There are days when I would be caught in a tug-o-war between past and future, between not-here and not-exactly-there, when the here and now seems like nothing more than an empty, white-walled foyer in between the two glorious galleries of Memory and Daydream. On days like this, my head feels like it’s floating and I have difficulty focusing. Today, for example, I burnt the chocolate that I was melting for my Christmas chocolate molds. They were burnt to an almost-blackish brown, and they tasted like charred fudge brownies. (I still ate a bit of them anyway. After all, I reasoned, burnt chocolate is still chocolate.)
I read a couple more chapters of Professor Laura Kelly’s “dispatches” from Bratislavia in Slovakia and Tirana in Albania. I learned that Albania is the “Poorest Country in Europe” and the “Only European Capital Without a Cinema”, and that “until the Wall fell and Communism was kicked out of the former Soviet bloc, Albania was the world’s only officially Godless place.” I thought about my spunky journalism professor who used the word “Amazon” to describe herself and who reminds me of Sigourney Weaver, and I wondered about the kind of wanderlust that drives people away from their homelands to try to make homes in countries that don’t speak their language, without family or friends to act as social safety nets.
I’ve always thought of myself as a kind of wanderer, although my wanderings have been mostly intellectual and creative, confined to the vast Universe of what I’d like to believe is an always-open mind. Today, I wonder what it is that keeps me here when I want to be away, and what makes me afraid of being away when I am so restless when I am here. I’m thinking of all the opportunities to travel that I had forgone as a young girl, as a young adult fresh out of college, and then as an adult. (I don’t mean the kind of travel that tourists and especially media junketeers do—the kind where everything is accounted for, including every minute of one’s itinerary. I mean the kind of travel where one immerses, explores, discovers, and tries as much as possible to know and understand a place.) The opportunities were always there for the most part—and I had also sought them out—but I never really fought for them hard enough. And now that I am closing my thirty-first year—and am starting to feel the gravity of age and weight-gain, plus the pressure of the ticking of my biological clock—I feel like I am running around in my head, desperately wanting to make up for lost time.
Now that there’s an opportunity opening up, I ask myself: will I go all out for it, or will I chicken out like I have done so in the past? Will I seize the opportunity to get as close as I possibly can to my dreams, or will I once again use the old excuses (family, country, security) to stay in safe harbor?
“A ship in harbor is safe—but that’s not what ships are built for,” I am reminded.
A ship in harbor is safe… but when we are the captains of our own ships, we should be able to steer them to safety, right? Whether we were home or away?