End of service in sight, I’m being shredded by conflicting urges. A wanderlust pulls at my feet, shoelaces, ponytail as it whips in the air on my runs. It trips me in any direction, spinning me around for the sake of yet another city, journal entry, photograph, running event. My headphones, their connection broken on one side, emphasize the lack where I could be hearing the crashing of waves as I run along the river in Budapest until the absence is all I can think about. The screaming of adventures to be had reaches a shrill screech that leaves me deprived of any sense of direction yet feverish and itching to move until I throw open the windows in my new apartment and listen to the haunting sound of night trains passing through. Their mournful hooting brings the quiet whispering of the familiar that beckons in the crisp night air, reminiscent of an Illinois frost.
Fears tug and scratch on either side; If I go straight home am I ordinary? If I run home immediately after living abroad, does it negate my separation by revealing a yearning for the familiar, showing that there were indeed rough times or that, mentally, I was home all along? But then, with what speed is it ok to return from a new culture without being seen as fleeing? If I continue to move, am I running from something I’d rather not face? Rarely have I met a volunteer who joined the program simply for the experience; there’s always an ulterior motive, conscious or subconscious, ranging from a desire to change or save the world to the less noble resume padding. On several occasions it has crossed my mind that perhaps, in arriving I was running, making the only literarily (and, if the idea behind mimesis is correct, literally) appropriate next step a return to the abandoned.
The expansive horizon of possibilities has washed over me, suddenly and with surprising force. Perhaps I hit the trifecta, the perfect combination of non-fiction adventure memoirs, personal travels, and boundless optimism, catalyzing my wandering desire. A through-hike of the Appalachian Trail seems a logical next step, never having been seriously considered before. Uprooting my life to live a clandestine year in Budapest makes perfect sense after a brief three day visit. Reckless abandon seems to be the feeling I’m trying to embrace, something akin to what I felt visiting friends at College of Santa Fe when we went cliff jumping. Every fiber tense with the natural urge to hold back, there was something intoxicating in breaking with logic and literally throwing oneself off a cliff. The water’s cushioning presence in no way detracted from my vertiginous tumbling through the air, I tell myself, so why should home? After all, the only reason I leapt was my security in the knowledge that the water would be there at the end of my plunge.
*Music: “The Quick & the Dead” -Bedouin Soundclash