Listened this morning to a strange, errant feed from WORT, the local community radio station, which, in lieu of the poetry show that was to be on, instead was an account of two Dutch women and their enduring friendship. One is a travel writer, has written 13 books over the last 20 years, and is constantly on the go. The other lives at home, doesn't leave home if she can help it (might even not go to a birthday party, if she can help it) and has 90 animals.
I have been reflecting a lot lately on what makes friendships endure or disintegrate. Birdfarm has reminded me that the older we get the more discerning we become - not just being friends with anyone, but with people who equally reciprocate in any number of ways - through equal communication, love, support and effort. Even equal silliness. And yet, this isn't about a laundry list (this seems obvious but still has taken years to clarify) of interests - this is, well, like when applying for a job, more about a "je ne sais quoi" quality to the arrangement. Things you don't know to ask in the beginning, because they aren't quantifiable: will I be respected, will you still love me, when I'm 64? These things I am learning to get a sense about from the beginning - sniff them out, ask related questions about communication, respect, life views, but it is hard to get it just right, especially when some relationships were born in eras of earlier desperation.
That desperation has returned in some of my relationships. There appear to be phases I have gone through in this Saturn Return, or whatever it is, when all relationships come into transition. It's relationship transition time again. Two of my closest friends in town are moving - one soon and not too far, the other very far in the next year. And, I have decided to ask Erika, for a long time my closest friend in Madison, to move out, and her fiance and her will likely buy a house soon and move on. I am ready for Dylan to move in, and he is ready to move in, but transitions are hard for everyone, and often this one has resembled a divorce (including who gets the dog).
There was an era in my life when I traveled and dreamt of moving all the time. I wanted to be this travel woman, writing travel literature, known for her saavy in many cultures. Not well known anywhere, only by reputation, not by location. Now, over time, I am getting more and more home-oriented, and my sensitivity to how I want my home to be is getting really keen. I want specific things and they cannot be too far comprimised. I was warned to travel much and young, for fear that once I settled I wouldn't want to anymore. I still trust I am as open as I ever was, if not moreso, but I see now how a desire to go deeper in my home is tempering my desire to be somewhere else, anywhere else.
Ironically, work calls to me to travel, for the first time in my adult life. I go to Tallahassee in a few weeks to teach. I am working on NYC and/or Portland for the fall, again, with a week-long, two-weekend inclusive retreat. These are fine, not too much travel at all, but last night I realized this is the first time I can anticipate I will miss being at home while I am gone. This is rare, very rare. The only time I have ever truly been homesick was last years' Europe trip, and that wasn't anticipated at all - in fact was a shocking, depressing surprise. This time, I know it is there and I can work with it.
I imagine I will always be interested in traveling, even if just reading travel writings. I imagine also there will be other eras in my life when I want to travel more, again. For now, all those discernment skills, telling the strange from the stranger, are turned inward. I wouldn't say I can totally relate to the quote title, but I can understand it more than I ever did before. Not moving doesn't mean not seeing, necessarily. Last year, at my retreat with Natalie Goldberg, she said aloud to all of us that she is jealous of people who live where they were born, for they truly really know a place from the inside out. This was the first time I had ever heard someone I respected revering that kind of life (my parents began the trend early on of deriding it). I continue to explore what it feels like to only travel, and move, inside, most of the time.