I have never in my own memory been an easy person, never really been 100% comfortable in my own head and in my own skin. I want to be closer to my family. I want my independence so that I can be my most authentic self. Yes, I realize those don’t have to be mutually exclusive for everyone, but my family is very strict, traditionally southern family. The important ones are ridiculously loving, but the authentic me is pretty radically different than they are. I am an extroverted introvert. Don’t believe it can exist? There are times that I need to be around people, that I almost feel like I’ll wither away to nothing if I don’t get some time surrounded by and interacting with. There are other times that I’m perfectly content to see no one but Sir Joshimus for weeks at a time. When each of those needs is foremost, it is a soul deep NEED within me. But those are dichotomies I’ve learned to live with over the years. There is one dichotomy within myself that terrifies me because it affects my future and the rest of my life.
That would be the part of me that longs for a plot of land, a house, a garden, and animals. I want to homestead. I don’t think I’d be very good at it, but that’s okay, because everyone has to start somewhere. But then there’s this other part of me that wants to travel and see the world. There is so much in our world, so many things that are nothing like anything I’ve seen before. And I want to see them. But, really, the two are nearly mutually exclusive. At least for us, with the resources we have, anyway.
To travel, we have to do it through moving to new places with work. Oh, occasionally we will be able to take trips. But it’s easy right now. We have no children to worry about. We have no pets to worry about. We definitely don’t have farm animals that need daily care in a single, fixed position. But part of that dream is the ability to live in an area for six months to a year and then packing up and moving on. This is part of my recent dream of a tiny home on wheels (converting a bus into a home) – along with the desire to be done living in an apartment and to have a dog. I’ve dreamed about how awesome it would be to be able to put everything in our bus and drive to the next town for however long we stay there. We could have home wherever we went. But there is the very real question – could we live in a small space like that? Would it drive me insane to forever be on the road? And there’s the fact that I already feel like I’m missing out on so much of my nieces and nephew’s lives – though that is going to happen no matter where we live because I don’t think any of my nieces and nephews live in the same state except CJ, Bren, and Nessa.
But I still want that converted bus, because of the other side of that coin for me. I want land. I want to grow some of the food we eat. I want to eat eggs from animals that we raise ourselves. I want to try raising the meat that we consume. I want to feel connected to that cycle, something I’ve been drawn to for some time. I want to be self-sufficient, at least to some degree. I want to play in the mud, and I want to have children, and I want to raise them to be able to grow things and raise animals. I’ve always been a half-step out of sync with that entire life cycle. I went to one of the last agricultural high schools (active, not just bearing the name) in the country, and yet I’ve never raised an animal. I don’t even really know how to take care of something more than a cat, a dog, or a ferret. But I want to know. I want to raise children who know. Even if they end up living in a big city and working at a company that has nothing more to do with animals than possibly a cartoon mascot. Because at least then they’d know. At least then I’d know. And I think that a home, a place to settle in and become a part of the landscape, is something that I’ve wanted my entire life.
Not that I didn’t have that back home in Hattiesburg. I’ve talked about my hometown quite a bit – I’ve loved it and I’ve hated it. I’ve thought it was too small, and I’ve thought it was too big. But the fact of the matter is, good or bad or indifferent, it has never been my place. Because it’s the place that I came from, there was a time that I had a place in it. And in Brooklyn, where I went to high school. I was a part of the landscape, I was a well enough known figure that I rarely went anywhere without seeing someone who knew me, someone who I knew. Of course, back then it was uncomfortable for me – like wearing a jacket that’s just a little too small. Part of it was because I was young and back then I didn’t want that from life. But then I grew older and I learned the joy that comes from being known, from being a part of something more than just your family, your household, and your circle of friends. But I’ve yet to find a place where it didn’t still fit like a too-small coat.
I want to find that.
Each of those wants, each of those dreams, are powerful draws for me. I want to go. I want to find a place to stay. I want to be carefree. I want to be responsible for something greater than myself. There are some days, when I spend too much time alone or too much time in my own head, that these warring dreams overwhelm me. And there are others when I’m so desperate for something – anything – other than where I currently feel stuck that either option would be preferable to another day looking around myself and seeing something that I’m so tired of – a home that isn’t really my own, closed in and confined, knowing that I can’t have the companion that I want so badly – that I’ve missed having since my Speckled Dog.
It’s so hard to juggle these warring desires within me, and even harder to try to figure out exactly what it is I want from life. I will be 29 this year, and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I know who I want to be, and I’m working on her every day. But, as always with this, I don’t want you to look at this and see someone who is in despair. Nor do I want you to despair if you live with dichotomies like this. Because every day, I wake up. Every day, I have a man who loves me every bit as desperately as I love him. I have a family that I love more than life itself – made up of blood kin, married kin, and adopted/friend kin. I have more in this world than some people can even dream of having. I’m lost. I’m wandering. But at least I’m not doing it alone. And sometimes being lost, sometimes wandering is the only way you’ll ever find your way to where you’re supposed to be. I know I’ll make it there one day.
And you know what? So will you.