I never question my wanderlust. That sudden need when I glance out of the window and see the sunlight and just need to go. To walk and run and drive and move.
This has led to picnics and sudden hikes, and occasional big trips. But more often than not – lately – jobs, laziness, student loans and chronic depression have put my traveling urges in their place.
So it's not very often that I indulge that desire anymore. Maybe what I'm about to say is really the overdue result of suppressing my internal need to wander for too long.
This weekend, I'm moving across the country.
This is not an exaggeration. My tiny family (my husband-to-be and two dogs) is packing up and driving from North Carolina to Portland.
Across the country.
Across. The. Country.
Before you ask: No.
No, I do not have a job waiting for me in Oregon.
I do not have family there.
My husband does not have a job, nor family, there.
There is no emergency or best friend waiting for us there.
And no, we've never been there.
But this week we are eloping, packing up our dogs, selling our shit, and driving across the country because we can.
Because North Carolina is too small, too southern, too religious, too traditional, too boring for us. Because Portland, Oregon is the food capitol of the world and there are few things we enjoy more than endless varieties of fun, delicious, authentic foods. Because I've been out of college for four years and still work at Old-fucking-Navy, and I'm never going to find a real job here, and his job can go anywhere, so why the hell not. Because even with all the hipsters, neck beards, and plaid, Portland feels like it could be us. Because manifest destiny. Because we don't have kids or commitments or anything to force us to stay here, so why stay? Because why not go on a crazy cross-country trip with two dogs in a tiny marshmallow car and start over completely fresh and new in a place that looks fantastic? Because life is short and the world is big and there is so much to do!
For the last week, the thought creeps up on me in the middle of the night of all the things we'll be leaving behind. It's a hollow pit opening up in my stomach to snap at me from the inside.
We're leaving our family here on the east coast, and 99% of our friends.
We are, in a very real sense, leaving our world behind. We are heading straight towards the unknown like a very hungry, terrified bullet train filled with comic books and puppies and maxed out credit cards.
This could be a huge mistake. Or it could be the best decision of our lives. Or... it could just be a really cool trip. I try to keep my mind on that possibility of complete normalcy. Maybe it will be just like any other move.
But what's pulling me back is the fear.
The long drive, the unpredictable weather, the strangers, the mountains, slippery roads, crazy drivers, medical emergencies. I'm a paranoid person. A trip this big is going to get to me. I'm still in the excited stage right now, but the night before the drive I'm going to be crying into my vacuum-packed pillow while I flip through Facebook photos of my life here.
Packing is hard for a move this big with so little money. I've packed the clothes I want to keep, the important little things, and I'm working hard to sell and give away everything else. But everything else are the things I use every day. Dishes, books, pillows, hair products, shelves. These things are scatter all over our studio, being used or waiting for someone to take. It's a mess and I don't think it's supposed to be like this.
It's somehow harder to pack things you don't want to keep than the things you love the most. Those were first. Favorite clothes, books, photos from the walls, small family heirlooms and both of our diplomas.
I bring home more and more boxes and try to categorize my life based on what I need and what I don't. What is important? What makes me happy? What is replaceable? What would I miss the most?
I told myself I'd spend more time with my family, while they're only an hour away and not three days. But I've only visited once. I'll see them once more to drop off a few things for storage, then again to celebrate my elopement. After that I will be sleeping on blankets on my apartment floor and waiting for the big day.
I've tried to see the friends I'll miss the most, but it's a weird time of year and everything's busy. But everyone promises to visit... as if we were only a day-trip away.
This – here – is my world. I'm leaving it behind. On purpose.
Who does that?
Right; I do.
I kind of have to keep reminding myself of that.
I do this.
I want to, and I am.
I force myself to take deep breathes and fight the urge to crawl into a ball under a pile of blankets. I really need to pack those.
I remind myself that I'm setting out on this journey because I want change. I want to live my simple, plain life somewhere that excites me. I don't want to just live where I live, I want to love where I live.
So I'm doing this. I feel it in my gut and in the tingling of my fingertips.
I feel my throat tighten and my nerves tremble, but I also feel my blood rush and my heart practical leap from my chest. Jack Kerouac said “the road is life.” I'm ready to live.