I like to move, preferably slowly. Walking is bliss.
I’ve always had a wanderlust- a bit of a gypsy spirit.
An old Italian friend of mine used to call me his, “little gypsy head.” Whenever he called me this peculiar nickname he would always follow it with, “but not like these (gesturing rudely toward the street) beggars- no you are like the beautiful old gypsies full of life and mystery.” (These were his words and feelings- I am actually quite interested in the plight of the modern day Gitana- who are also just people who need Jesus.)
When I was in fifth grade my response to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was, “A wanderer.” I imagined myself on horseback wearing an ankle length leather trench coat riding slowly over mountainous terrain through heavy cool rain.
I broke up with my very first (elementary school) boyfriend after one day with a note that read as follows:
I have to break up with you. I can’t be tied down because my soul is as free as the wind that blows over the rolling prairie grasses.
I’m not joking- I really wrote that! (Too much Laura Ingalls Wilder)
In high school I built a friendship with a foreign exchange student from Austria (Shout out to Lisi- love you!) Almost twelve years later this amazing creative woman is still a dear friend. I have visited her twice at her home in Vienna, and she and her boyfriend were just with us in the Springs last summer.
When choosing colleges I wanted to leave Ohio and attend a university in California. My parents told me I couldn’t go any farther west than Texas. I went to Baylor and married a man from California! (This was a coincidence- not for spite=)).
In early college I traveled to Belarus on two occasions. Belarus is a beautiful country with a lively wit that resonates over the stillness left in the air from years of communist rule. A beautiful friend of mine there is possibly the most vibrant and alive person I have ever met.
I studied in Florence, Italy. I became obsessed with Italy after this experience- I’d wake up in the middle of the night and start searching the web for jobs in Italy. I even found jobs for Aaron in Italy. I’d go into a trance for 48 hours working out a plan on how we would get there and be there- the plans were never fleshed out- sad. Someday. But, I am happy to report I no longer go into to crazy Italy trances.
So it ended up I had to settle for Mexico. (If you asked me now though, I love Mexico right up there with Italy- and on some accounts much more.) I moved to Guadalajara, Mexico with my husband to teach- we lived there two years. Our first daughter, Clara, was born in water, in Mexico. Mexico made me an adult and a mother.
I miss my days and the people I love there frequently. I often want to go back- two years was nothing! I have many friends still there in their 6th, 7th,8th ,and even 30 something years there! Sometimes I feel like a loser for leaving after only two years. I was just getting passed the new culture shocky-type stage. I wonder what I would have experienced and how much more deeply those experiences would have shaped who I am becoming had I stayed.
We returned to Colorado Springs and bought a house. You know what I thought about that, “great, now we’re stuck.” Which isn’t necessarily true, but for me it feels a bit cumbersome. I think about decorating and improving and creating a beautiful warm place and then I think, “well, it can be beautiful but not too comfortable because then I’ll become attached to it and when a cool opportunity comes I won’t want to seize it because I like my curtains too much.”
Sometimes I just want to go somewhere- anywhere new and foreign. Anywhere where I’d need to carry a map around and finding a place to pee could be considered an adventure.
This is my struggle- the desire to go- the pursuit of the unseen- the search for beauty- the quest for the unknown……………it has at times bordered on pathological (watching a House Hunters International Episode for the 6th time because I’ve seen them all multiple times!)
It isn’t only searching for what I don’t know, but also reaching out and reconnecting with what I do know. I love visiting places I have been before. Seeing the same faces and signs and breathing familiar foreign smells and walking familiar foreign paths is comforting. There is some continuity that is grasped, some whimsy-at-large that comes full circle when the foreign is established as familiar.
All these feelings aside my husband and I are growing some roots here. I think this is healthy and good for our family.
Just two months ago hubby and I were mobilizing for another international move. He was interviewing with international schools and I had begun reading the stack of books I had ordered on Amazon about raising kids in foreign countries and was packing boxes in my head.
Guess what happened? We were invited to stay.
We accepted to invitation. For now I am learning to quench my thirst for far-flung adventure with the challenge of seeing myself as an ex-cosmopolitan (mind games are fun=)). Even here in Colorado Springs, I am a foreigner a sojourner- life here can be strange and uncomfortable, lonely and frustrating, exhilarating and surprising, rich and alive!- just like it was abroad.
I am confident in God’s purposes for grounding me and growing me here- home.
For now, I have been called to stay.