I woke up this morning feeling the road in my blood. I don’t leave for another week, but the itch has returned. I got it last year before I went backpacking in Europe, and the year before that when I took off for Mexico. It’s this tingling uncertainty and it’s as familiar as an old friend’s homecoming. Strange how wandering can feel like a homecoming. Sleeping in tents, cars, and the occasional motel that I’ve never seen before can seem so familiar. But with the itch, comes something altogether new for me.
The usual lightness of leaving is now laden with this terrible weight that I’m not used to. The ache of leaving a place I’ve finally found to call home. Is this what kids felt like when they moved out of their parents house? Or left after college? My leaving has always been so full of anticipation for the next thing, that I rarely felt loss. It sounds awful and unfeeling even as I write it, but it wasn’t because family or living situations were bad. It was just that my curiosity burned through my soles until the only thing left for me was leaving.
But now as I’m packing boxes and bags up to send to my parents house for the summer, I feel like a young tree being pulled from the ground. When did I start to feel home here? Why am I already jealous of the banana pancake Saturdays and Coney Island Sundays of our Harlem home this summer? I’m sure there will be pancakes in Arlington, and summer fairs in Memphis. I’m sure Kate and I will have an unforgettable time driving through our country.
Unforgettable and wonderful to be sure, but it’s still there. The painful humiliation of my roots being out in the air, clumps of dirt still clinging to my base. That part of me wants home. But the rest of me? I feel the road in my blood. The bittersweet fate of one filled with longing is the pain of leaving overpowered by the hope of finding. C.S. Lewis described it best with the german word “sehnsucht” as “the inconsolable longing” in the human heart for “we know not what.”
So one week left, and this is where I find myself. Packing and sleeping on couches and cooking creatively with the rest of my groceries until early next week when I go to see my parents for a few days. Closer closer closer still.