It’s been almost 10 months since I returned from Europe, and even as I type that I can’t believe it. As the months go by, I’m more convinced than ever that I am a wayfarer, a wanderlust girl…with the heart of a homebody. I’m a walking paradox–I dream of zipping up the Grecian coast on a Vespa, of dancing on cobblestone streets in Buenos Aires, climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town with my South African friends.
And yet. It’s been 10 months and I still savor certain things about being home as though I’ve been away for 10 years. Christmas was the best holiday of my life–I was steeped in joy as I celebrated traditions with my family for the first time in three years. I still glory in the easy access I have to amazing salads and other produce, the idyllic weather of Southern California, and the drive from Pasadena to my hometown of Valencia through the green and brown foothills.
…and yet. I still dream. In a strange way, I miss that desperate discomfort of travel that makes every cell of my body feel more alive, and heightens every taste, sunset, and sensation. What is it the wayfaring Sea Rat says in The Wind in the Willows?
And you, you will come too, young brother; for the days pass, and never return, and the South still waits for you. Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new! Then some day, some day long hence, jog home here if you will, when the cup has been drained and the play has been played, and sit down by your quiet river with a store of goodly memories for company. You can easily overtake me on the road, for you are young, and I am ageing and go softly. I will linger, and look back; and at last I will surely see you coming, with all the South in your face!
My addiction to that door banging behind me, to that first step out into the sunlight where all things are new, lies quiet but not quite asleep in my heart. God willing, I’ll go to Italy this summer and maybe even a few other places to add to my “store of goodly memories,” and I will arrive there with a happy heart and all the South in my face.
The difference is that, this time, I will not be afraid to return home to my quiet river. Because I’ve learned to grow here, and to taste here, and to begin to feel alive in my own backyard.