Introspection is not for the faint of heart.
I am currently staying in a place that is not my home – at least, not yet, if ever.
Walking with my collie a few days ago, I was just following the sidewalk, pretty much at the same time I would have been walking home from school several decades ago. Thinking back to those days, we often lived as much as a mile or more from my school. I always enjoyed walking. Yet, many days, the trek seemed daunting.
Though I never walked in that proverbial 10 feet of snow, uphill, both ways, the journey had to be made – rain or shine. So, regardless of the distance or weather conditions, my objective was simply putting one foot in front of the other, and following the sidewalk until I made it home to that safe place where I knew my mother and brother would be. Because we frequently moved, my only familiar foundation was wherever my mom and big brother were. Most other places – schools, neighborhoods – all felt somewhat foreign. Maybe it was a sort of coping mechanism – not ever getting completely comfortable, knowing we would soon move. Apparently, I never outgrew that method of coping. I now realize, for the most part, I never get truly comfortable in any environment. I seem to operate on a sort of autopilot, always anticipating that inevitable move or change. Even after living a record-breaking 13 and a half years in one house, going from newlywed to mother of two, I still felt like an outsider. In my defense, it was a community of neighbors who all grew up in that suburb, and went to the same schools. Many even worked in the schools they had attended. Nevertheless, except for a couple of jobs I really loved, I always felt I was on the outside looking in.
One advantage to the relatively nomadic life is it makes a person flexible, adaptable, and accepting of change. Unfortunately, that was probably a necessarily acquired characteristic, not innate, as I tend to be a nester, finding comfort in the familiar.
A scene in the 1983 movie The Big Chill really touched me. After a close encounter with local police, William Hurt’s character (Nick, the drug dealer) questions Kevin Kline’s character (Harold) about his being “friendly with cops.” Harold responds, “…You know, I live here. This place means something to me. I’m dug in…” While I always had pride of ownership in my homes, I can’t honestly say I ever truly felt “dug in.” That is something I would love to experience before my time on earth expires.
Meanwhile, I truly do not know whether I was born a loner or it’s just a finely honed skill. Perhaps, there is a fine line between being lost and actually choosing isolation – whether as a means of coping or a preemptive strategy. At any rate, it may explain why I have always loved the Simon & Garfunkel song “I Am a Rock.”
As much as I relate to that song, I don’t want it on my tombstone. All things considered, I would prefer “Feelin’ Groovy.” 💁🏻♀️