-above painting by Lars Lerin
Cliffs. Crashing Waves. Dog. Cottage. Tea. Book. A bird flies over head. Cloud. Rocks. Wild grasses. A very gentle wind that let’s me know the planning is breathing.
These are just a few images that come to mind when asked by a client: “where to next?”
Those images are kept quiet in my brain while my mouth uttered: “Iceland, or maybe Greenland, or perhaps the Faroe Islands”.
The man looks at me confused: “Really?” He asks. “Why? What would you do once you got there?” he seems genuinely perplexed. For most travelers that are clients, it is about what I call merit badge travel. People want to collect a necklace of adventures that they can string together and bring out and show people. Look where I have been! At cocktail parties, perhaps they compare- who has been to the most exotic place? Whose top of list trumps the others? And in all fairness, I have been to so many places- Europe to Asia to the Arctic.
It is no longer about which additional I can add to my list.
I look at the man. I smile and say: “Mostly, I love nature and wide open spaces. Once I am there, I would sit and enjoy the vistas. I would hike and breath in the fresh air. I would explore charming small villages… meet the locals…”. He interrupts “I hear the people are nice”.
Yes, they are nice. And those I have met are a lot of fun, casual and relaxed. They tend to enjoy lively music. Reykjavik is known for a wild party life that goes into all hours of the night; some hotels have double panned Windows- it’s important to know which ones. But I am basing those views on encounters I have had with the West Nordic People when in years past, at the Vestnorden Travel Trade Show, a bunch of Faroese people might perhaps have had one too many glasses of wine or even Akvavit.. and could break out in loud national songs or even popular pop culture tunes…Yellow Submarine comes to mind.
My response to this man who stopped by for some spring break options but really wanted to talk about that trip to China he wants to take this year, is that- yes, the people are very nice. But in my mind I am thinking this place I want to go to, it’s not my next trip. It would maybe be a permanent and final move. Not just another trip. The quest to find home is important to me.
One might wonder: are you not already home?
No. Not really.
I have never really been home.
I have been visiting for long stretches of time.
I have borrowed a geographical location, but I plan to give it back sometime. After I have waited. When the time is right for “my time”.
Why do I say this?
I did not grow up here in the Twin Cities. I came here as an adult after college, my first adult job brought me here. And while I was wildly excited about the quaintness and historic charm of the capital city when I first arrived, I found fairly soon that the locals who have lived here their whole lives already have their intimate group of friends. I am mostly a work friend. I have one or two friends outside of work and I see them maybe once or twice a month (if I am lucky). But they are kind of set as well, they have lived here their whole lives and have their circle of family and friends. The truth is, I do not have one person in my life that lives nearby, that is a close intimate person who I feel comfortable calling any time, day or night. You know, that kind of friend.
I have very close acquaintances for whom I have a deep fondness and feel close. I look forward to these people checking into my life and I into theirs. We have lunch or after work dinner. But we don’t meet during the weekends. And perhaps, if I moved, I would be missed. But something tells me that it would be a fleeting emotion of missing me, and that this feeling would quickly dissolve.. within a fairly short time.
So this image response of the perfect physical location where I could find my bliss, I keep this quiet mostly. Because in my life, when I have entrusted my heart to another soul and have felt a sweet kinship with someone that fueled me each day and week with weekend outings, I find that the person checks out or declares a wish to leave my geographic area. One such friend for whom I have one of the strongest affections for, one day said to me: “I will move home because there is nothing for me here.”. She was referring of course to the fact that her family was home, and home was about 5000 miles from here. I understand this. Intellectually. But a little something inside me broke that day. “There is nothing for me here” echoed in my heart and soul for weeks afterwards.
It alerted me to an important fact. Right now, I have my parents. They are in their seventies and eighties. One day, they will be no more. When that happens, I will need to evaluate. Is there anything here for me? Anything to keep me here? Anyone to keep me here? If the answer is the same as it would be today, if today I should find myself orphaned, what will I do? Will I stay or will I go?
When no one needs me anymore, I will walk to the cliffs, close my eyes, listen to the birds and the waves, I will reach down and caress the silky hair of my sweet and only companion who sits on my lap (likely a papillon). On that hand crafted wooden bench I rest with my sweet companion, situated just outside my cottage front door, and I will gaze those majestic cliffs. I will drink a cup of tea, and read or write a book (or both).
These images have been following me around now for years. In some variation, most of my life.
And at times, as I drive to work, an occasional piece of the kaleidoscope image comes to the forefront of my mind, and I wonder: why is life about waiting? It feels like that for me. I wait on time to find that space to finally be able to do what drives me most, that one thing that fuels my passion, that one thing that brings me joy. I wait to find a space of peace that is perfect for me to sit, contemplate, breathe. For some reason, I must wait. I just hope that in my waiting, I don’t run out of time.