed attempts at Internet dating. It tears at me.
I choose to write every day instead so I can feel like myself again.
Writing reminds me of when I was a little girl, keeping notecards by my bed, constantly wanting to venture off alone so I could have conversations with myself along the page.
As I grew older, I stopped creating for me. Perhaps it’s because little girls are told they’re only worth something if they find love. That they need the validation of others to be great. Over the years, I lost sight of my art. I lost sight of the world through my lens. I began seeing the world through the lens of new lovers, of more talented friends, of higher ups.
I’ve felt homesick lately.
I miss the ocean, biking along the boardwalk with a light buzz in the late evening — the dimly lit lights guiding me home, the way my hair curled just at the mere scent of the salt water in the air.
I’m nostalgic for the little thing. My old home along the Jersey Shore — a place I left after a bad breakup. I miss the scent of salt water in the air, the traditional white picket fence surrounding the backyard, the sound of the garage door opening at 3 a.m., knowing exactly who it was — a lover coming to stay over at the end of a late night shift. I miss the comfort, the familiarity.
For the start of all things good.
For the feeling of knowing, “This is the beginning.”
I’m homesick for firsts.
First homes. First jobs. First love. First heartbreak. First successes.
We always romanticize our firsts.
But I find comfort in new beginnings. I find comfort in silent bike rides with friends I haven’t seen in two years.
I find comfort in the intense heat, how I feel like I’m shedding a layer of myself with each bead of sweat.
I find comfort in anonymity; it’s the chance to explore a city and myself without the burden of the past following me around with judging eyes.
I find comfort in talking to a new friend who feels like an old one.
I find comfort in a coworker surprising me with a copy of a book she thought I might like.
I find comfort in the taste of vegan blueberry pancakes hitting my tongue…comfort in the guy’s smile who served them to me.
I am homesick for who I used to be.
Yet, I weirdly feel more myself than ever. I’m grasping for it, and crumbling at the same time.
But like an old bike with a fading aesthetic and slow changing gears — like the wheels that spin in our head, taking us from the past to the future without ever being in the present — all that’s needed is a fine tune up.
Author: Elizabeth Dennerlein
Author Bio: My name is Liz Dennerlein and I’m based in Austin, Texas. I just moved here from the Jersey Shore, where I used to write as a features reporter for the Asbury Park Press. I now work as a freelance writer/videographer. I love new adventures, meeting new faces and telling stories.
Link to social media or website: Twitter @lizdennerlein