I keep this account as one part mom-reassurance (hi from Wherever, I’m still alive etc.,) several parts public catharsis (if I don’t write, I don’t process) and one final part encouragement (traveling when you’re young and short on cash is possible and worthwhile.) I thrive in movement. As a mid-20s American, every day I am painfully aware of the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing. Ever. Having no idea what I’m doing when I have a home, a 40-hour a week job, and a consistently available community is terrifying (on a good day.) But deliberately inserting myself into an unpredictable lifestyle, one with national borders and new people and location changes every couple of weeks, this fits my mindset. Mentally, I struggle to change. Accepting the restlessness is much easier.
The Leyden Jar is a collection of stories born out of that restlessness and the motion that follows it. The name comes from a particularly moving passage from Moby Dick: “it seemed as though, by some nameless, interior volition, he would fain have shocked into them the same fiery emotion accumulated within the Leyden jar of his own magnetic life.” If you, like me, aren’t particularly up-to-date on your 18th century science terminology, this will help:
Leyden jar (noun)
1. a device that “stores” static electricity between two electrodes on the inside and outside of a glass jar used to conduct many early experiments in electricity. A famous use of the Leyden jar was Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment, which gave rise to the phrase “capture lightning in a bottle.”
While I expect my endeavors to end more positively than Ahab’s, it is my hope that my life, and the lives of the people around me, can be described as his was — magnetic.
[Currently: occupying a teeny tiny bedroom in West Harlem.]