It is solved by walking. Occasionally in a roundabout way.
In these last two weeks before I depart (again) to a new continent (again) and learn an unknown language (again), the ache to wander across the world follows hard on the heels of the nervous fluttering of my guts. The nerves get smaller and weaker with each new adventure, in part because they’ve become a cozy and familiar anticipation and in part because each new strange situation seems less and less strange with enough practice.
Uncharacteristically, I haven’t begun packing. I somehow don’t yet see the point.
I probably should. This will be the longest that I’ve ever been away from Colorado, the longest ever away from my family. It’s the longest anyone in my family has been abroad without carrying a military uniform and a gun with them. Some of my great-grandmothers never set foot on an airplane. I’m definitely the first woman in my family in a few generations to live abroad. I still have to catch up with my paternal great-grandmother Lela, since she was a globe-trotter before most women even had careers in the 1920s and 1930s.
I think that travel pushes me to my best self. It reminds me that I am a lot tougher than I think (and look). It squeezes me into the mold of true humanity, because our species has made something of a habit of continually setting off in long-forgotten directions. Everyone’s family has a story to tell about how they arrived at their current location, even if they arrived thousands of years ago and haven’t really moved since.
Travel is the story of humanity. In the modern world where my job confines me to breathe recycled air all day and sit at a desk, frying in the florescent light…travel forces me back to who we are as a species. It strips away the sedentary lives we’ve created and brings me to bear on my genes, passed down from people who worked their fingers to the bones, ate little, and could carry all they owned. Walk, with what your can carry, and eat and sleep when you can. Reductio ad veram vitam.
Does anyone really wonder why we have to invent a “disorder” to explain why our legs are restless? And then try to suppress that innate human desire to wander with A-class psychiatric drugs like Cymbalta? Muscles call to you with everything in their fibers to get out and walk the world, or at least just your neighborhood.
It is solved by walking.