A Frenetic Case of Wanderlust

Important Things
My life of late has been a series of leavings. Partly by design, partly by desire, I find myself unpacking and repacking on a regular basis. I have the logistics of it down to a science – leave the house two hours before any flight, pack anything critical in carry on, set the thermostat to fifty-five, put the mail on hold, and so on.

But the emotions of it, I’m still working on. As much as I look forward to most trips, I also don’t want to leave home. I never feel like I have enough time at home – except when I’m there, of course.

This frenetic case of wanderlust has been with me for a lifetime. At this juncture, it wouldn’t seem that it’s some phase I’ll grow out of in due course, like when I thought I wanted to join the Peace Corps or be a long-haul truck driver (true story for another time!).

My father was a career Navy man working on diesel submarines. For the first several years of my life, we moved every couple of years, sometimes less. We exited the roller coaster the year I turned ten, which on paper sure doesn’t seem all that long, and yet, living that first decade of my life in such a nomadic style has shaped everything that came after.

When you’re born in to something, you can go a long time not realizing there’s another way. A whole lot of other ways, as it turns out. I remember during sixth or seventh grade when I realized that I had friends who had never been on a plane, had always lived in the same town, and even more strikingly, lived within reasonable driving distance from the bulk of their relatives. My relatives, on the other hand, lived on the opposite coast from me. We’d never shared a Thanksgiving or Christmas with any of them.

As children, you don’t spend a lot of time missing what you don’t have. Indeed, we had no need to. I have the great privilege of having incredible parents, and a sister who isn’t so bad either. (That’s a joke – she’s a gem, my mirror, my forever friend.) I never felt that we were missing out by spending each holiday just the four of us, or maybe with some family friends.

In any case, it was most assuredly those early years that fed my desire for exploration, independence. Perhaps it would have been there anyway, but I’m not so sure about that. Exposure to different geographies, people, and cultures only made me want more. I sought it out in my education. I sought it out in my leisure time. I sought it out in my professional life.

And so we’ve come full circle – back to the trip that I’m on right now. The trip that allows me to explore and experience while at the same time maintaining a home in a town that I love.

What was I complaining about again?   

Are You Sure We’re Related?

SiblingsMy parents have this running joke that if they had me first, I would have been their only child. Like with any good joke, it includes quirky details like, “Her sister slept through the night from the moment we brought her home. Hell, she might not even have woken up during the delivery! But this one, ” my father would say, gesturing at me with his thumb like he’s trying to hitch a ride, “This one hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since the Carter administration.”

I’m only mildly bothered by these comments since, really, did anyone sleep well during the Carter administration?

And, he’s not all together wrong – not just about the sleeping situation, but more generally that my sister and I couldn’t be more different. If there wasn’t such a strong physical resemblance, one could reasonably assume switched-at-birth scenarios that, once uncovered, could result in a book deal, followed by a wildly successful Lifetime movie, leading to a heartwarming weekly series on ABC Family. But, alas, it would seem we do share the necessary DNA to be considered sisters.Why is it then that we experience the world so differently?

My sister grew up on a steady diet of pastels, lace, and paper dolls. I was earth tones and corduroy. The most fun I had with paper dolls was when I was seven and locked myself in the bathroom with my mother’s Bic lighter and an assortment of Holly Hobbie’s patchwork dresses and paper bonnets. Burn, baby, burn.

My sister happily believed whatever she was told; I questioned everything. Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus? My sister fell for every one of them. She probably thinks we really landed on the moon too.

I never believed in the Tooth Fairy, but I understood fee-for-service at an early age, so was happy to oblige. Not that I completely understood what she wanted the teeth for in the first place. Some strange craft project, I imagine, involving elbow macaroni and pipe cleaners. It’s one of those questions in life that could go unanswered.

That anyone believed in the Easter Bunny is as odd as how many people think Justin Bieber is well-adjusted. I know I’m not the first one to point this out, and I get that the Easter Chicken has zero sex appeal, but a bunny with eggs? Let’s just say I’m not a “Belieber”.

Santa Claus has to be my sister’s favorite though; so imagine the depths of her despair when I combined my early onset reading skills with our freshly delivered ‘S’ volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The historical myth of the big guy in red was revealed, unleashing a sea of tears and emotion. “Mommy and Daddy were right! You should have been an only child,” she said, charging at me as I sat smugly in the beanbag chair.

At least she got one thing right.