As I sit shivering in the freezing ranger station at Lewis Lake willing the wood-burning stove behind me to heat up, I’m counting down the hours until our stint as volunteers in Yellowstone ends.
In 56 hours and 36 minutes we’ll again be free to roam the country as we please and all I can think about is hauling ass back to Oklahoma where a comfy bed and warm shower await.
Rarely in my 30 years have I yearned for the familiar, for the convenience of home. Sure, I miss family and friends and it’s necessary to visit regularly, but usually, I can’t get out fast enough — not because I dislike Oklahoma, but because the travel bug eventually takes over and I start to crave the unfamiliar. I get antsy. I get an instinct to go, to leave my comfort zone, to experience something new and I must oblige. It’s no longer a choice.
Today, I want to go home.
56 hours and 35 minutes.
Home has always been a relative term to me. It’s not a city or a house or a room. It’s a feeling, a comfort that has been difficult to find this past month.
The challenges that our 1968 tin can brought to Yellowstone are daunting but it’s the frustration those challenges have left me with that’s nagging at my soul. Things break, that’s expected. But four weeks of being cold and wet, four weeks of smelly pit toilets and doing dishes in frigid water, four weeks of back pain from an uncomfortable foam bed are starting to take their toll.
… 34 minutes.
I’m not writing this for sympathy or pity. This isn’t about whining or trying to win the worst day award (you’ll always win, because no matter what happens I’m still traveling). It’s not even therapeutic at this point. I’m just being honest. I vowed to be candid about our year on the road and this is about as candid as it gets.
I’m exhausted and cranky and sick of my own negative attitude … and I would do it all over again in a second.
This is what wanderlust does to the heart. It makes you ache for something new but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. It forces you to seek out the unfamiliar despite the anxiety that’s part of the package. Wanderlust is a hunger of the soul and it is unstoppable, even by a 48-year-old Silver Streak.
“Travel, I was convinced, was not something frivolous, to be indulged in merely by the idle or the wealthy or the unshowered backpacker. It was something worth fighting for.”
– Andrew McCarthy