Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dandelion

I have always had a sense of adventure. I like new places and exploration. I never felt the need to stay rooted to one spot for too long. I like the ramble, the movement, the excitement of what might be just around the corner. We moved a lot when I was a kid and I learned to be portable. I remember when we bought a place up in Dayton, up the Touchet river in Rogers Gulch. It was 50 acres of rimrock and hillside punctuated with a strawberry field and a wheat field. It was surrounded by 800 acres of nothing but cattle, coyotes, deer, elk and bears and we had the whole gulch to ourselves. Yvette (my sister) and I scrambled all over that property in our Levis and boots and teeshirts. I loved it. And I loved moving on afterwards, though my fondest memories took place there, with a doublewide trailer and a 10% grade driveway. I think I left a good piece of my soul in the wild rosebushes and green apple trees that grew along the half mile dirt road. That's ok; it's happy and safe there. Tons of rattlesnakes to protect it.

As an adult I've moved around too. Washington, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma and some sticky places in between. I used to love tossing everything in my truck - because everything I had fit into just one truck- and moving to some new and exciting/depressing/hopeful/scary/unknown locale for new adventures and good coffee. I've always had a few common denominators along the way. A few photo albums, a very few mementos from my youth and Gray Kit
ty. Gray Kitty was a gift for my second birthday and probably the one constant from when I was growing up. I had a big teddy bear named FuzzyWuzzy that I used as a pillow, but my mother gave him away when I was 8. So I've had Gray Kitty my whole life and also tend to adopt cats that are gray. Go figure.

Five years ago this month, I bought a house. It's the third time I've purchased property but the first time entirely on my own. My ex-husband and I had purchased a house and some land several years ago, so I at least knew how to do it. I wasn't sure that this is what I wanted to do- to put down roots. I talked to people I respect and got their opinions. It's scary to stay in one place for me. I feel as though I'll get stagnant, bored, that I'll somehow grow old and die. For Yvette, it was easy because she doesn't share the same philosophy as me. She still lives in our same small town where we graduated high school. I'm not sure I possess the moxy to stay in one place for more than 5 years or so.

As one could imagine, moving around takes its toll on relationships. I like looking around the corners of the world and traveling light, with nothing to tie me down. I'm like a dog who jumps the fence at every chance, running through neighborhoods, tongue hanging out, smelling new things and sometimes getting rebuked by a skunk. I guess that not everyone shares this wanderlust. As I near the end of my doctoral program, the thing that has held me in Oklahoma will disappear. I find myself at an uncomfortable crossroads. I have solid relationships in Oklahoma. I know some very good people here. I love some people. I am a supportive friend and I have supportive friends here. I am a known quantity in my professional life. This is where I learned to be an adult. This is where I know the good sushi restaurants and where to find Ethiopian food that will make you poop funny for three days and this is where I know to go when my heart hurts. But I am also a fearful person and in some ways immature. Perhaps if I stay someplace for too long, then that place will define me. I will look around and ask "Is this as good as it gets?" and I'm afraid of the answer. So the open road calls. Run...run away...

So I have mentally hunkered down in a corner lately to try to figure things out. I don't know where I'm going to be in six months. It could be here. It could be Ada, Port Angeles, Oregon or Rome or any point on the map. I feel uncomfortable letting people get too close right for fear of hurting them or me if I leave. Maybe that makes me selfish; maybe that makes me unselfish. Maybe that just makes me cautious or maybe I'm just a scared little girl looking for excuses.

When I was 18, I wanted to go away to college. I had a boyfriend that I stayed in the area for. The guy is long gone and as it turns out, so am I. I didn't want to stay in that small town. Since I'm always coming and going and on my way somewhere, I think I don't have time to have relationships that are lasting. I sure don't think anyone would want to follow me around the world. Eleanor is easy but it's hard for me to own a dog because I can't go too far for too long.

I'm alone a lot by choice. It's the nature of my work as a writer and teacher and easier than speaking to people face to face, which is often exhausting for me. I don't know if I'll ever pull myself out of this and I don't know what it will take for me to commit to one time and place and situation and stay there for more than two years. I wonder if that is in me or if I will always be a gypsy and a wildflower, a dandelion seed blowing in the wind.


3 comments:

  1. I also get the wanderlust, and in May the thing keeping me here will be gone too. I feel I need a complete reboot, to be taken out of my comfortable surroundings of friendships and safety nets. It's scary, but if I don't make the leap I think I might flip out. Now I just have to figure out where to go and how to get there.

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  2. I've lived in Oklahoma for 36 years & it has yet to define me. I have always had wanderlust, I just don't know how to leave. I admire you're ability to just pack up & go. If people are truly your friends, it doesn't matter where you are in the world. Leaving a city doesn't have to equal leaving your friends. I have friends that I only see every 5 years or more & when we get the chance to hang out, it feels like we were never away from each other. Never be afraid to open yourself up to those you love. It's how you know who is true.

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