I have an ache in my heart,
Brought on by Celtic music, Tori Amos, and pictures of exotic places with white-sand beaches or submerged Buddha heads,
That I live with every day.
I try to forget and ignore it, to go on as if it doesn’t exist, as if I were “normal” and happy in this average-life pattern of chores, routine, weather, and bills.
Most days that works.
But some days – like today – The Wanderer bursts its chains from the sheer pressure of being held captive
And explodes beneath the surface in hot waves of longing that crash over my head again and again, refusing to let me gasp a breath for fear that I’ll shove it back into its box
– it has to escape.
It’s a nostalgia for somewhere I haven’t been yet,
A need to be in new places with strange people who don’t speak my language,
Who ignore or welcome me by turns,
Of newness and ancientness and strangeness and odd familiarity.
A barely controllable urge to throw everything I own into the dumpster except what fits in one tiny bag, to liquidate it all and run away where no one knows my name.
To start over,
To see the world,
To eat weird food and hear weird music and read weird books in weird languages:
To be anywhere but here
With these people and these things and these responsibilities and these old, worn-out habits and places and food and skylines – this ugliness.
To be truly, utterly, irrevocably free
With Spirit as my Sherpa.
So I can finally and at long last feel the awe of the world, down to my core,
To feel the tingle in every cell of my earthly body and every invisible inch of my Self
Of being part of the flow of the world:
The birthright of all those stricken with this wanderlust.
The birthright that I’ve so long been denied.
The ache grows more bloated and painful with each resurfacing.
Every time it calls and I do not answer, its hunger sharpens.
Its thirst for the new and mobile, the ineffable, the truly awe-some, becomes drier, more acrid – its lips cracked and hissing.
The more I tell it no, now is not the time – I have bills and duties and people who need me – the more urgent its lust to flee.
I don’t know how to make The Wanderer happy without destroying everything it leaves behind.
I’ve never been able to do it – to save the good from the old and carry it into the new.
Each time I’ve allowed it to run free, it’s broken at least one heart – sometimes my own.
But when I hear the strains of a bagpipe,
It tears at the skin of my heart, trying to extort me into obeying its howls of grief.
The older I get, the stronger it is – it grows as I grow, my Primeval Self.
The resistance is stronger, too, though; Domesticated Self has its wiles. It fights back.
And so I stay put.
I wallow for a day – foamy waves of tears drowning out the obsessive compulsion to fling myself into the car and gogogo, it doesn’t matter where, don’t come back – trying to slake the thirst with alcohol and the hunger with sugar.
And in the morning, it’s gone.
Back to its tiny, dank bolt-hole to await the next siren call, the next tug at the ephemeral thread, all that keeps it chained to this place – now, here – for what amount to stupid, made-up reasons.
It’s inevitable that it will break free – the antediluvian won’t allow the civilized to run the show forever.
It has to run, its tangled hair whipping in torrential summer rain and bare feet throwing up the soil as they bite into the earth in its mad flight.
It knows it can’t go unheeded indefinitely.
But what will happen when it gets its way this time?
What will it destroy?
How do I soothe this ache that makes my bones shudder with need, that shreds pieces of my soul with the profoundness of its longing?
How do I live the dream without sacrificing everything I’ve built since the last escape?
It may not be possible – I could still forsake it all when I lose the will to fight back. And will lose it.
When I can’t say no even one more time.
When I have to go and not look back.
But I’m trying.
I’m laying a foundation.
Maybe – just maybe – this ache – this wiry, wild dragon of wandering – can find solace without laying waste to the very womb that birthed it.
Perhaps there’s an aerie – a new kind as yet undiscovered – something transformable, moveable, changeable – waiting for the right set of circumstances to make it real,
Waiting for me to pull my shit together and go –
While still bearing my love and my work and my connection in my metaphorical suitcase.