Friday, August 7, 2009

Airplane Ramblings

The humming of the engine around me, the muffled buzz of people’s voices behind me, the scraping of the ice, popping open of soda cans, and the repetitious inquiry of the stewardess as she asks what people want to drink are all sounds that bring back thousands of memories to me.

I feel like my whole life can be defined by airports and airplanes. And here I sit again, on a airplane, on my way to Washington state to see my parents whom I haven’t seen in one year and eight months (not that I’ve counted or anything!).

As we took off, the song that has been with me in travel since I was at least 16 years old, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” was playing in my head. I found out recently that the composer of that song was a TCK. That made a lot of sense to me. Despite the sad mood of the words, “Leaving and I don’t know when I’ll be back again” there has always been a simultaneous uplift to me with those words. Leaving all I know, all that is familiar, going to the unknown. And is the unknown really that bad? Not always.

There are times when the words of that song have about broken my heart. Particularly, leaving Thailand when I was 18 to come back to the USA for college, splitting up with my friends, my life, my home, my parents, everything that I had ever known. Those were the words that kept running through my mind over and over and over again.

But those same words have haunted me consistently since that time. Sometimes in a joyful way—finally, leaving, going somewhere, getting out of the black hole that is my crazy current home—and sometimes in a sad way—leaving family, again, leaving a country or place that my heart still longs for very often—and sometimes those words are simply bittersweet.

Today they’re on the bittersweet side. The delicious taste of going back to one, sort of, home, seeing my parents, at least one good childhood friend of mine, even hitting a town that, while not necessarily somewhere I define as home at least has the attraction of holding childhood memories and experiences.

The bitter side is that I travel alone. My dear husband couldn’t come with me on this trip; the downfall of being grown up, I guess. He has a new job and between that and complications with tickets and money, we decided it was the wiser (I hate that word sometimes) decision for me to go on my own. And so I left him today, but I’ll be back in just over a week. And in the meantime, I plan to relish getting away. Not from him, but from our town, from the humdrum life that sometimes wants to drive me insane.

I still find it difficult to believe that I have lived in the same town for ten years. I find it even more difficult to believe that I have lived in the same house for five of those years. There are days when I feel like my restlessness is going to overpower me. Can’t I just pack up what we need, sell everything else, move to another city, another country, heck, I’d even take another county!

Don’t get me wrong. I love my house. I even like our town; it has it’s advantages. But I’m restless, and I find that restlessness grows all the time. As we talk more and more about moving away, settling somewhere else (probably not overseas—yet—but at least away from where we are), I realize how much I want that. It’s not that I relish selling our beautiful home or having to find new jobs, new friends, new habits, new lives. But I feel stagnant.

I blame my parents! How old was I when we first went overseas? How old was I when I took my first plane trip? How old was I when I took my first major driving trip, for that matter.

I was just a months old when we drove from Washington state, down through California, to the Grand Canyon, through Missouri, and Texas.

I was a few years when we flew to England for the first time to see my grandparents.

And I was three when we flew to Thailand and settled down to the country, the culture, and the life that would become my home for the next, more or less, 18 years.

And throughout those 18 years, we traveled. I was talking to a younger MK the other day, and she asked me how many places I’d lived. Truthfully, countries, I’ve only lived in two (unless you count two months in Uzbekistan studying dance as living there)—Thailand and the USA. But then of course there is the land of my mother, England. And that country holds a great deal of my heart even though we’ve technically only visited there.

Beyond that, I’ve been to 17 other countries (been being defined as having actually spent at least a day there—technically I’ve been to the Arab Emirates and Amsterdam to name just two other countries, but as I’ve never really gone outside of the airport, they don’t count.

It’s no wonder I have wander lust. It’s no wonder that even after ten years, I still don’t feel settled in our little town. It’s no wonder I sometimes get the urge to grab a plane ticket and just fly to somewhere, anywhere. Pick a country, I’ll go. It’s no wonder I’m obsessive about making sure my passport is up to date.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s just part of who I am. I’m a homebody. But I’m a wanderer. And if that’s not truly oxymoron, I don’t know what is.

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