Mine Is The Wrong Kind Of Lust

don't make me travel, why I stay put,

Image: babyoctopuss.deviantart.com

Let me explain.

My schoolteacher father had summers off, so my parents made the best use of that time. That meant teaching their children geography and history through travel. Each winter my mother started planning our frugal summer trips. She sat at the kitchen table with maps and guidebooks arrayed in front of her as she carefully plotted a route that maximized educational stops along the way. Old battlegrounds, restored villages, and scenic natural wonders were her priority. The other priority? No admission fees.

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why I don't travel,

One summer we traveled over 6,000 miles. Most days we had an early breakfast, drove for six hours, spent the late afternoon sightseeing in the steamy heat, then went on to a trailer park where our 15 foot Scotty was invariably the smallest trailer around. Other folks in these places looked like there were staying a few days. They sat in lawn chairs and chatted around campfires. My parents meant business. Ours was a carefully planned agenda which meant we kids showered in cement block restrooms and went to bed early, usually lying awake in the hot metal trailer listening to those other families laugh and talk under the trees.

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why I don't travel,

Our trips were strictly no-frills in every way. My parents spent next to nothing on food—not one fast food meal or restaurant. I ate a peanut butter minus jelly sandwich chased by Tang every day at lunchtime. They scouted out the cheapest gas and took only the most carefully considered photos in those pre-digital days. Miraculously they maintained family peace in very close proximity for weeks on end, although we kids found minor parental spats over directions and mileage calculations secretly hilarious.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents had wonderful motives. They piled three kids in a small car and showed us the country. But I was a lethargic and grumpy traveler. Hurtling down the highway with windows open (air conditioning allegedly reduced fuel economy) only aggravated my asthma and hay fever, plus I suffered the relentless car sickness. Yet I wasn’t sufficiently self-aware to let anyone know that I felt dizzy, nauseated, and short of breath. I longed for the comforts of home: library books, a familiar bathtub, my trusty bike, and some control over my own life. As soon as my mother got out the maps to start planning I felt nothing but dread, which I masked with a façade of eager anticipation lest I be called “ungrateful.” But every minute our car headed farther away from home seemed wrong somewhere in the center of my being. Until we returned I felt suspended from my own completeness—a weary, one-dimensional version of myself.

*

I refuse to travel,

Perhaps these long yearly trips, taken when I was unwell and unwilling, served to inoculate me against travel. As an adult I still struggle to feel wholly myself when I’m away. That marks me as seriously maladjusted. Wanderlust, or at least the urge to get away, is the norm. All sorts of well-meaning people mock non-travelers as people with no sense of adventure.

Oh sure, I long to go places. I’ve even traveled of my own volition. But I rail against the backward century in which I’ve been born, or perhaps the backward planet I’ve been born on, because I can’t adjust to the concept that it’s not possible to mosey over to Belarus or Uruguay or Finland this afternoon, have a wonderful lunch, meet some new friends and assure them that I’ll stop by next Friday. The problem isn’t the destination, it’s getting there. I know poets and sages say it’s all about the journey. I’ve journeyed, believe me. I say all of life is a journey, every single moment that we’re wide awake and fully participating in the process of living.

hermit's rationale, staying home, peace in place,

Besides, aren’t poets and sages all about being true to oneself? Being true to myself means giving in to the lust to stay rooted.

I experience a kind of delicious completion as I perform the simple rituals of life right here every day. I make cheese from our cow’s milk, walk the dogs, chop vegetables, work at my desk—-all in view of the fields and trees that sustain me season after season with their subtle, incremental changes.

I hope those of us who are truly rooted have something to offer this ever faster world. Our insights may be simple. I pay attention to the vegetable gardens, the beehives, to blackbirds convening in a clamor across the treetops. Changes I see are those that take place slowly and noticing them is part of the pleasure I find in being fully here. To me there’s soul-drenching nourishment that comes of contemplation, quiet, and service. Thank goodness we can fulfill the desires we choose, leaning eagerly toward the excitement of travel or to answering longings that serve a quieter nature.

You know where to find me. I’m right here.

*

staying home, anti-traveler, delights of home,

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is a writer and editor, perhaps due to an English professor's scathing denunciation of her writing as "curious verbiage." She's the author of "Free Range Learning," a handbook of natural learning and "Tending," a poetry collection. (lauragraceweldon.com) She's working on her next book, "Subversive Cooking" (subversivecooking.com). She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she is a barely useful farm wench. Although she has deadlines to meet she often wanders from the computer to preach hope, snort with laughter, cook subversively, talk to chickens and cows, discuss life’s deeper meaning with her surprisingly tolerant offspring, sing to bees, hide in books, walk dogs, concoct tinctures, watch foreign films, and make messy art.
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7 Responses to Mine Is The Wrong Kind Of Lust

  1. What a beautiful essay. Thank you for blessing my day, my way.

    Like

  2. kloppenmum says:

    I travelled, but I now love being at home. It’s a great place to be. I love rituals and
    familiarity. We will travel again, but not with urgency.
    It is said that the rushing around, noise and anxiety levels of our first three years of life give our brains the template of ‘normal’ stress, and we keep trying to recreate that same level throughout our lives. Perhaps, the stress levels of life accelerating over the past few generations can be explained this way. But I do wonder about the human cost.

    Like

  3. CaptiousNut says:

    And how bad would they flip out if they actually put the car’s AC on and noticed you had your window cracked open a few millimeters?!?!?!

    Like

  4. Michelle says:

    Oh my, your words couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I’ve just returned home from a 3 week trip to somewhere I really didn’t want to go. I’ve been this way ALL of my life. Anything more than a weekend is overwhelming and wearisome. I’m content at home. It’s where I know myself best and am happiest. While others may need to prowl the earth, I do not…and what could possibly be worrisome about that? :)

    Michelle

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  5. Hannah says:

    (I found this post through the link in your comment on Gene Lodgson’s essay on travelholism)

    I completely agree that it’s the travel time that ruins the fun of being away from home. If I could instantly tele-port myself between home and interesting countries, it would be much more appealing, without jet lag, body scans, and lost luggage. Years ago, I would have loved to make the pilgrimage on foot to Santiago de Compostela; I doubt that I could walk that far now, having already put many so many miles on the old feet.

    Being home, with its many projects, changing seasonal landscape and diverse natural habitat, is a real pleasure. I ‘travel’ through reading and dreaming, and through the occasional weekend of actually visiting people within my home province. Sometimes it’s sweet to get away, but even sweeter to come home.

    I enjoy your essays very much. Your writing speaks to my soul and spirit. I found your blog through Gene’s blog about a year ago. I now realize there are a lot of older entries which I am just discovering.

    P.S. My local bookshop is trying to order a copy of Tending for me.
    Hannah

    Like

    • You and I would make great teleportation traveling companions Hannah, zipping off to all sorts of places and yet home in time to water the plants and feed the chickens. I too travel too through reading, dreaming, friends, and imagination.

      Thank you so much for your kind words about my writing. I’d be glad to mail you a copy of the poetry collection. Happy to talk about it. Just get in touch with me via the contact form—you can find it on the black bar near the top of this page.

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  6. Hello,
    I also found this post on your blog via Gene Logsdon, but your name sounded so familiar…seems I’ve ready your book. Thanks for that and this piece of thoughtful writing. We (ma, pa and 6 yr old sister/brother twins) live on a wee bit of a farm and I adore the days when I don’t leave our property. What luck that we can meet though, in this place not quite in-between of the internet. Thanks for sharing!
    Tori

    Like

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