Saturday, December 10, 2011

Up in the Clouds

Well, here I am, thirty-five thousand feet above the noble landscapes that took me twenty days to cross. Four hours and fifty-seven minutes, to almost get to the departing point of my adventure. Setting foot in the East Coast will inevitably bring memories of who I was six months ago, and the huge personal development I have undertaken since then. All traces of uncertainty are gone, and I am brimming with the confidence of someone who carves his fate. Far more disciplined, thanks to daily work that many a time has cost me bloody knuckles or deep cuts, overtime hours, sweat and many a stomach-deep feeling of uselessness.

Working for Burlingame Motors is, bar none, one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life. I sure had my moments of pain and struggle, but through constant self-examination I have earned great trust in myself, and the one of my coworkers. I focused on obtaining a new skill full of purpose, and, much like Art School, realized that by the time I had lost all fear of my tools, I was seeing the world with a different vision: as an infinitude of actions and reactions, as a world where everything physical is open to modification and improvement, a world that is no longer unreachable because I now know the basics of the way it works. Teamed with my visual mindset, my (picturesque) imagination exploded with possibilities, images and a strong intuition of why and how things function in a certain way… almost as a kind of X-Ray vision that permeates through mechanisms most people do not dare touch.

Towards December, I grew closer to my coworkers, especially René, who gradually transitioned from a quiet, unreadable Swiss gentleman to a wilder, more humorous European immigrant with his moments of nostalgia and craziness. Bit by bit he revealed some of his experiences, his great cooking, his outlook on the world coming from the Old Continent to the New, and his dreams of owning a bed and breakfast back home after his retirement –certainly happening in a couple of decades, I am sure.

Some of my favorite parts during my experience there were the errands. As soon as I was told to run to Palo Alto to deliver a speedometer, it became a ritual to grab the keys for our shop’s Mercedes 240D automatic, check the oil, roll down the window, and listen to the radio as I clatter calmly along Highway 101, with an occasional glance to the pretty girls of University Avenue in Stanford. That, and the experience of driving Mercedes-Benz from such different time periods and comparing, feeling how the spirit behind these machines has been more or less consistent, despite their technical changes. I crossed out of my list the Mercedes 300SL, the 190SL, and the 600 (both in the front and the back), as well as Rolls Royce and Bentley. My favorite, still, remained the beat-up Volvo P1800 sitting outside the shop: not only it was my first car (sitting in it again felt like I had been gone from home for a long time), but there is just no feeling like the magic of reviving a non-running car into a running one: it borders on an ecstatic miracle, almost as if I was breathing life back into an old friend.

And here I am, flying across the Midwest a few miles off Wichita, my next home ­–God knows for how long– to earn, enjoy and share the life I have always wanted to live. I hope with all my heart that this online series will be successful enough to allow me to travel internationally with it. I also wish for the best for the art and design collective that I am setting up in Manhattan… may it be fruitful and fun for my friends, and may it bring beauty, out-of-the-box thinking and common sense to the world again.

For all of you, readers out there, I wish for the happiest holidays and the most prosperous New Year, one full of hope, fearlessness and thought. Like I have mentioned many times before: it is the best of times because it is the worst of times, because there is barely anything to lose. There is nothing in these desperate times that would hinder us from taking a new direction in life, or trying that experience one knows will regret not doing. These times call for creativity, for freshness, for scratching the old and reworking your own existence, your own time, your own goals, your own community, your own world. This ability to start anew made the United States into the nation that dared to replace traditions for what really made sense at the time. Do not let us lose that ability to improvise, to respond creatively to the times: that is the reason I am here, and the reason I love this country more than my own. Happy 2012, everyone.

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