There’s No Place Like…

Every day, I check out the Daily Post prompt to see if it’s something that I could use in my daily self examination. For me, blogging is (at least for now) something that I do to find out more about myself, to look for answers, and to find other people who have some of the same questions. So today’s question couldn’t go untackled – even though it’s probably going to hurt some people if they ever read this. Such is life.

Today, the Daily Post asks us what thing, person or place we miss most when we’re away from home. The truth is that I don’t miss anything. When I’m away from home, I want to stay away from home. I never miss the city that I’m currently living in – because when I’m away from home, I’m somewhere that I’ve chosen to be, somewhere that trumps all of the joys of my more permanent residence. When I’m somewhere new and different, all I can think about is how much I’d like to stay in that new and different place for awhile, to see all of its sights, smell its smells, eat its food, enjoy its pleasures…then move on.

My spirit yearns to be constantly on the move, with no ties. And I have ties, but for me, it seems that the people I love most, “the ties that bind,” so to speak, will always be there, no matter where my body happens to reside.

In truth, I hate that I’m tied down. I love my cats, and am happy with The Man, but if I woke up alone (hopefully stripped of the requisite sorrow of losing these beloved chains), I’d split town and stay gone, exploring the country – maybe the world – meeting new people, and having new experiences until I met my end.

I imagine myself, old and forgotten, tottering out for groceries at the local market, in a small town in Tuscany, or maybe Provence. Maybe I’ll get run over by a speeding bus, too feeble to hobble across the road in time. At first no one will know my name, but when the police find my house key, inside my tiny apartment they’ll find all the signs of a life well-traveled – a showbill from Kyoto, a train ticket from Mozambique, a photo of me on a rope bridge in the Andes, smiling broadly.

Part of me wonders if I’m this way because I grew up an only child in a strange family where no one seemed to really love anyone all that much. I’m not stupid enough to believe that my parents don’t love me – I know that they do, with all of their hearts – but they both have trouble expressing affection. The rest of my family seems even more disconnected. It’s like we’re all travelling on parallel tracks. We know we’re supposed to intersect, and sometimes we do a little, but overall it’s awkward and just shy of completely insincere. Is that because of my aunt’s death in childhood, my grandmother’s addiction to cigarettes and mommy’s little helper, my grandfathers’ battles with alcohol? Or is it deeper? One grandfather’s struggle as an orphan, my other grandmother’s struggle as the child of an abusive alcoholic fighting with his own gypsy need to be free of the chains of family and responsibility?

All I know is that to be truly free of all of this, I need to begin again, to make my own traditions and to be my own family. Maybe that’s why my two best friends and their families are so important to me. Maybe that’s why of anyone I’d miss if I were to leave this life and make another out on the road, the only thing I think I’d cry about would be missing my “nephew” and “niece” as they grew up. And maybe that’s why The Man, with his ebullient Italian family, became so important to me from day one.

I’m split in half – the part that yearns to be free and alone, and the part that cries out to be smothered with love, part of a larger whole. Both journeys are difficult, but since I already have the love of friends and family (though not my own), I guess I’ve found the path. Still, though, when I go away on pilgrimage next year, I doubt I’ll truly miss anyone or anything about my home. I’ll be too busy nurturing the side of me that longs to be beholden to no one, imagining what it would be like to cross that Andean rope bridge.

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