Out Of Place

I’m sitting here half-working from the Beehive Coffee House on the South Side of Pittsburgh. I am out of place here amongst the hipsters and the too-carefully-honed bohemian aesthetic. The art for sale on the walls is the kind I like — makes me want to take out my pens and play around. Coffee’s okay. People are smoking. A boisterous D&D game going on a few tables behind me. Their unabashed geekitude in the midst of the hiply pierced eyebrow and inked-neck crowd makes me and my Christian T-shirt feel not so incredibly out of place.

But I am out of place. I am not home. My sense of dislocation is like a dull ache that can be diluted by activity but never dispersed completely. I know that I cannot get out of town earlier than my scheduled flight tomorrow. I know that my wife is having a stressful week without me, the kids miss me and are acting out, and I am simply not there. During the day I am busy with work and so I do not notice, but at night in the room, reading internet news and flipping through hotel cable channels, nothing holds my interest. Everything feels empty.

Two large, darkly dressed ladies walk up to me and query, “Nano?” Apparently I look like I am set for a NaNoWriMo meeting. I look like a blogger. Guys with ill-advised facial hair and even worse posture shuffle by me to kibitz with the Palladins and Dwarfs hooting it up in the imaginary dungeon behind me.

I am sitting here with a belly full of too much Lebanese food. Papers about process architecture and Malaysian agriculture scattered around me with torn up junk mail and a pile of unused art supplies, patiently waiting for me to finish whatever I think I need to finish before I am freed up to play. I subtract an hour from the time on my cell phone and realize it’s another hour and a half before I can call and pray with the kids for bedtime.

It occurs to me that sitting in a hipster haven saying Hail Marys into a cell phone might stand out a bit. But the dude with the ponytail in front of me is knitting a purple scarf, so what the Hell.

I wandered through the Mattress Factory before making the puzzling cross town trip to the South Side involving three bridges and the same tunnel twice. From room to room at the Mattress Factory I had to envy the focus and certainty of purpose that comes with filling a whole room with art that you will just dismantle in a few short months. You got to have a vision and know what you’re doing. Certainty of purpose and focus are what I am lacking. What am I doing here? Am I trying to be a hipster? The art on the walls is no better than what I do, but it’s Big. On Big canvases. Bold and assertive splotches and squggles. I do splotches and squiggles, but don’t have the certainty of purpose to do it on a big ass canvas and put a $1000 price tag on it. I play at art. Timidly.

I feel like I am playing too at being a consultant. My heart’s not in it. I don’t want to travel. And though I am a social person, I hate networking. I have only a few of the Habits Of A Successful Person. I don’t give a damn Who Moved My Cheese.

I just want to go home. And the hours aren’t moving fast enough.

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