The Things I Carry

Aug 19, 2008    /    stories & photos, things i like

All my long-term relationships are with places.

It is the taicthwant, a Celtic word for the most potent type of wanderlust, that is the underlying current of every part of my soul. Causes me to never drive a stake too deeply into the ground, for fear of getting stuck.

I remember once, the first time I fell asleep in the arms of a particular past beau of mine, waking to find the scent of his cologne seeped into my shirt. I didn’t wash it until the B.O. overpowered the cologne. Days later. To preserve that feeling, to revel in those moments, though they were past.

I work the same way with travel. I leave my hiking backpack out on the floor for weeks before and after a trip. Run my fingertips over the scarves I bought in Italy. Smell those old journals. Sleep in those same pajamas. To remember.

Not everyone travels like I travel, digging their fingernails into the dirt, just to take a piece of Africa home with them. I like to get into a place and let it get into me. I want to bathe in the river while the other girls watch in the shallows for crocodiles. I want to let the baying of donkeys be my lullaby. To watch the stars, struggling with wakefulness, in a country where light pollution barely exists. To stomp on the grapes, letting the stains stay up to my ankles for the memory. To paint myself blue with jungle fruit. To keep all my scars and stains and smells as long as I can, keeping the wisps of memory, carrying them with me.

And now, like so many times before, the taicthwant takes hold of me, breathing the desperation for newness, change, foreign dirt underneath my fingernails. I am going to Morocco this winter, but winter seems so far now. And I can feel the crankiness under my skin, where Africa should be. The longing.

And so, for now, I wait. I work at a job I love. I live with a roommate I love. And I let my restless heart, in the quiet hours when I am alone, dream and wonder and writhe with impatience. Soon, dear heart, soon you will go again, taste the dust of Morocco and dip your feet in the ocean edge in Spain.

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