I’ve been on the run for nearly a month now. When I’m not wrapped up in the glory of being without a care in the world, when I’m not busy seeing this or that, or traveling from storage closet to couch to hostel to storage closet, I find myself continually reflecting. Part of this is probably because it’s fall. Seasons changing, especially the transition of summer to fall, always turns me inward. So do train rides and autumnal music, which I’ve had plenty of in the last week or so.
The other day something—the rain probably—caused me to think of when I lived in Oregon, which caused me to think of all of the places I’ve been able to call home and of how impossible it is to find that sense of belonging again once you’ve lost it in a place. How each time you go back to that certain place you approach it differently and interpret it differently, like how every time you reread your favorite book your experience with it changes.
When you go back to a place that you have known intimately, you can’t see a certain corner without a backstory, without painfully remembering a whole period of your life—who you were then and how you’ve changed since. Nostalgia. It’s the loneliest feeling. It forces me to realize that I make a habit of forgetting who I have been; I recreate my past. I am totally comfortable and happy with who I am now, but I wonder if any of that has to do with me being able to trick myself into thinking I’ve always been this person. I wonder what my former selves would say about my current self and how my future self will change. And I really wonder how it is that so much of my understanding of self is caught up in a certain place or time, a certain context.
But anyway, all of this is not me being a Debbie or a Dannie Downer or whatever (I hate that those names are typically female). Without this impermanence, life would be boring. I love being involved in a community and becoming invested in a place because it makes that place a home, but the minute I feel somehow stagnant in that place, I must leave. I don’t want to be complacent; I don’t want to be comfortable. I crave change. I need change or my creativity will be stifled by busyness and empty familiarity. Sure, I want to know myself, but I want to know myself in every context and without context.
And so, I keep running.