The first eighteen years of my life I lived in a hundred and fifty year old house, on a dusty dirt road in the small town of Winterport, Maine. When we crossed the road and walked down over the grass and bush covered hill, we arrived at the river where we spent nearly the entire summer, every summer. In the winters, we slid on the hills behind the house and warmed ourselves by the cast iron wood stove in our living room. It was the place I called home from the day I was born until the day left for my first adventure. In fact, it was the place I called home for the first few years after I began to wander. Wherever I was in the world, when someone asked, “Where is home?” I would say, “Maine.” And I suppose over those first few years I meant it, but somewhere along the line it began to feel like it had been my home once upon a time, but perhaps, just maybe it wasn’t really my home any longer.
In 1978 I began a forty-six year adventure that has never come to a standstill for more than a couple years at a time. For over four decades, most of which were experienced with the love of my life, I have traveled the globe and lived in Texas and Alabama and Maine and Florida and North Carolina. We spent a couple years living in Northern Italy and another couple more in Germany. After I finished my years in the military, and after we spent a decade or two in the US, we moved on to the Caribbean where we lived on and off for over twelve years. We immersed ourselves into the life and culture and the people of Anguilla, St Kitts and Grand Cayman before we landed in Asheville, North Carolina less than a year ago. It seems like we might stay here, but it’s too early to tell. It’s impossible to know what event may change our course and put us on the road once again. Who knows what causes the tug on the heart that makes a person gaze over the horizon and wonder if maybe, just maybe we should wander off on yet one more adventure to see what is calling to us from over the next hill.
I dare say that back in the day I drank too much, laughed too much (if that’s possible), cried too much every now and then, and lived a few lifetimes of adventure. I got in a couple of fights back when I was too young and dumb to know better, traveled to Pula, Yugoslavia when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and walked the streets of Old Havana and had a couple rum drinks in the Cuban sun. We almost got our old broken down junk car stuck in the rain forest on our second day in St Kitts, got robbed a couple times while we were living there, and ate and drank and made great friends with the good people of the island. We rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous in Anguilla and drank Red Stripe and ate ribs and chicken with our local friends. In Cayman, the adventure was softer and more refined, but the island was possibly Earth’s last Garden of Eden. It was a time and place that will soon be changing, but we saw and experienced the best of it. This list of our adventures could go on for pages, or perhaps even volumes, but for now we are in Asheville, North Carolina. We are trying to convince ourselves that it’s time to stop the wandering and perhaps take time to reflect on our amazing journey.
When I think back to my humble beginnings back in Winterport, Maine, it amazes me when I realize that I never once imagined the life I have lived. I was a regular small town kid with no grand plans or dreams or aspirations in life. Then one day when I was eighteen years old I accidentally ventured out into the world and it was not too long before I began to realize that there was probably no going back to the place where I was from. I am happy for all my old friends who are still there, and I am sometimes envious of the lives they lived. I know what they have, because I had it for the first eighteen years of my life. Home is a priceless gem. Home is where the heart is. Home is home.
Every now and then we wish we had a place to settle down. A place that not only belongs to us, but a place where we belong. The truth is that I left home too long ago to ever go back there to live. The place I left doesn’t even exist any longer. It’s one thing to feel like an outsider in some strange new place, but it’s quite another to feel like an outsider in the place I once called home. To be a stranger in the place that I was born and raised is something I don’t care to experience. It’s not possible to walk away from a place for over four decades and then waltz back in as if it still belongs to me. It belongs to new and old faces now, but not to me.
In all of my years of traveling I did not experience war or wizards or dragons or orgs and any other such things, but sometimes I feel a little bit like Frodo Baggins at the end of The Lord of the Rings. I cluelessly left my home in 1978 with no understanding of the journey I was about to embark on. I have been on one adventure after another ever since then and I suppose if I had to do it again, I’d do it more or less the same. But sometimes, like this past year, I feel like it’s time to stop and let the dust settle. Allow my feet to take roots and I think that it’s time for me to feel like I am home again after all these decades. It’s time to allow the moss to grow thick and allow the sights and sounds to become so familiar that they become part of me. But there are still times when I think I sense a breeze stirring up and it feels like there just might be an elfish ship waiting at the pier to carry us to the next place, to the next adventure, to the next unknown, and I wonder if I can ever settle down again. Or perhaps I just wonder if I can settle down yet. Tomorrow is another day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring to us. Maybe everything imaginable. Maybe nothing at all. Time will tell.