Wanderlust or Wanderlove?

It’s funny how perverse the human mind is. The things I crave the most – long-term love and stability – can only be found by achieving stillness in my life, planting roots and digging in and making myself a part of a real community, be it workplace, friendship network, or basic location.

Yet right now I am desperate to move somewhere new. I am planning and calculating how I can spend a year in another country.

I am an enigma unto myself.

The further irony is that I’m as happy as I’ve ever been in New York. I’ve been having a great time exploring new neighborhoods, for the first time my friendships are starting to solidify over  a diverse spectrum of groups, and I’m even getting a little work. I have the time and the money for the time being to enjoy NYC, and people to enjoy it with.

And I just want to go away.

I have this weird anxiety about travel: that I don’t do enough of it. That the world is far too big for me to see everything I want to see before I die. It makes me panicky. I did a silly Facebook travel challenge survey, and out of 100 places, I’ve only been to 31. If I only saw one of those places a year for the rest of my life, I would have to live to be 100! And frankly, I don’t even think it’s a particularly good list, there are many places NOT on it that I would prioritize.

While I was in Europe, one of my friends moved to New Zealand for a year. Every time he posted pictures of what he was seeing and doing, I went green with envy. Even though I was seeing beautiful things in Italy. And I’ve BEEN to New Zealand.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

I don’t know where this traveling addiction came from. My parents like to travel, but mainly in the United States and Europe. They don’t feel the need to see all the far flung corners of the planet. If we got into the nature versus nurture debate, I think this is an inherent nature thing. Then again, my nature is plagued by painful shyness and discomfort doing things alone, which further complicates the paradox of my needs and desires. Even when I’m traveling I never feel like I’m quite getting as much out of the experience as I should be.

I have been home from the ship for three months and I’m completely tweaked that I don’t have another trip in the works. It keeps me up at night. I’ve set an unreasonable goal that I need to be living somewhere else by September, and that is not a lot of time to get organized. And I know I’ll be so disappointed with myself if I can’t make it happen.

It feels necessary, to go. And I don’t understand why, because I really do love NYC. But I’m restless. I grew up in one house until I went to college, yet since graduating I’ve lived in four separate places, plus the six months on the ship.  In so many ways I’m a homebody, but for some reason I’m having trouble with the idea of settling down right now.

I’ve never had trouble with committing to people. I’ve stayed in relationships far longer than was healthy. I try to hold on to my friends with a grip that could suffocate them. But the idea of getting a long-term, full-time job, in a single place, freaks me out. I want to be free to be mobile.

I’m perfectly okay with the idea that I’ll never own a house. I might be okay if I never have a baby. But I do want to meet someone stable and supportive, and jumping around like this makes it hard to have anything more than transient relationships. You need to stay present in people’s lives to actually be a part of them, and checking out every few years means I have a string of friendships strewn across the country. So many people to miss. And no partner to share my passion for travel with.

Anyway, you can only fight your nature so much. So I’ll be trying to move again in September. And I’m going to see if I can take a little trip at the end of May. Maybe one day I’ll feel sated. Maybe I’ll want to have that baby and be grounded in one place to support it while it grows.

But for now… I gotta go.

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