After a few years in a place, I need a new place. Mind you, I don’t “want” a new place, I need one. I need somewhere new. I need to look around, get lost a few times and find my way back. I need to expose myself to this new kind of people; their idiosyncrasies and attitudes. I need to learn their words, and their accent. I need to do what I can to feel a part of this new place, and I need to take it all in, until suddenly there is nothing more for me there.
That’s how I feel right now. I feel like I took everything I could from Boston. The best experiences, the best sites, and the BEST, BEST people. I know the city like the back of my hand. And now it’s mine. When I leave a place behind I don’t lose it, I just put it on a shelf next to all my other places (read: prizes.)
It happens every few years of being in one place. I first noticed it when I moved back to Sri Lanka after high school. That was the 4th move since I was born. I’ve moved another 3 times since then.
The problem is its one thing to move around when you’re a child, or even in college. But once you’ve “settled down” into a career and a job, with the mundane regularities of bills, and school loans- it’s not as easy to pack up and move halfway across the world on a whim. Not to mention the responsibilities to my family and siblings as an added barrier if you will. (But listen, turning my back on my family is NOT even an option worth mentioning. I would never do it.)
“Nothing like the feeling of home.” But what is that feeling for someone who has many “homes” (which also means she has none?)
Wherever I sleep at night is home for me. Tonight Salem is Home. Tomorrow Reading will be home. Boston is home. Matara is Home. New Delhi was home for a while, Wellington for another while. Home is where I rest my head at night.
But the true “feeling home” for me is the process of moving to my next destination. It’s not the destination but the process that feels like home. The anticipation is home. The excitement is home. The planning, and travelling and packing and “tying up of loose ends” are home.
About a week ago I moved temporarily to Salem Mass, to House-sit for a friend of mine for 2 weeks. Salem is a town I have never actually visited, despite it being a mere 15 minute drive from home. I settled into the house figuring out the plumbing, the electronics, and the sleeping arrangements per directions. My friend has a gorgeous home; lots of skylights and open spaces, and some unique features, like hidden rooms, and open-ish floor plans. I walked around the town, down to the waterfront, passed the old town house (where I pictured many a hanging and burning took place.) I located the liquor store and the closest convenience store. I found a couple of bars I would like to spend some time in. The atmosphere is electric in one, and chilled out in the other. I explored this town a little; the shops, the museum and the history.
It helped. I felt my soul soothed by the newness, my mind rejuvenated. I talked about “listening to yourself” here, and one thing I’ve always known to recognize is this restlessness within me. It’s a feeling I’ve understood for a while now, but only recently found the word for: Wanderlust.
It’s been a transformative summer. A summer of letting go of the past, letting go of some memories, relationships, and attachment; and finding space in myself for something new. I found myself again. Amidst the chaos of titles and responsibilities- friend, lover, girlfriend, sister, adult- I had forgotten who I was deep down. The Flanagan Wedding surely did a number on me, opening up my whole world to me again. It made me want to get out, to do more, to see more, to LIVE more.
I feel like I’m running out of time, and I don’t want wake up in 5 years to find myself, working in a cube, married with 3 children and a dog. I don’t want to just blend into a life of mediocrity. I want more. And I have always wanted more. To meet more people, to see more places. Travelling isn’t enough, I want to LIVE in different places, immerse myself 150% into a community. Give of myself there, and leave a little spot of energy where someone might walk through and feel that this place is really loved.
And I love my places. I love Sri Lanka; the entirety of the island, with all its faults, and human rights violations, and wars, and petty mind numbing attitudes. I love Boston and New England, despite its harsh winters, its people are hard, but strong, and loyal. I love Wellington, as a place of teenage dreams, and mistaken realities.
I want to love a new place. I want to fall in love with a town, a city, a state. I want to breathe new air, and engorge my brain with new sights and sounds and flavours.
It is like a yearning, this need to move. It pumps inside my heart willing me to move my feet. It’s painful and powerful.