It seems like lately I’ve been having the same conversation with lots of people in my life. It goes something like this:
Person Who’s Just Been Brought Up To Date: “Wow, you’ve been traveling for almost a year?! That must be amazing. You must have had the most amazing time. I bet it was glamorous and wild and amazing. What was it like?!”
Me: “It was… amazing?”
Of course, the truth is that it’s been both amazing and awful. Sometimes one, sometimes the other, often both mixed together in the way that can occur only during travel. Beautiful Scottish ocean; ugly Scottish tick that bit me and gave me Lymes. Lovely friends on the way from here to there; awful jet lag and plane-air-induced cold that I brought with me. Gorgeous Portland weather; awful Everywhere Else weather. Being on the go for a year; being on the go for a year.
“Should I be worried about this Traveling Shanna?” another friend asked, and I thought for a long time before I answered her.
“No,” I said. “I’m almost done with this Traveling Shanna.”
That’s true, actually, but maybe I didn’t realize it until I wrote it. For me, one of the great joys of travel is coming home to nest. But, without a nest, that’s impossible, and thus after a while, travel begins to feel less and less like joyful experience and more an more like I’m endless, rootless, uprooted.
April 1 is the end of Chapter 37. On April 2nd, I’ll turn 38, and this chapter of my life will have ended, whether I’m ready or not (although something tells me that I will be). On that day in April, I’ll be at a month-long writing retreat, tucked away from the world on twelve acres of land with nothing to distract me but a friendly dog and some chickens. That feels appropriate somehow, as does my current plan to spend the summer teaching writing in Portland (Segue: I am looking for a cheap, furnished room or a housesitting opportunity in Portland for the months of May and June, by the way, so please give me a holler if you know of anything). I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll do after that — Chapter 38 is very much still a blank piece of paper — but I know whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing.
“So you’re homeless now?” one friend asked recently, squinting slightly.
“I would say I’m more…. homefree,” I responded. “Like carefree, only not.”
And that’s true too. There’s nothing easy about life, whether you have a home or don’t. Whether you’re traveling or aren’t. It’s never going to be carefree. But it can be free from a lot of other things, if only you’re willing to let go.
So, for those six remaining readers who I have NOT turned off from their desire to travel the world, here is a fantastic article on how to make what I’m doing into what you’re doing: Ten Ways North America Prevents You From Traveling. It’s all true, and it’s good advice for those of you who want to get on the road and go.
Far and fast, s.
“This sensual yearning for knowledge, this insatiable wanderlust, this long desire.” ~Anatole France