In my post yesterday about getting the cellular internet thingy working, Malott left the following comment:
"You are one gutsy broad to throw caution to the wind, pull up stakes, quit your job, take off on the road.... Wanderlust. Can't relate."
I would have responded in the comment section, but then my reply started getting too long (what a surprise), and I figured it would be better standing on its own.
I have wanderlust, defined at Dictionary.com as, "a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about." It runs in the family. But it's not the kind that normally displays itself by completely pulling up stakes. In our family, it's the knowing we have roots that gives us the freedom to wander. We can go, because we know we'll be coming home.
This will be only the second time I've pulled up stakes to travel--the first time was when my then-husband and I did our big four-month bicycle trip in Western Europe. We were renting an apartment at the time, so we moved out, loaded our meager belongings into a storage unit, gave my father-in-law bill-paying privileges (the storage unit and one credit card), and hit the road.
Upon our return, we put down stakes: We bought a house and a reliable car, and then we had kids. I've had stakes ever since.
My wanderlust has changed over time. It's moved down on my list of what motivates me. For the bicycle trip, the wanderlust was on the top. I wanted to go places and see things--especially France--and that's what we did.
But now, the going and seeing aren't what's important.
When my mom first mentioned that she wanted to do something like this, I said no. It felt irresponsible to just quit keeping a roof over my head and go play for a year. But Skye was the one who pointed out that this kind of opportunity doesn't come along very often. Since she was absolutely right, I changed my mind and said yes.
My mom is the number one reason I'll be wandering. I'm taking the opportunity to spend a year with her, and as much time with my sister as we can manage with all our wandering. In second place, it's a tie between (1) having a reason to leave a job that's been wearing me down for the past couple years, and (2) having a reason to visit family and friends who are scattered around the country.
My mom and I have relatives in San Diego, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and--if you count ex-in-laws (who didn't divorce me, only my ex did)--in Vegas, Idaho, upstate New York, and New Jersey (though I don't think that particular sister-in-law is inordinately fond of me, so I'm not sure about NJ).
My mom and I have friends and former co-workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Texas. I have blogger buddies in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, and probably some other places that I'm not aware of right now.
And my friend, the cardiac nurse, said her daughter (who was with us a couple years ago on our vacation in Washington DC, when my friend's husband passed away) invited my mom and me to visit her in Florida, and she's even planning on hunting down an inexpensive Caribbean cruise for all of us to go on when we're there next winter. And my friend plans on flying out and joining us for the cruise.
When I think about our trip and the regions of the country we plan to visit in each season, my first thought is, "Who do we know that we want to visit while we're there?"
Wanderlust has fallen to a lonely fourth place.
It may be that, as we get older, the going and seeing become less important because we've gone and seen so much already. Or, it may be that it's less important, because now we know so many more people than we did when we were young. I'm not sure about the why, just that it's not so important anymore.
But since we're going to be there, then of course we'll want to see what there is to see and talk to the people who live and work there. For me now, what's getting me excited about the places we'll be going is the people we're going to meet. What stories will we hear? What characters will cross our path? Those questions are the ones that are the most intriguing to me.
I have the documentary, America's Heart and Soul, on DVD. It shows different people with different passions, and each one of those unique, fascinating people exemplifies the best of what America is. I don't expect to meet any of them (except maybe the welder/sculptor in Elbe, Washington). But I hope to meet other people who, in their own way, show us the best of America.
I don't feel admirable or gutsy. I'm nervous about making such a drastic change as quitting my job and selling my house and being away from my kids for so long, and I'm worried I won't get everything finished in time. Which is why I was so thrilled to get my mobile internet working: Something is ready!
As I look down the road ahead (no pun intended), I see this trip as the year that will mark the change my life will be taking. In the Before Time will be a marriage and divorce, child-raising, and a career in computers. In the After Time will be a likely medical career and whichever of the opportunities I choose from an unknown future full of promise (from the perspective of here and now, anyway). And during The Trip, I'll have a chance to renew a friendship with my mom (and my sister, but not quite as much) that has, of necessity, been by phone most of the last thirty years.
I won't be changing my mind.