I’m beginning to think that some people are very good at traveling. These people must like movement — must like change. They must not be afraid of a fair amount of uncertainty. They must light up at the word adventure. What do you bet?
Adventure makes me a little nervous. Especially when I don’t have all the details. Ask me if I’d be up for an adventure, and I’d probably smile and nod and wave my arms along with you, because you looked so excited. But eventually you’d come up for air, and I’d begin to falter. I’d want some more information. And then I’d probably feel like ordering a coffee, while I thought it all over for a minute. (Maybe ten minutes.)
I like a good adventure too — it’s not that. I’m willing to venture to all ends of the earth, in order to try something someone said I should try.
This isn’t much of an exaggeration. I will go across the country, for little more than the promise of a beautiful pizza, baked by a beautiful couple.
And I will take every bus under the sun, to get to a place with the curry to end all curries. I will!
But there is something I like more than the very best in sweet and savory. Much more, if you can believe it. I like a home base.
I like an adventure (or even two or three!), and then I like things to go back to normal. Just for a little bit. I like oatmeal three days in a row, and I like it after I’ve slept for eight hours and worked out first thing.
I miss my old-fashioned oats with skim milk, half of a banana, and a billion berries. I miss my routine.
We’re going to enter first-world-problem territory now. And I’m hoping you won’t judge me too harshly, from wherever you’re sitting. Because intellectually, I know how lucky I am — not only to be able to pick a place on a map and go see it, but also to be able to have meal after meal out, for the foreseeable future.
And I know I’m incredibly lucky for a thousand other reasons, besides. I’m fully aware that having the option to start over is an incredible luxury, in and of itself. But here is a nasty truth: knowing that doesn’t change how I untethered I feel.
This is partially because I no longer have a home, per se, on either coast. In my own defense, I think that must make this trip a little different than your average vacation. My goals don’t include sleeping late, getting a tan, and/or making a miniature umbrella collection in the sand. I’m on assignment, in a way: I need to figure out where I’d like to live and what I’d like to do.
Maybe I should say I get to do those things. Would that be better? Maybe that would help make it exciting again. (And a little less exhausting.) I get to bop from state to state, from hotel to hotel. I get to figure out how to jazz up complimentary breakfasts, and I get to scout out different neighborhoods.
And if some days don’t feel as fun as they should, and if I feel REALLY ready to stop wringing out my dirty clothes in the shower — well, it’s only temporary. I am awfully lucky to be able to sit in the sun, in an Adirondack chair, with an iced coffee and a two-bite macaron, when life doesn’t feel so wonderful. I mean, really.
I’m also awfully lucky to be able to look to my left and see someone I can lean on, for however long I need to. She’s close enough to tousle my hair, and give my shoulders a squeeze. She’s right here, and she’d like to split another cookie too. A real cookie. Macarons hardly count.
It’d be good to remember something else, too. I can’t expect to start off with the lifestyle it took my parents most of my adult life to earn. I learned this when I graduated from college, but I had to re-learn it when I moved to NYC, and I have a feeling I’m going to need to a refresher again soon.
Again, it’s one thing to understand intellectually. It makes perfect sense, when you say it. But to suddenly have to do without almost all that you’ve grown accustomed to — it’s hard. It’s not hard compared to a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It takes some getting used to.
At the risk of sounding even more spoiled, it doesn’t feel very good to have to repeatedly turn down a friend’s request for dinner, because you can really only afford coffee. (And maybe a cookie, because things are not THAT dire. Also, because you are a cookie monster.)
Anyway, it’s really different — to have to think about leaving your walls blank for a year or two, while you sock away the money to really decorate. And if that money has been earmarked for Apartment Overhaul, then you’re probably going to have to accept that the absolutely beautiful king salmon in these parts does not have your name on it. At least not yet.
But it will, someday. If you continue to work hard. If you have faith that good things will come — sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big (as my friend Emma says). Good things will come, if you keep taking risks, and if you keep doing your very best to confront life with grace.
And someday, when the timing’s right, you’ll meet someone and you’ll look forward to cobbling together a little life. Starting with a coffee table from who knows where. Or maybe a painting the two of you made the Sunday you moved in (and felt sure could pass as art).
Someday you’ll have a view of something, and, more importantly: you’ll have someone to share it with.
Someday you’ll have enough. And someday you’ll probably realize it was never so much about your stuff, at all.