Wanderlust

Every so often, I get the urge to just disappear. Up and leave.

It’s not consistently because things are going too badly or too well. Sometimes it happens when I feel a little too close to people in my life; sometimes when I feel very distant from them. It’s almost certainly sometimes out of a desire for a tabula rasa, but I think it’s also borne from an inclination to take everything I’ve learned and apply it solidly somewhere. It’s a byproduct of circumstance, but it’s also something innate to me, maybe to all people.

I miss cities.

It’s fair to say that when I lived in a city, I missed the country–missed the water and the open space and the fresh air. (The suburbs, on the other hand, I never miss and never will, because there I am unhappy in both ways.)

I’ve been thinking lately that I might be something of an ambivert with introverted tendencies, because sometimes I am at my best and brightest when I am surrounded by a group of people, especially a group of smart, passionate, positive people. The desire to recharge in solitude remains, but it’s more complicated than that. We’re all more complicated than that. Ambivert and introvert and extrovert are all highly silly words sometimes, because we want so badly to capture and understand who we are, but language can never quite do that for us, although it comes close on occasion.

I love language, but I still know this is true.

I feel restless on and off. So far September has been been productive and good but also restless. I think maybe I should go West or South. I should apply to graduate school again and go, without reservation, wherever they will have me, even Nebraska. (I have an unjustified phobia of Nebraska.) I should move back to the D.C. area where so many of my friends are. I should move far, far away and make a whole new community of people. I’ll keep in touch, though. Probably.

I should live abroad. I should live on an island.

This is not new to me. When I applied for MFA programs the second time, I had a brief love affair with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks program. Far, far away from everything, surrounded by the grandeur of the North. Why not write there?

I didn’t end up applying to U Alaska–too expensive to move there–and instead I applied mostly to schools on the East Coast. I am, I believe usually, an East Coast person on a fundamental level. I like trees and seasons and cities within reasonable driving distance. I like having a community–my community, which I’ve put time and energy into for many years, growing it very slowly, very carefully.

People leave and they should. Who do you stay in a place for? When is it a responsible, rational choice and when is it inhibition? I don’t expect people to stay anywhere for me and yet I’m glad that they’re close by. But move where you will. I’ll visit. Probably. Unless you move to Nebraska.

Do our physical locations matter much anymore anyway? My community is more online than any community in human history and yet it’s still important, still necessary somehow to see people in person.

You can’t share a bottle of wine or play a board game or take a walk together on Twitter, much as I love Twitter.

Every so often, I get the urge to disappear. I almost ran away from home twice when I was a teenager. The first time, I only hid. The second time, I said I was going for a walk and my mother said: “Take the dog.”

I walked to the edge of our neighborhood and looked up and down the next street. I looked down at the dog. She wagged her tail and smiled the way dogs do. For a brief instance, I imagined going, the two of us, but we didn’t have any money or–really–anywhere to go. It would be easier without the dog, but I could not send her back to the house for fear she’d get hit by a car. (My mother is an evil genius.)

I went home.

Some days, I’m restless. It is a sign, from some deep part of my brain, that maybe I need something new–or at least something else. More adventure. More connectivity.  I channel my wanderlust into travel, into projects, into exploration. When people leave, I’m happy for them and sometimes jealous and sometimes sad. I imagine new places to go and more and more, I do go to them. It’s maybe the best part about being an adult.

But I haven’t found a place yet that I need to go and stay. And that might be the difference. Until then, it might be  responsible and reasonable simply to wander and see new things and meet new people however I can.

So I do.

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