On July 23, 2012, I will have completed another first. This will be the first year that I have spent 365 consecutive days in one country. At the age of 22, I am finally planting roots – ish. I have never been more terrified in my life. When a close friend of my mind simply stated the obvious while we were at lunch some time in early April I had no verbal response, but a strange sense of fear rippled from my head to my toes and back up.
To explain why such fear runs through me, let me briefly explain my childhood. The most concise way to describe my life thus far would be military-brat, without the military. In fact, capitalist-hippies raised me. Yes, they exist. My father worked as a “professional economist” for General Motors, analyzing markets as they developed and then forecasting the sales of the regions, while my mother played with real estate and non-profit organizations. Wanderlust had struck the two of them in your classic university lecture hall, he the professor and she the student. I need not say more. Somewhere along the line I came about. Because of their tendencies, I thought that moving was a part of life. Every 18 to 24 months my belongings were inventoried, categorized, and packed into no less than ten boxes.
Last week it was time for me to move again. It had been seven months since I had last moved, but with graduation comes the end of the apartment lease and a need to find a new home. With every contract that I read and apartment that I toured, another tab was left open on my browser. Flights and hotels in: Tahiti, Costa Rica, Granada, Morocco, Japan, Tibet, Madagascar, and New Zealand are still open. To the kids that grew up on Maple road in the same house that has their height change etched into the door, I think I envy you. But I am also terrified of where you come from. Yet another crossroad no matter how cliché it may sound.
So now I am left to ponder. Do I grow up, apply to real jobs that require real commitment and a real non-P.O. Box address, or do I continue to flirt with the vagabond tendencies that have so far controlled my life?
This might be why the third most popular book bought during the graduation season is Oh, The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss. All of us who have walked around in the recycled plastic bottle known as regalia are facing our own cliffs and ridges. Or, for that matter, this next phase of time may be entirely about your root system. Those of us who move home and begin to work in the community around a place that has been embedded in our history define one group of planting. The rest of us branch. There is nothing wrong or right about either option.
And here we are. A conglomerate of people all linked together by a variable means of separation all heading in the same general direction. Forward. In some ways, that is the blanket that we share to comfort all of us. There is something to be said in the power of numbers.
So now as I look at my ten neatly stacked and profusely organized boxes, life seems pretty simple. I can choose to unpack them and share my belongings with my surroundings, or I can see how far these ten boxes will take me in direction and time. As of right now, I haven’t closed the tabs on my browser looking at flights to distant regions of the world, nor have I thrown out the applications to grad school and jobs. For right now, I can still have all of the qualities of the in-between. As scary as it might be looking forward there is always the comfort that you have not left everything behind yet. For the kid that has never planted a tree, that is the most alleviating feeling I can find.