When Wanderlust Calls

I have always lived within earshot of train tracks.

From the slice of suburban life that I called my childhood home, to the dilapidated balcony of my younger self’s great leap into independence; from the teeny tiny Californian apartment rubbing elbows with a new husband and a new name, to the solid brick ranch nestled in the vibrant green that is Tennessee’s cloak…

…the wail of a train’s whistle has penetrated the walls of every abode-and every stage-of my life.

“Come, see where I may lead you.”

I am inherently a homebody. My favorite personal accounts and sections of books are not the wild excitement of far off places and daring escapades, but the details and tender moments of daily life. Of people growing and learning together. Of the intimacy and beauty of life planted.

I’m the one who wishes the montage of Belle and the Beast getting to know one another was 30 minutes longer.

And though I have been fortunate to have visited a great portion of this vast country (more than I ever thought I would), my heart has been, and always will be, filled with visions of cool roots and familiar routines, warm hearth and a place of my own to rest my bones at the end of each day.

The itch of wanderlust rarely touches my skin.

But sometimes….the haunting cry of a train will rise with the morning mist, beckoning to me despite my flat feet planted in terra firma, and the life grown there.

And I am bitten once more.

Traveling by flight is an incredible thing; quick, efficient, and terrifyingly high. Between the pressure changes pulling and pushing your body, and the booming whirl of the engines filling your ears, the experience will overload your senses.

But as amazing as flying across the country is, it lacks the experience of transition. You miss the subtle shifts of land and people, scents and accents.

Travel by vehicle is better, in the sense that the slower pace enables you to truly view the world passing by. But driving requires focus in order to preserve life and limb, often robbing you of a thousand tiny glimpses and opportunities around you.

Most of all, the very sounds of planes and cars, with their various earth shaking thunder and shrieking horns, cause you to cringe or stiffen in unconscious defense.

But not a train.

It whistles to you, sings to you a melody of steel and steam, promising an unknown destination with a hundred sights before you reach it. Cradled within its metal womb, you can watch the world shift and change, see where iron and earth intertwine, where plains grow into mountains, or the ocean adjusts its hue.

Even the people around you change with the landscape. Commuters heading home with anticipation, small children gazing out windows in wonder, even lonely travelers silently wishing to be known by a stranger. Their faces are as diverse and emotional as the creation outside, there to teach you of a vast world full of vivid history.

All this while being swept along by something more powerful then yourself, lulled by the rhythmic clickity-clack of the tracks beneath. It breathes a sigh of magic with each mile, and promises adventure.

So as I wash my dishes, and sip my tea, bathe wiggly children, and fold laundry, I am thankful for the solid life that is mine. Both the mundane and extraordinary can live within the same four walls. Both wonder and routine can grow in a backyard garden.

But once in a while, the pull of unknown places and far off lands builds within me.

The wind has changed, and I hear the train.

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What calls to you? How does wanderlust grab hold of you?