Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Where the heart is…

April 1st, 2009 | Josie

“One’s home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening – the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life – and can never find again.  After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.”  ~Lemony Snicket

I came to the realization quite early in life that I am capable of feeling home just about anywhere. With a place to read a book and a few personal affects, I am quite able to apply the word “home,” reserved by some for one special place in the world, to any location that I happened to be inhabiting at the time. A very precious comfort for a child of the military. Home was never for me about four walls, a roof and a yard, but about family. Laughter and tears, fights and cuddling. Those things were home for me, wherever in the world they happened to be.

That being said, by the time I was 18, I was more than ready to get out from under my parents roof. Moving home from college in the summers was tantamount to torture for me. It was a nice place to visit for a couple of weeks, but more than that and I reverted into a whiny, complaining teenager. Not a state I like to resemble. Even as I traipsed around Europe with nothing more to my name than a suitcase and a backpack, I always felt at home in whatever apartment or dorm I stayed at. I always decorated my rooms with pictures and quotes, bits of home and lots of heart. Therefore, while many of my friends reserved home for their parents’ houses, I was always comfortable calling a new place home every couple of months.

When I moved to Ohio, I was excited to be adventuring once again. This was not the first time I had moved away from “home,” and it was by no means the furthest distance that I had wandered. I didn’t think it would be difficult at all, and I was desperate to separate myself from Wisconsin, which had technically been home for 9 years, almost half my life. Imagine my surprise to be now wracked by waves of an emotion that I have never really had cause to claim before: homesickness. I’m not saying that I want to be back in my parents’ house, because that always results in lots of yelling and crowding of personal space. Still, I miss things that are familiar, knowing where I come from. I never in my entire life thought I would hear the words come out of my mouth, and I can scarcely believe my own ears now, but I miss Wisconsin, desperately. Its more that I miss the people there than the place itself, but I was literally ecstatic when I was asked to come back to Madison for work, even if it’s only for 3 days. Being on State Street, where I know what to eat and who to talk to, where all of the shops hold memories, big and small, is something that my heart has been missing. Missing not only for the two months that I have been in Ohio, but for years.

I have so long wanted to “make something” of myself, to be better than the people that I grew up with, that I allowed my heart to harden against the place I was. It is only now, that I’ve left, that I realize what I never even thought to appreciate. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Even though I’m still happy to make my home wherever my feet are, I don’t take it for granted. Home is not where you stand, but where you leave your heart.

“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”  ~John Ed Pearce

The pain and glory of being alone…

September 29th, 2008 | Josie

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.”~Paul Johannes Tillich

I like to spend time walking in the city alone, surrounded by conversation but talking to no one. I like the solitude to be found within my own head, even amidst the noise and chaos of a city like London. I have begun to notice, however, that for a person that thrives on alone time, I cannot seem to get the knack of being alone, in the romantic sense. I so desperately want to be loved that I throw myself and my heart at the wrong people, and make monumentally stupid decisions in regards to love.  Though I am only now just coming down from what was, in all truth, more a blow to my ego than to my heart, I still find myself hoping almost every moment of the day for Prince Charming to come riding down Great Portland Street on his steed and sweep me up off my feet. Heck, I would find myself satisfied if one of the men at the pub offered to buy me a drink. I would likely fall into his arms without a thought in the world to the consequences until long after, when I am sitting in my bed alone and the phone has not rung in days.I have fallen hopelessly in love with the idea of love, and have found myself searching for it in all the most unlikely places. I have sought it with strangers and friends alike, both to equally devastating ends. Why is it that I seek love so relentlessly? Why am I continually trying to find my soul on the lips of another? I want to be wanted to desperately, even if only for a moment, that I allow men to use and hurt me, as if five minutes of pleasure and belonging to someone makes up for all the years of damage that it is doing to my soul, not to mention to my heart. Through all of my failed flirtations with desire, I fear that I have done so much harm to myself that when I finally do meet someone worthy of my love, I won’t be whole enough to give to him. I know this, yet I continue to chip away at the ever dwindling mass that is my heart, handing out pieces of it to strangers on the street. I have lost lovers and friends to the inexorable foolishness of my quest for love, and though I can recognize and even admonish the idiocy of my actions and choices, I cannot seem to stop making them.

Seeking answers I can’t find…

September 15th, 2008 | Josie

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. ” ~Lao Tzu

Once again I am on the brink of all that is new, and although I am almost sure that I am ready to take the leap, I cannot seem to force myself to jump. I’m excited to be moving to London, but at the same time I have no idea what to expect, what it is that I really want out of life. Beyond December, my life is a blank page. No plans, no real goals. All that I have is ideas, hopes, dreams. Nothing solid. Nothing concrete. I am tired of searching for the time in a world where all of the clocks seem to be running backwards…There are days that I am glad for the fluidity of my life. Days that the fact that I don’t know where I’ll be in a few months, what I’ll be doing, seems like a blessing. Some days, though, that blessing can seem daunting, more a curse. Sometimes I wish that my life could be more simple, that I could aspire to something a little more solid, something that I could plan for an understand. But my life is not destined for that, so all I can do is embrace the uncertainty.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer.”  ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Silver linings…

September 21st, 2006 | Josie

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”  ~African Proverb

They found my suitcase floating around in the Berlin post office, and I couldn’t be happier. I was imagining it floating around somewhere in Singapore or Timbuktu. I won’t say it was a good experience, perse, but it wasn’t really a bad one either. Afterall, it forced me to figure out what size German bra I wear, and to learn to rely on others once in a while (for instance, when I didn’t have any shoes suitable for walking twelve and a half miles in Berlin). Life isn’t supposed to be easy, what would be the fun in that, and in the end I’m alive and I have my pictures and diary, so es macht’s nicht!

Tightening My Shoes…

September 19th, 2006 | Josie

If you want to forget all your other troubles, wear too tight shoes.  ~The Houghton Line

Things just go from bad to worse here. I woke up this morning, on time, and had one of those weird experiences where I knew that I was awake, but I felt like I was still asleep. The group I was supposed to meet had already left, so I tried to make it to the class building on my own. I feel that I should point out that I am rather known for getting hopelssly lost, so needless to say I wound up wandering around the middle of nowhere Magdeburg. After being repeatedly harassed by some guy who wasn’t speaking any language that I know (although at this point, my brain is so tired from straining to understand German that he might have been speaking perfect English and I wouldn’t have recognized it), I finally found my way to my class, an hour and half late, definately a wonderful first impression in this oh so punctual society. Feeling like a total moron, I struggled through my lectures, gleaning absolutely nothing about the European Union, which I’m pretty sure I was supposed to. At least the only way that this can get worse now is if I get hit by a car. Not that that hasn’t already happened before…

Settling Down

September 18th, 2006 | Josie

Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place.  But there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.  ~E.L. Konigsburg

Well, we are finally settled into Magdeburg, I have access to my money, and my suitcase is hopefully here in a day or two, so here’s to crossing one’s fingers. I’m definately excited to be here, and admittedly, I haven’t really had time to be homesick, which is always good. Part of me is glad that we are settled, and the other misses the whirlwind of not knowing what we were going to do 3 minutes from now. I need to find a little place inbetween.

Relocation and Forgetting…

September 7th, 2006 | Josie

“Promise me that you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would I’d never leave.” A.A. Milne

Saying goodbye is not something that I am unaccustomed to or unfamiliar with. Life is full of goodbyes, hard goodbyes and easy ones, ones that make you cry, ones that make you nostalgic, and even, once in a while, ones that make you feel relieved. Growing up in the Air Force meant that goodbyes were a regular occurrence for me, some harder than others, but never unexpected. I have spent my life making friends and leaving, packing and unpacking my belongings, and never being phased by the constant change and unending adjustments. Most children hate moving, but I never did. When my dad would come home to say that we were moving yet again, all I could contemplate was the opportunity to meet new people and see new places, rather than the fear of leaving the known world behind me. I applied to study abroad with this mentality in mind. I had moved a million times before, gone to more new schools than I can count, why would this year be any different. Now, however, only 4 days until I leave for a year in Europe, I find myself straddling the line between excited and terrified. I lay awake last night, trying to figure out why this move scares me more than any of the others every have before. I thought perhaps that I was going for the wrong reasons, to run away from my insecurities and uncertainties, rather than to find something. I think that maybe this is or has been true, but I don’t think that this is the reason that I find myself upset by the prospect of yet another upheaval. After a while, I realized that it wasn’t so much that I’m scared to move again, but that I am scared to do it alone. No matter where I went as a child, my family was always right there. I had my parents for support, and 3 built-in best friends in my sisters. This is the first time in my life that I will truly be on my own in the world, independant. I have longed my whole life for that independance, and now that it literally stares me in the face, I am scared to jump.