So, are you EXCITED?
People keep asking me if I'm "excited" about my upcoming trip to Southeast Asia.
If they know me well, like my dear old friend Kelly, I assume they're teasing me, because surely they already know I hate that kind of question—right? And if they don't know me well, like Collette, the bartender at Monty's Krown up the street who also loves to travel and most definitely is EXCITED about her upcoming trip to India, well, then I have to kind of fake it:
"Yes, OF COURSE I'm excited."
But actually I don't operate that way. I'm not one of those people who gets giddy with anticipation. That's Allison's department. I'm more the type to wonder who the first person who said "giddy with anticipation" was (Shakespeare? probably Shakespeare)—and then wonder, By the way, what is this feeling, "giddiness," anyway?
I believe I felt something like giddiness one time, back in 2007. I was walking down the street in Brooklyn, and instead of going straight home after work, I decided to make a U-turn and stop off at the liquor store for a bottle of Cutty Sark. The idea was so appealing that I nearly leapt in the air and broke into a sprint.
Not long after that, I quit drinking for three years.
When Kelly asked me "ARE YOU EXCITED?"—just like that, in all caps, for maximum jest at my expense—I replied flatly, "I get excited when I'm actually doing the thing."
Her reply of "TMI" was also a little fun at my expense, but I'm trying to talk about something serious here:
Why don't I have feelings?
No, wait, that's not quite right. I'm kidding, obviously. I do HAVE feelings—right, I must?—but not the ability to anticipate them. At least not "excitement." That's something reserved for the moment itself, for the thing that is exciting, whatever it is.
If I peer into the future—tentatively, nervously into the unknown—if I allow myself to "anticipate" something, mainly what I feel is dread. I WORRY about the future, about all the things large and small that might go wrong. I do not whoop with excitement about its potential. To do so would be unseemly.
I am not a dog or a small child.
Better, I say, to remain circumspect.
"Yes, I am looking forward to it."
That is a much more sensible attitude, and I told Kelly this as well, so that she wouldn't think I've turned into a totally joyless wretch (yet!)—although, as I have already admitted, that statement isn't really true either, because mainly what "looking forward" does, if I try it, is produce a sensation of dread.
Perhaps that's why I don't do much planning when it comes to travel. I'd get too bogged down, worrying about all the little details. Just thinking about what shoes to bring, or whether or not I'm going to want to wear jeans, is enough to make me completely shut down.
Indeed, much of my adult life—my maturation as a person (if I may deign to call myself either mature or a person)—has been about learning NOT to look forward so much, not to anticipate things. The future doesn't necessarily go the way you think it will, so having strong feelings about it—whether giddy anticipation or inexplicable dread—is, in a sense, futile.
It's a waste of time.
(I have this voice in my head shouting at me now, "BUT HOW CAN TIME BE WASTED?"—like perhaps there is something illogical about this statement. Time is neutral, after all, it passes regardless of what one "does" with it, all experiences are potentially valuable, even just staring at the wall, etc., etc., etc. But that's a consideration for another day.)
This isn't to say I'm one of those "live in the moment" people either. I've always found that to be remarkably hard to do. My personality is essentially forward-looking, which is why it's so important to remain circumspect, as I said—or even ambivalent.
So, am I excited about going to Southeast Asia?
No. I'm not.
But I will be when I get there.