Life Musings, North America, Travel Stories

The Girl Who Leaves

I’m leaving. Tomorrow. I’m packing two bags and heading South. After circumventing the globe for the last fourteen months, moving comes naturally and easily to me. But this is different. I’m boarding another plane, but this time once I arrive, I’m staying put.

Thinking about it gives me a case of the heebie jeebies. For a long time, I’ve been the girl who leaves. If you happen to catch me during a time of relative stability, I’ll be quick to warn you that a move is in the near future. I might’ve lived in Kansas City for almost four years and worked at the same job for three and a half of those years, but I never unlaced my running shoes. Being the girl who leaves has always given me a sense of thrill and control. I’m a quick study of exit signs and escape routes, a Master of movin’ on and break-up songs.
TheBarefootBeat“Her relationship was an anthem composed of words like “gotta go.”
-Dan Mangan

Except that my heart has been breaking with every goodbye and the soles of my shoes are wearing thin. I’ve got holes in my pockets and holes in my chest and I’d like to learn how to stay. 

I was in France when a stranger (a sage in disguise?) asked me a question that changed my life, “Why are you REALLY traveling?” My honest answer? “I don’t know.” At the time I knew I was running, but I couldn’t tell if I was still running away or running towards. I felt conflicted by wanting to see the big wide world and wanting someone by my side to share it with.

I desperately wanted a life of travel and adventure to be enough. I wanted freedom and surprise to feel liberating instead of exhausting.

They did, at first.

TheBarefootBeatI will always, always, always be grateful for my year of travel–for the people I met along the way and for views like this that took my breath away.
Montmartre, Paris 2014

My conversation with this stranger who knew nothing about me, but saw right through me, shook me up. It rattled my confidence and had me facing questions I didn’t want to face. When he came up to me on that fateful evening in September, I’d already been traveling for six months. I was running out of steam. France was behind me, Ghana was in front of me, and I felt really alone. TheBarefootBeat
I was sitting with my toes in this harbor, journaling when my wise sage found me.
Marseille, France 2013

I’m a born explorer and a wide-eyed wonderer; leaving is ingrained in my DNA, but it was starting to take a toll. This bizarre encounter with a mysterious teacher forced me to admit that I secretly wanted to take off my running shoes. I realized that I needed to rest, and that maybe, just maybe, a lifetime of long-term travel was my second best.

Because I am stubborn and headstrong, it’s taken me eight more months to finally come home. My running shoes are caked with the rusty gray dust of Africa, and the moisture laden trails of woodsy France. (They smell horrible).

To be honest, I’m a little bit scared to take them off. I’m afraid I won’t know the difference between settling down and settling in. I’m afraid my wanderlust will reach a fever pitch just when I’ve gotten comfortable and will start throwing things at the wall in a fury of being ignored.

I’m afraid I’ve gotten so used to being the girl who leaves that I’m not sure how to be anyone else. I’m worried the words, “I’m leaving” will slip out of my mouth and I’ll start heading for the door each time things get hard.
TheBarefootBeat“Should I stay or should I go?”
-The Clash
Towing the Equatorial line in Ecuador, 2012

What I do know is this: I’m ready to start running towards. This year of travel has mirrored an inner journey of heart transformation. I’m ready to apply what I’ve learned to a life of steadfast love. I’m ready to welcome stability and routine into my daily round. I’m ready for more hellos and fewer goodbyes. I’m ready to practice what I’ve been preaching, ready to live a life of simple adventure at home. TheBarefootBeat
One of my favorite places in my hometown, the Nelson Atkins museum campus.
Kansas City, MO 2011

So, where is home? Home for me for the next year (at least) will be Nashville. I’ll be moving in with my youngest sister (a beautiful soul with just as much wanderlust as me), and sharing life in community with a few other roommates. That’s all I know right now. To be honest, Nashville is not my first choice, another clue that it’s probably the best choice. (I’ll write more about this later, and explain a series of Divine interventions that have led me to make a home here).
TheBarefootBeat“Home is wherever I’m with you”
-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
Nashville, TN 2013

Suffice to say, travel will always be a significant part of my life. It’s the way I’m made, what makes me come alive. It’s my catalyst for change and growth.

Nashville might be a rest stop, or it might become my home base. Either way, I will stay vulnerable. I will keep sharing this journey with you and keep writing about my travels and discoveries. I will remain in wonder, promising to keep my hands and heart open to the plans the Universe has for me.

As always, thank you for walking beside me.
TheBarefootBeat
“All the sweetest winds they blow across the South.”
-Ryan Adams
I have a feelin’ Mr. Elvis Presley and I are gonna get real, real close.
Nashville, TN 2013

Passing through Nashville? Stop by and say hello or look me up on Couchsurfing! Hiring and looking for an enthusiastic employee? I’d love to send you my resume! 😉 

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