I paid rent yesterday. I made a monetarily committed decision to stay in one place for at least a month. Instantly, my brain lurched into a panic and started thinking about how far I could get on the money I had left. It’s not a real panic, of course. It’s not the kind of reaction that results in someone stepping up and slapping me across the face, grasping my shoulders and shaking me while screaming, “Get a hold of yourself!” in my face.
My panic is always quiet but determined. It reminds me of a child who does nothing for attention. When I say nothing, I mean something, but not anything in particular. They make a noise or pretend to trip or “accidentally” drop whatever they’re carrying and when you glance up to see what the disturbance is, they look directly at you, making a face perfectly composed to befit whatever pantomime is playing out. They’re gunning for a reaction. I tend not to react when children do this.
My panic is like a petulant child who decides it’s been longer than 20 minutes since anyone looked at it and it’s time to push something that will elicit a reaction. Something familiar, something that works every goddamn time.
‘IF YOU TAKE YOUR BED OUT OF YOUR VAN AND BRING IT INSIDE IT MEANS YOU FORFEIT YOUR STATUS AS A WANDERER, A ROAMER, AN ANYWHERE YOU LAY YOUR HEAD IS HOMER, THE POET LAUREATE OF THE EPIC ADVENTURE! WHY WOULD YOU JEOPARDIZE OUR DESTINY?’
Because I can only be one or the other. How do I manage to get so wrapped up in that ideology? If I want to do this, I have to sacrifice that. It’s crazytalk.
(And speaking of crazytalk; no, that particular inside my head voice doesn’t scream in all capitals, in fact, she’s appalled that I would make her seem more screechy and panicky for dramatic effect.)
The desire to have a home does not preclude a nomadic nature. The instinct to travel does not forbear a nest-like sanctuary that has no wheels attached to it. (Or a rudder, because living on a boat also has a certain appeal. Learning to sail is on my list!)
I look around and I see a lot of places in the world where people have little or no option for a safe homebase, clean water and air, friends and neighbours who are helpful and considerate. When one stumbles into a place like that, and feels at home, whatever would compel someone to be as determined to leave in a hurry as I can be at times?
The short answer is fear. Afraid that settling, for however long, suggests giving in, laying down, throwing in the towel, so to speak.
When I was younger, I spent much time considering all the adventures I would have in far off exotic locales when I was older. But I was in no hurry. I found just as much solace in the pages of a book, and the imagination of my own mind. I would stand on the edge of the cliff at the top of my parents road and find delight in the worlds contained within clouds above me.
The impetus to see new things is not a terrible one. Expansion of perspective is intrinsic to human evolution, and travel is a brilliant way to achieve that.
But sometimes it’s nice to have the option to get a little rooty, and see what grows.