#1- the dérive: so what if i have nowhere to go

i have obsessed over the idea of a dérive for years now. since my performance art class at columbia college, chicago to be exact. it was then that the questions of social appropriateness and responsibility, expectations and conveniences really became an obsession. a dérive would be a perfect, private exploration and exploitation of social normality. what is that exactly? normal?

normal (he actually used that word in context to mine and my partner’s roaming)- according to the police in michigan on july 7, 2007 was “having a destination”. i have since developed travel panic; obsessive thoughts over where i’m supposed to be going, am going and why.

from wikipedia: in situationist texts, a dérive is an attempt at analysis of the totality of everyday life, through the passive movement through space. It is translated as drift.

that’s all we were doing that night.

thoughts before the incident (so it shall be called) about a dérive revolved around the implicit need for it to be spontaneous, less it be a contradiction if it were planned and that i simply never seemed to have the necessary amount of tyme i conjured i needed.

following the incident it became a point i had to prove. if to no one else but myself.

all this in mind, the tyme was right. the perfect inspiration for just doing it. the qualifying eraser of any reason not to- 52 adventures. i’ll show you ignorant michigan cops what’s normal!

it was about a week to the date and i flip-flopped repeatedly. “i’m going.” “i’m not.” “i can.” “i can’t.” “where am i going?” the fears of being questioned about where i was going by anyone were mortifying. how could i explain? i had no destination. a little tiny voice kept saying “you don’t have to”. don’t have to what- explain? don’t have to go?

i might be judged. if i don’t go, i won’t know for sure that i will be judged. at least again.

it is january 1st. the chosen day. deep breath, packed bag headed to the lakefront for one last shot of inspiration. here i am a sponge to the lack of obligation to societal normalcy by the polar bear plungers… off i go to nowhere!

i was shaking in the car on the way to the train station where my journey was to begin. not from the cold but from those nagging thoughts resurfacing. i decided to get a “warm up” to going nowhere by randomly making my way to a train by car following the streams of traffic, etc.

i found horses! beautiful, cold, sad looking horses, in the middle of the city. i stopped, put the car in park leaving it running, got out. i walked over to a white horse who seemed eager to greet me at the fence that looked barely tall enough to keep him in if he preferred otherwise. i trusted he meant no harm. i indulged in petting his nose and talking to him until my fingers grew cold. i was mystified. i had experienced a completely random, beautiful, unscheduled moment in an undetermined destination. the act seemed pretty natural to me. and i don’t think the horses judged me. maybe the someone about to get into my running car did…

i moved on with confidence, regardless. hopped a train and felt myself return to the first thoughts of being spontaneous, or it wasn’t really a dérive. how was i to maintain spontaneous in travel when the train lines are on direct paths to “somewhere”. i quickly justified that making decisions based on subtle coincidences of my surroundings served as signs on which way to go. this way i was still not, at the least consciously, deciding any directions or destinations. i could relax and observe the “totality of life” or rather what had been proposed to me as “normal”: the everyday comings and goings of people with something to do and somewhere to go.

i did just that and noticed that everyone around me seemed to be “going somewhere” while i was just delighted in my day going “nowhere” watching them. i made comparisons of myself to other riders and walkers (when i felt cheeky enough to brave the weather). i contemplated the judgements they were possibly passing on me and considered things i would say were i asked where i was going. i considered judgements i could make about them and why i would. i suppose it may have been being submerged in an environment subject to being judged- the public- and considering partaking in it myself, i suddenly felt “even” and less afraid of that judgement. these strangers comings, goings and reasons are a mystery to me- speculation at best. why can’t I be the mystery? why can’t I be the inquisitor?

in all i got through the day unharmed and better armed for it. i remembered too- i did survive “the incident” after all.