“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
- Hans Christian Anderson
* * *
My wanderlust has always been there. A part of me as normal and necessary as my skin. For me there was never a time when I didn't want to travel and explore. While, with age, that tendency has become more refined - I don't really want to go everywhere anymore - it has not lessened at all; this is a longing that defines my core, one of the true, immutable realities of me.
I think about it a lot - my wanderlust - especially these days, because it is also a truth that is currently at odds with my reality. What I have found is that with age, things deepen: tendencies especially, but also loves, fears, judgments, dreams, realities. And so I find myself in a state necessitating consistency, normalcy, and routine, but wanting spontaneity, madness, and adventure. It's not fair. I guess not much is. (And far be it from me to complain about the beautiful and sometimes charmed life I lead.) But it is exactly what it is: the current state of reality in our house, the pretty green house with a pleasant view.
The concept of Home is one we generally take for granted. Most people I know can identify a place that they consider their Home, without question, in a manner annoyingly blasé. They aren't bothered because it's their daily bread, always there, always normal and recognizable. Never leaving. Always waiting for them when they need it. But me...I haven't been able to say where Home is for a long, long time now. I've spent eighteen years in a state of exciting, nomadic exploration and resettlement. It was fun and right and I loved it. But now, living the life I live today, I am ambivalent about whether not being able to name a Home is something I like or hate about my life.
I can say that I hate not knowing where Home is. I hate always thwarting any attempt to know. I hate not having the people I love - outside of my husband and best friend, and my wonderful children - near me. I hate not fitting in anywhere quite, exactly. I hate not knowing where we'll end up. I hate trying to make friends with people I don't know and don't really want to put in the effort to know. I'm tired of phone calls and emails and texts rather than coffees and dinners and parties. Because those are among the best things in life.
But I love the things I've seen, the things I know, and the things I can imagine one day I'll see and know. I love the memories we've made and shared and passed to another generation, even as small seeds in their subconscious. I love that gnawing bug of curiosity in me that simply won't die. And yet, I love the idea of a home that lasts forever, even if I haven't quite found it yet. And, oh, to feel at Home. I love that.
But loving the idea isn't enough. Because the whispery belief that "Home is where the heart is" is a limiting one. A false one if only read based on the traditional sense of "Home."
My heart is in a million places on any given day. (Don't try to imagine a week.) Mostly it's here, of course, in my house with my beautiful family, but it's also in Italy on a train to Venice, train ticket in hand for the first time without my parents, in Texas on a bluebonnet field with my sister, walking the streets of Mexico city smelling the smells and seeing the sights of my culture, on the pier on the Adriatic, drinking Porto on a Portuguese 18th birthday, stars shining in our eyes, swimming with jelly fish after gin and tonics. It's in the Rub' al Khali in Ramadan, breathing in the desert heat. It's in the dirt of my Utah garden and the worms that make the peonies on the side of my house bloom. It's in a tent in the Texas hill country, on a tube floating the Guadalupe. It's at a table in a diner in New York City, eating matzo ball soup and brussels sprouts at 10 o'clock at night, chatting with my fiancé. It's floating in the Andaman sea next to my husband. It's swimming in Maine's Atlantic, watching a little red kite fly above, jiggling at the command of my 2 year old son. And my heart is also at Home everywhere he walks. Everywhere my husband walks. Everywhere my youngest two sons will ever walk.
But today I feel it's not enough to live on those memories for the feeling of Home. Sometimes you need the substance more than the essence. Home is something - fleeting, yes, but real. And to me it's been unclear until the past year.
Home is where we want to be, where our people are already - maybe not the best or golden or only ones, but definitely the ones that will share our lives in day to day, the mundane quotidianity of raising children and growing old in subtle, inescapable, beautiful ways. Home is with the ones I'll paint with and drink with and eat with and probably smoke a hookah on my porch with. Home is where I know the streets, where I I can predict the landscape with every coming season, where I can watch a great, big tree grow in my garden, wrinkle after wrinkle, marking my years, and one day tell my sons how small it was when first we moved there.
I think I know where Home is now. And to know it is to love it fervently. I simply can't get there fast enough. And yet, with irony, that is one trip we can't take quite yet.
Today it's a nostalgic feeling of certainty. Yesterday it was maddening. And maybe tomorrow it will be a warm glow of hope.
But until it happens, oh, to feel at Home!