Over the past year, I’ve been reviewing the world through gold-rimmed glasses. You know, the kind that rest on the back of your head and coat the world you’ve left behind in gilded shades of light to the point that all your youth might appear a continuous Christmas, filled with joy, beauty and adventure. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been coping with this new phase of my life and the responsibilities that accompany ‘adulthood,’ or whatever life at 34 is called. The transition has not proven especially kind to me: anxiety, panic attacks, self-doubt, ephemeral goals, and an influx of nieces and nephews, who remind constantly that I am no longer a thirteen-year-old playing at ‘adulthood’ by babysitting his siblings, but simply an thirty-four year old trying to reconnect with his youthfulness.
Mostly, I’ve found myself idealizing the past: gazing at my college years and post-college interim at NIH with a fondness, which I never felt in the midst of it all. I spent so many years begging, searching, fretting over finding myself a job, and now that I’ve found it, the sensation leaves much to be desired. Thus, my mind idealizes those past moments, when the freedom to choose still lay before me, when life felt infinite and unexpected.
Regret and anxiety typically accompany me whenever I return home from a vacation of any length. An hour after I step through the front door, the wanderlust swells like a tidal wave, hurling my dreams to far-off climes. Typically I can never adjust to the feel of stationary life: the schedules, jobs, and repetition. I loathe routine like a vampire abhors sunlight. After a day or two of taking the kids to school, chores, and my own classes my anxiety becomes such that I will find any excuse to visit someplace new. If no release is met, I become irritated, nervous, depressed, and sulky until the wanderlust fills me like an over-inflated balloon and . . . pop! My body explodes into a million gooey pieces as every cell attempts to scatter my remains to the far-off corners of the planet but only succeeding to briefly invade the downstairs kitchen before my bits and pieces are gathered, mopped, and sanitized with excessive amounts of Clorox bleach.
Ewwww . . .
All morbid metaphors aside, I seem to crave adventure at times. Or at least the unexpected journey to someplace new. Unfortunately schedules haunt my day like the shadow of a poltergeist, and until all scheduled events pass – exorcized with time – I can never truly relax. Odd, eh? This inclination partly explains my obsession with books, those magical travel agents of the mind. Books help to assuage the fever that accompanies wanderlust, like methadone to the heroin addict. Thus, I never travel without a story, tome, or tale, lest the line at the DMV parades out the front door. Or the red digital display at the supermarket deli reads 004 when the number printed on my ticket is divisible by one hundred. Or a red traffic light. With book in hand, at least then, I have somewhere to go.
“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snicket
“To unpathed waters, undreamed shores.” — A Winter’s Tale