I asked The Grandmother the other day if she had ever had a desire to live in a different place. She’s lived in West Virginia all of her life, not in the same place, but almost. She said, pretty quickly, “No.” Every place I mentioned–New England, The West Coast, The South–she poo-pooed right away for one reason or another (too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough rain, weird people, volcanoes, tornadoes–you get the picture.)
It occurs to me that she is probably telling the truth. She is the type of person who likes routine, and the known. I wonder, though, if when she was younger she might have felt differently. I can remember when my dad moved away to southern Alabama (then Florida, then southern Alabama again, the Florida again, then southern………well, never mind) he made the comment, “I was due a change.” At the time I just blew that comment off, but now I’m starting to think he might have been on to something.
I would love to live in a different place. I don’t mean just a neighboring county, although at this point I’d take that. I’m talking a different place, with different people, a different climate even. I am suffering from an old-fashioned case of wanderlust.
Don’t scoff–our country wouldn’t exist without it, or at least not the country the way it is today. Why did people keep pushing west? Why did explorers ever set out in search of new lands in the first place? (I mean, besides to rape and pillage and plunder and destroy all of the native culture.) It’s simple: some people are happy to stay where they are forever, and some people want to move on, to see and try new things. I definitely belong with the latter.
I would offer a warning: beware of the Pacific Ocean. Once you see it, it will never let you go. At least that’s the effect it had on me. They say the Pacific has no memory, and maybe that’s true, but what they forgot to mention was though it has no memory, it will implant itself forever in yours. Now all I want is to live close enough to be able to see it whenever I want, to smell it and hear it and see if it as beautiful as I remember.
I hope no one would read this and think I hate where I live. Not at all. I’m not so blinded that I don’t realize the beauty of my home. People come from all over the world to walk across a bridge I drive over at least three times a week. They come to a park and photograph a grist mill that is five miles from my house, and that my husband once worked in as a tour guide. They pay hundreds of dollars to raft on the rivers that are but a few miles from my house, and my friends are their guides. I rake up and curse the leaves that the tourists drive for hours to see. I’ve hiked and biked the trails, driven the roads, eaten in the restaurants, and visited the parks. I know what’s here. It’s my home, and I love it. Here are some more reasons:
- We have no common natural disasters (The Grandmother had a good point, actually.) We don’t have hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or volcanoes. Although it’s fairly hot right now, we generally don’t have extreme temperatures.
- We really do have better manners than most people. I didn’t notice this until a recent trip to New York. Some people can make fun of us as hillbillies, but whatever–we say “excuse me,” you don’t, we’re smarter. So there.
- I have travelled to many, many, many different states, and here’s a news flash–there has been white trash in every single one. I’m not sure why other people don’t realize this. When I worked at the park a long time ago, a tourist (we called them tourons, but with great affection, I assure you) once asked me if we seriously had dirt floors in our houses. Really. I wanted to ask, “Do you have dirt floor in your house, dumbass?” Of course I didn’t, but I mean, come on! I worked in the tourism industry for years, and I swear to you I have met some of the biggest idiots I have ever met in my entire life, bar none. I’m talking people who couldn’t read maps, road signs, huge notices on walls, instructions on a toaster over, directions to their cabin, or instructions on how to fill out the camp-site reservation form, but we’re the hillbillies. Yeesh!
- I’m getting off topic here, so I’m cutting off this list.
So anyway, I’m not knocking my home. I could make a list of faults for you, but you could probably make a similar one about where you live, too. I think it’s just a desire to be somewhere different, but maybe that’s not all. Maybe it’s a desire to be someone different. It’s not that I want to take on a new personality (although there could be a good debate on that topic I bet) but the fact is, as long as I live here, I will always be perceived in a certain way. That’s one thing I would put on the list of faults, by the way: when you live in a small community, your family history is public knowledge. The people that surround me day after day will never allow me to change, or to be anything more than I am now. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go somewhere and define who I am by—-gasp!—–who I actually am, and not by what someone else expects me to be, or thinks I already am?
I don’t know if my wanderlust itch will ever be scratched. It’s a scary prospect to just pick up a life and move along, especially when it isn’t just your life you’ll be moving. But sometimes you have to do things, even if you are afraid. Sometimes, you’re just due a change.