My first—or most remembered—time of this was when I was 20 years old. I was sitting in a McDonalds, next to the play area my nanny kids were roaming in, scribbling furiously on a handful of napkins. I professed of lost love and a broken heart, and promised to never fall prey to such antics again.
Since then, some of my fondest proclamations and wonders have come from said scribble and odd scraps of paper. Today it’s on my boarding ticket for Atlanta. And today my revelation is this: I’ve released my dreams of travel up to God and finally agreed to be done. Done with the nomad life, done with running, done with the confusion of not knowing where I belong (but certainly knowing where I don’t).
And although I’m sitting on an airplane in one of my favorite places—a puffy clouded sky—I feel more at peace about the word home than I maybe ever have in my life.
I released the tight grip I had on my future, the one full of roaming and newness and few looks back at the past. I let go of all that, and in turn got peace. A calm heart. A fresh set of eyes to appreciate the mountain ranges cocooning my hometown in cozy and daring glory.
I had to come to terms with myself to really come to terms with the world.
Like my 20-year-old promise of never falling prey to love, I somewhere along the way also promised myself to never fall prey to normalcy. I was too good for that. My passport told me I was too good for it, as did my wanderlust. And for a very long time, I re-shaped my puzzle piece to fit whatever was better than normal in my eyes. I lived beyond my country’s borders for a year, fully believing I could do so forever. Yes, my passport whispered it, but so did my pride.
My pride was wrong.
Because it can’t be about the freedom of foreign lands if you’re running from your roots, your personhood.
There’s this phrase, this curly cursive quote that says something about preferring to own little to see the world than owning much and seeing little. And for a while, I raised my fist in a rebellious “hell yes!” sort of way and thought back to the boxes at my parents’ house in triumph.
I’m recognizing both the brilliance and the silliness of that quote. If you really think about it, both things are possessions. They just look drastically different. You could buy a giant house and fill it with things, clothes, parties. Or you could buy a very expensive piece of paper to board a plane for land on the other side of the globe. But either way, both experiences—both lives—are about possessing. Having, seeing, holding, more more more.
Here’s what I’m coming to find out: experiences are grand and life changing (and I’m sure so is buying a giant house, though I have no experience in this), but it’s about the people. It’s always been about the people, and it always will be.
Perhaps we should live less by the cute cursive statements plastered all over our 21st century lives and live more by the relationships we’ve chosen to invest in. I don’t think I’m anywhere near the end of my life, though my birthday next week feels all too giant of a number, and relinquishing desires to wander feels a bit like a death.
But I sure hope that when I’m old and weathered, I remember more the people I loved—even if I lost—than the countless adventures. Better yet, may I remember the adventures I had with people, the ones where we laughed late into the night or let the wind whip our hair in our faces as we sang at the top of our lungs.
I think people scare me less now because I’m finally starting to embrace myself, without the title of “world traveler.” Today is a very kind day, and tomorrow may not be as nice. But I do hope for more days like this one in the future; days filled with you and me and peace about who we are as people and friends regardless of our bucket lists.