Wondering About Wandering


I sit here in my lovely apartment, the glass door opening for the cool spring evening air, a favorite CD playing in the background, a pizza cooking in the oven, a gin and tonic with ice sitting in a mason jar next to my computer. I am happily and cozily at home.

Lately, though, I have been thinking of traveling and moving and wandering. And not just dreaming about it, but exploring and looking to see what that might look like. What would it take to live abroad? What would I need to take a really long hike? Would I be able to live and work on the go? What does that look like? How can I pay for it? Am I brave enough? Could my dream life look like my real life? Could I live in a van and drive across the country?

I think about migration, and the bravery of people moving to distant shores. I realize that sometimes this is about economic necessity, a gamble, a last ditch effort to escape persecution, to find economic stability, to find a better life. I think about people who have been forcibly moved from their native lands: Africans being stolen from their homes and taken to other countries as slaves, Native Americans being removed from their lands and forced onto reservations far from their homes or forced onto lands much smaller than their own. Voluntary migration is very different than displacement.

Do I want a trip? A move to a new city? A move to a new continent? A more mobile life? A long, long backpacking trip?

Both of my sisters have lived and worked abroad. One sister is doing that now, and I am envious. A close friend whom I have known since college has spent several years teaching and living in China. A work colleague from a few years ago chucked everything into a storage container and moved to South America for a few months. One of my good friends lives and travels for work, going home on the weekends.

I have taken a few leaps in my life, but nothing super brave or out of the ordinary. I went to northern Wisconsin from northern New Mexico, but it was still within the safe confines of a residential college: classes, meals, and work all within easy reach. I lived for a few years in the Twin Cities, but dear college friends were close by. When I moved to Colorado, I worked in Boulder, a town that had been part of my growing up years, and the city that my dad and stepmom lived near. I moved to Albuquerque a few years ago, but it is a city that has always felt like home, and the big city of my childhood.

Can I make home wherever I go? Can I find a new direction? A profession in a different country? Am I brave enough to be an expatriate for a bit or a long while? Can I make the logistics work? What do I need?

A couple of weeks ago I got the renewal notice from my landlord. Weirdly, that letter gives me wanderlust. Do I renew for a few months or a year? Do I take a bit to pay off some bills so I can travel? Do I try to find a job abroad that will pay off bills while I live somewhere exotic?

I have a couple of weeks before the deadline to renew my lease. There is a lot of brainstorming and dreaming to do. I want to make a couple of phone calls to friends for advice and insight. I need to renew my passport and update my resume.

Dreaming can turn to doing. Wondering can turn to wandering.

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