wan·der·lust [won-der-luhst]: noun a strong, innate desire to rove, travel about, or explore the world
I am a nomad by nature. Though I like to think that once I find a place that suits my temperament, I will attach myself with the quiet persistence of a root’s first tendril, dig deep, resist removal, I am still afraid. Afraid that in the end, something in me will stir, an echo of something, a longing, which can only be quieted by relocation. And I will follow it.
I’ve inherited this from my father, who cannot settle in one place for too long. It’s like some internal music shifts, and he is ready to go as if in search of some impossible harmony. Father charging ahead, mother and sisters, cats and suitcases in tow. I understand the impulse, and try to resist it. I’ve already lived in seven cities in the last seventeen years, which has to be some kind of a track record. Of course, intertwined with the adventure, the kind of enchantment that a new place holds, there is always the loss. I now have friends in so many states that I have stopped counting, California to DC, Michigan to Florida. I’ve said good-bye enough that the words are rendered completely meaningless. And I am not one to untangle myself with grace and finality from people and relationships. To me, they are all so necessary, in their unique joys and complications. I am not good at letting go, though I am ever so good at letting go.
It’s paradoxical really, that I should long for relocation (for a constant shift in place, because who I am, my creativity, my joy is linked to my location), when my life anchors itself with such determination in friendships. I feel quite envious when people refer to “my best friend, we’ve known each other since we were four.” I cannot imagine how it must feel – all that shared history, shared space, change, the intertwining of formative experiences. How weighty and wonderful.
I think of what C.S. Lewis referred to as mythos, that thread of kindred spirit-ness that runs through all the books, and landscapes, music, pastimes that one loves, and the times when one discovers another who loves the very same things, not for different reasons, but for that same unarticulated reason that we do! How rare and beautiful to find such people. Who understand. Whom you can understand. I used to think that because I’ve moved so many times that this experience would elude me. That my two and three year stints in different cities would make this shared mythos an impossibility.
And yet, my life overflows with friendship, though some of my dearest people continue to live far, far away. But perhaps, here lies the secret. To nurture a relationship where proximity is not the daily fare, where popping in for a press of coffee and advice is impossible – that takes desire. And whatever is fueled by desire instead of obligation, whatever we choose freely is the most life-giving, grounding, joyful thing in the world. So I embrace the distance, I embrace the possibility of new locations and new people.
For my friends and dear ones who read this, who have stuck with me through my years of wandering, I love you evermore. And to Darren, my husband of less than two years, my built-in best friend – I am relieved that if we move, we move together, and if we stay, we stay because we want to. I have grown to love the quiet simplicity of a Sunday, where we go to the farmer’s market and try artisanal cheeses and breads and prosciutto, where you teach me photography, where we can read quietly for hours, side by side. The wanderer in me grows happy and quiet in this routine.
Today was such a day. We made brunch together – gluten free pancakes with dark chocolate, bananas and pecans. We topped them with ghee, raw honey, and blackberries; and as an accompaniment, a very robust Bolivian coffee with coconut cream. We opened the French doors, let sun and wind and dust come in, let our curtains flutter, let our home be infused by new scents and sounds, stories of far away places. And I am content to imagine. For now.
The basic recipe for the pancakes can be found here. I added a tablespoon of cacao and chunks of dark chocolate for a bit of thrill.
Mythos: “Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?” C.S. Lewis