Sometimes I feel like I’m two different people inside one body. It’s like my soul is divided in two, each yearning for a life opposite from the other.
This can make things interesting, but mostly it’s frustrating.
My greatest love, the center of my universe and the most important thing to me now and forever is my family. That will never change.
But then, I have this secret lover, this one I can’t be with. I think about ‘him’ in stolen moments, I long for his warm embrace, when my mind wanders this is where it goes… but we can’t be together. Not at all right now, and in the future… I can’t be sure.
This other love is travel.
I’m a little ashamed to admit it, actually. My life here is pretty great – I love my son and my fiance, I love where we live, I get time each week to read and write which nourishes my creative soul, and I have wonderful friends both online and off.
But when I’m walking through the mall and I pass the travel agent, my heart lurches: part of me has to fight the urge to grab my passport and head straight to the airport.
Whenever I’m pointing out a plane flying overhead to my son, the moment is bittersweet: he is delighted, which fills my heart with joy – but I’m also envious of those lucky enough to be on board.
This isn’t because I want to escape, or run away (although I certainly have brief moments where I feel like that). It’s because travel, like a lover I cannot be with, excites me so deeply. It meets the urges that my normal life can’t – the urge for inspiration, adventure, growth.
This morning I watched this video and was immediately inspired. I have this weird obsession with small spaces, and often find myself dreaming of having my own little van. To me this is the ultimate form of freedom: being able to drive off and park anywhere, to write, dream, sleep, explore and just be – alone.
But being mama means I can’t do that – not right now, anyway. So instead while I drift off to sleep at night I picture my little van – the one I will have one day – and figure out just how I will arrange everything inside. It will be my little haven, my little travelling church where I worship at the altar of creativity, adventure, freedom, inspiration and solitude.
As for my bigger travel dreams, they are on hold. This is tough for me. I don’t have the financial means to travel now anyway, though, so that certainly makes things easier.
But I long for travel. I try not to think about it too much because it stirs a very real ache inside me, something that can be physically felt, deep down.
So what does this say about me? That I don’t love my family, that I don’t really want this life I have created for myself?
Not at all. When I was single in my early twenties (prime travel time – no strings attached) I did not travel. Instead, I searched high and low to find a man to help me feel secure. Travel wasn’t really on my radar because I had loads of freedom – what I needed was security.
And now, I have loads of security. And I long for freedom. It’s the old ‘grass is always greener’ situation.
But I know something now that I never knew before: having this security in the form of a lovely home, some land, a supportive partner, a son, a creative practice, a routine and structure – this all allows me to appreciate freedom. If I had all that freedom, I would not be enjoying it for long – I’d be aching for security. It’s a complete paradox.
I will always have these two conflicting sides to my personality – the two conflicting needs of freedom and security. I think we all do, to a certain extent. No one wants full security without freedom and vice versa.
For me, travel is only exciting because I know I’ve got a lovely, safe home to return to. That home allows me to go out into the world and explore. My home is a good place because it’s a retreat from the world, a place to rest and recover from being out and about. In that sense, I need both sides of the coin.
So it comes down to balancing these two parts of my personality. To enjoying my home life, and traveling when I can. For now, that travel is local – usually very local. In fact, most of my travel is not physical – it’s travel I take through books, through writing, through creating and exploring ideas. My mind is travelling while my body is not. Creativity and learning, writing and reading – these are the closest things I have found to quell that urge inside me to travel. They allow me to keep that ache at bay, for now at least.
And one day, when my kids have grown older and I’ve spent many years as a homebody, the pendulum will swing the other way and I’ll find my way out into the world, to stretch my legs and wander elsewhere, to explore beyond the walls of the home and reconnect with the other part of my soul.
But for now, I choose this.