A friend reminded me of this quote last night.
The whole quote, as Kerouac wrote it, reads “Because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep rolling under the stars.”
This time around, my wanderlust is equal parts romance and sadness. I am being driven by a sense of restlessness, disconnection, and yearning, as much as adventure or romance.
I am leaving on another adventure because I don’t know what else to do.
To bring you up to date: Craig and I have separated. Yes, again. *sigh* My sense is that it’s truly permanent this time because…well, we just can’t keep doing this, obviously.
Thanks to a dear friend who opened her home to me, I’ve had a safe, warm place to live, someone to talk to regularly, and lots of emotional support. But most of my friendships have devolved into occasional lunch dates — I don’t blame my friends for this, I’m the one who left, but it still leaves me with little support. I’m kept at arm’s distance by being met only in public, and often in groups.
When I came home, it was partially because I was injured and needed too much help with daily functions to keep traveling. But it was also because I was beginning to lose the joy of travel, and the loneliness had become crushing. I wanted to work with Craig to figure out what a life together might look like for us, and I was eager to commit to that partnership in whatever form it took and prioritize our relationship over my travels. Now that option is off the table, and I am adrift, without priorities or goals.
My kids are grown, so the mothering role that was central to my life for decades is over. I’ve shifted from a career I loved into one that could finance my travels, but doesn’t satisfy my soul. Socially, I’m a misfit. The socio-political perspective I’ve gained in my travels mostly pisses people off, and they can’t relate to my stories. My recent experiences are so unusual, I feel like a Martian at the dinner table most of the time. I have no goals or direction, no sense of where to go next.
After weeks of paralysis, my decision-making process took the form of frantic stabbing-in-the-dark. I shopped for real estate in St. Louis. I scheduled a trip with my daughter to Portland because she thinks I would be very happy there. I applied for another volunteer week in Spain and asked my London contact if she would need a cat-sitter again soon. In other words, I chased everything, trying to make something happen, with the idea that I would roll with whatever came my way.
First, I found a house I liked a lot. But it sold before I was able to sell my existing house (which is rented out to someone who is trying to buy it), and I didn’t find a lender willing to sit down and advise me on my unusual financial situation. (note to lenders: when someone fills out your ‘free consultation form’ instead of your ‘online application,’ don’t respond by asking them to go back and fill out the application. I can read, I saw both forms, I wanted to consult, not apply.)
Then, my London contact said yes, I can use her apartment in July in exchange for cat-sitting. And the Spanish volunteer program said they have a program in the Basque province where they could use me for a week. Then I found a supercheap one-way flight to Spain ($418) from New York.
Alrighty then, The Universe/Fate/Deity of your choice definitely says I should go back and travel some more.
I feel a little trepidation about going back on the road, for several reasons.
1) My hip/leg/feet issues are better (most days I’m walking 2 miles), but I’m still playing whack-a-mole with the pain and don’t have a diagnosis. I still have days where I can barely walk, although they’re rarer now. The pain moves from my hip to my feet to my calves at random, and my physical therapist chases it around.
2) Craig was there for me with daily Skype chats and constant messaging, even when we were apart, for more than half the time I’ve traveled. It was Craig who checked in to make sure I arrived safely when I moved from place to place, and Craig who would have flown out to look for me if I’d disappeared. He was a strong, protective presence in my life even from halfway around the world. This time I will be absolutely on my own. I could die and it would be weeks before anyone might notice. I’ve been on my own before, of course, and I’m sure I can handle it. But it is, to understate the emotion, less fun than being connected to a warm loving person, and I am sad about it.
3) I wish I felt excited. I don’t. I’ve felt surges, little breaths of joy, but that’s it. But I’m a big believer that happiness comes from within, and it doesn’t matter whether I travel or settle, the happiness will come back when I take charge of bringing it back. I need to connect with those little surges of joy, those expansions of the soul, and nurture them like seedlings. Control my thoughts and my emotions will follow. I’ll get there. I know how to do this, I just get overwhelmed at times.
A few people have suggested that if the traveling doesn’t work out, I can always come back home “now that I know how easy it is.” I have to shake off my horror at how disconnected we are from one another’s experiences — to remind myself that they can’t possibly know what I’ve gone through. The financial and emotional devastation of this return to the States nearly destroyed me, and I have a long way to go to heal the damage that’s been done to my spirit.
Going overseas is a huge financial commitment for me. I can’t afford to buy trans-Atlantic plane tickets — even cheap ones —every few weeks or months. Once I’m there, I will need to stay for a while.
I have a bit of a plan for healing on the road. I’m returning to places where I felt happy, and where I met people with loving spirits who inspired me. I will explore a few new places, too, and balance my time between being with people and being in retreat. I’m going to use this blog to process more of my feelings as I experience this strange life, so I’ll be sharing more posts like this one with you, alongside photos of my adventures.
I’m sorry this post was a bit dark, but I wanted to update you on my current situation and tell you about the decision process (or lack thereof) that is taking me back overseas.
My next post will be much brighter, and filled with those breaths of joy I mentioned!
(P.S. Are you wondering about Portland? I went, it was lovely, and the city is definitely in the running to be my Forever Home if I decide to settle in the U.S. My daughter knows me very well!)