If I Had Wings

September 17th, 2012

The sturdy lantana bushes in my yard are lush and flowering, overflowing the fences and elbowing the camellia bush and the struggling azaleas. I think of them as peasant plants, rooting down wherever they can find a space and then just getting on with the work of growing. Right now their blooms are home to dozens of butterflies on their way to somewhere, just here for a layover and refueling. I want to fly away too, but I’m scared of it at the same time. I chafe at the familiar, the predictable routine, the haven of my home, the known boundaries of a city I’ve lived in for 27 (!) years, but I also hesitate to strike out, to make my own journeys. I don’t know why I feel the need to push against the comfort of my life. I’m not a brave person, but my favorite childhood character was shy and retiring Mole in Wind in the Willows, who ran away from home one spring day,  and I return again and again to Kerouac’s On the Road. But as much as I’d like to be an intrepid journalist covering a war zone or a free spirit wandering the globe with just a backpack and a passport, that is just not me. And still, I long to go, to see, to dare myself, to just once feel at home in the wider world. Lately, a Walt Whitman line shimmers in the back of mind like a neon sign: “Now Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.” Will I?

4 Responses to “If I Had Wings”

  1. Do a house swap in a place you’d like to explore, but not as a tourist. Check http://www.airbnb.com for rooms to rent and sublet a place for a month or more.

    It’s an inexpensive way to dip into another life and another place in an authentic way, and it doesn’t require completely uprooting yourself. Doing that for a month or two might be enough. If it’s not enough, well then, maybe you really ARE ready to go on a bigger adventure. I guess my point is, don’t think in terms of all or nothing. Explore the inbetween options.

  2. nikki says:

    good advice and I’ve sort of committed to do that in NYC…but it’s scary.

  3. Nikki, I indulge in House Hunters International and dream of living in the place being featured in that day’s show. I should be very happy in my spot, but I, too, want to fly away.

    As a small child, I tried running away once, packing my doll-clothes suitcase with a few things and a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. I made it to the corner, only to sit down on the curb, dispirited because I’d failed to pack a can-opener.

    Perhaps I’m still like that. Wanting to run away but not really understanding what I’ll need to take with me to gain success?

  4. nikki says:

    OH that’s great…I still feel like I’m sitting on the curb!

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