transitions | on community vs. wanderlust.

I’m terrible at transitions. Horrible. The days leading up to one I’m a frantic mess, trying to tie up every loose end, say my goodbyes, and prepare for whatever is coming up. Then for weeks after I’m always an emotional mess and I always forget why.

There’s a reason for this that’s taken me years to figure out – transitions, in my life, are related to two very separate values I hold: community and wanderlust.

Community: Growing up in rural Maine, it’s hard not to have and hold this value as deep in your heart as any value can be. Growing up I always knew I wanted to live in small town. I love knowing people everywhere I go, I want the bartender or barista to already know what I want, I like having friends of all ages – from toddlers to the elderly, I need my family. The second I land anywhere my roots are already establishing. I travel deep, not far. I don’t like to sight see, I like to investigate cultures. My favorite part of traveling to Tanzania was delving into the small community around me: which people filled what roles, what people ate, what they did for fun, who their families were, the social quirks – and then finding my place.

Wanderlust: Again, growing up in small-town Maine, it’s hard not to dream of the world beyond Boston. Traveling has impassioned me since I was a child. A hunger to understand other cultures led me to raise my own money to send myself to El Salvador at 15. This life changing experience led me to attend the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa 3 years later, and then to study wildlife management in Tanzania the year after that.

 

sweet-home-alabama

“You can have roots and wings, Mel.”
– Jake, Sweet Home Alabama
(only the best movie ever created…)

As I prepare for our road trip departure on April 1st I feel the impending, and familiar, value-collision-stress. My roots are so deep in Carlisle that it feels like I’m going to college all over again – only this time there aren’t winter breaks. With an undefined plan that leads west I have to face the fact that I have no idea when I’m going to see the people and places here again.

Yesterday, I went to my favorite cafe for the last time. I got lunch with my favorite professor for the last time. I had my last waitressing shift at Andalusia. I said goodbye to the best regulars I’ve ever had as a waitress. Today, I said goodbye to the kids I babysit for the last time. In the coming weeks I’ll have my last day at work, say goodbye to some of my greatest friends, say goodbye to Dickinson, to my favorite bar, to the trails I frequently run, etc. etc. etc.

And it’s not just Carlisle. Leaving the east coast means moving further from home. This past weekend I saw my best high school friends in New York City. We had an amazing time together in the big city, and I know for certain I’ll see them again, but it could be years before the four of us are all together at the same time. In two weeks I’ll spend time with my parents before, again, I have to say goodbye for the foreseeable future.

I’m de-rooting again, and it hurts. But at the same time – I’m so ready. I hate repetition. Adventure is always on my mind. This road trip is everything I want and need right now. Wanderlust has me tight in it’s grip. After seeing so many other countries through my education I’m ready to see America up close and personal – deep, not far.

But even though I’m bad at transitioning, I also love the raw emotion it brings up. I’m forced to face how much I love the community around me, and how much it loves me. I’m reminded of how much work and love I’ve put into my life here. Then, I get to look at my future and be proud of my decisions not to settle, to live fully, and embrace being young. I get to look forward to putting roots down somewhere else.

Communities in my life so far:

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5 thoughts on “transitions | on community vs. wanderlust.

  1. So funny that you thought to write about this because it’s exactly what I’ve been feeling lately.

    These past few weeks, my heart has been breaking. It sounds silly to write it – but I’m suddenly so deeply upset about growing up. I’ve got this “never going to get to go back” feeling about so many things in my life. I’ve wanted to pause and relive years of my life – not because I want to change anything, but because I know they’ll never happen again.

    I want to go to Disney World with my family one last time, even though realistically, we wouldn’t enjoy it the same way we did as kids. I want to go camping and write on the rocks at Bailey Brook – even though I couldn’t stomach a cherry coke if I wanted to anymore. I want to go back to staying up ALL night long for three nights in a row during summer sleepovers – even though I’m tired by 9:00 most nights now. I want to live under the same roof as my parents and two sisters – even though I’ve got my own apartment now, Carly is at school, and Ally has her own house!

    Do you get that feeling, too? Of everything changing around you? I don’t know where this all came from, but it’s such a bittersweet nostalgia.

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    1. All the time. The 20s are going to fly… and I don’t like it!! It makes sense that growing up would hit you, and me, slowly in that way. It’s a reality, but we try to focus on the present, so it sneaks up on us unrecognized until it’s overwhelming. I miss you! Chat this weekend? SEE YOU NEXT WEEKEND.

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  2. I so relate to your duality. I am originally from a small town in North Georgia but I always wanted to see the world. As a Federal employee I lived in Maine, North Dakota, Wyoming, Nevada, Washington, DC, Afghanistan and back to Maine to retire. About every two years I had to leave everything behind and start over, but as heart rendering as that was there was always the excitement of what lay around the bend. Now that I am retired I am beginning to chaff a little. I feel the old wanderlust rising up. While I’ll always live in Maine I hope my opportunities to travel will continue. I have one piece of advice. Make every place you live your hometown. Embrace it and love it and grieve when you leave it and it will always bring a smile to your face when you remember it.

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