Saturday, October 1, 2016

Back to Life as I Know and Love It

Almost two months ago my dental debacle was completed. Suddenly I had my complete face back again, smile, grimaces, and all. My world enlarged to its normal size once again, no longer truncated by missing teeth and I reclaimed my usual enthusiasm for life and all it has to offer.

It was a source of complete exhilaration to talk and laugh without covering my mouth, speaking to strangers and going outside of what had become my comfort zone. Within a month I was on a plane to New York to reacquaint myself with one of the people who had been a mainstay of kindness during the past months, a cousin whom I hadn't seen in fifty years.

I'm still warmed by our visit,  by the friendship that we're claiming, and by the ties with family that were never a part of my life when I was growing up. It's a gift that I never expected and am overjoyed to have received.

Along with this came a rekindled love of the city that I was born in, in a section I'd never explored before. Although Manhattan has become bland, Queens is more vibrant than any other part of America that I have yet seen. I wandered through the Chinese city of Flushing, the invigorating diversity of Jackson Heights, and the windblown shore of Far Rockaway, and began planning my next visit long before I checked in for my flight back to Seattle.

Los Angeles is my next destination where I'll be staying in the still-Mexican community of Boyle Heights, exploring that as well as many other parts of that far-flung and exciting city. Although summer is almost gone in Seattle, I'm extending it through these journeys, chasing the heat and light that I incompletely enjoyed from April to August.

But my withdrawal from the world and my rediscovery of it has pointed out a very jolting truth. I have lived in my new home and have explored my new neighborhood since the beginning of this year. I've enjoyed both the house and the area around it but the novelty is wearing off. It's been replaced by a feeling of familiarity and comfort; I've found "my" corner of the living room, "my" favorite walks and places to eat. I'm beginning to recognize people in the neighborhood and we greet each other as we pass by. And as this began to happen, I began checking up on different cities on Craigslist.

"Philadelphia!" I began announcing to friends. "I can afford it and it's only an hour or two from New York."

Last night I lay awake, juggling finances in my head, trying to figure out the most economical way to move me and the cat across country. Then this morning something slapped me hard. Every time I begin to feel at home somewhere, I look for ways to move away from it.

I have no idea why this is so deep-rooted but I've felt this way ever since I can remember. It's not just a flaw. It's an illness. And it really has to stop.

Traveling doesn't mean a prelude to uprooting--or it shouldn't. I've called myself a geographic trollop but that's too gentle a description. In truth this is more akin to geographic nymphomania and it isn't cooling with age.

But it is time to let myself learn that comfort is not a prison sentence and that a trip has a beginning and an end, both of which are equally satisfying. As I approach 68, this is my goal--to go somewhere, enjoy it, and come home without saying "I want to live there."