In the whole year of 2015 I was on the road one way or another for a total of a scattered six months.
Trips to haul to equipment for the start of harvest, mini vacation weekends, the long harvest itself, and many different treks back to Wisconsin for holidays and wedding planning. So many miles traveled, so many different unique places.
I love being home- the dog, our own bed, being able to cook real food, but over the past few years wanderlust has settled deep into my bones.
Not right away. It takes a bit of time. It starts off with just hopping the pickup and going for a drive. There’s something comforting about dirt roads and asphalt. The growl of an engine. Open country with clouds. Small towns that are barely on a map that no one notices.
It started with missing Wisconsin. I grew up in the hardwoods and Nebraska isn’t known for it’s trees. (Hilariously enough, Arbor Day started in Nebraska.) I went from thick forests that stood firm right up against major highways packed with traffic to dirt roads with open land as far as the eye can see. Slowly it transitioned- a few years after moving to Nebraska, we drove back. The forests I used to find so calming had turned almost chokingly claustrophobic.
I feel an almost unsettling ache to be on the road again. When you travel (even for work) you leave bits and pieces of your soul strewn about. Relationships with people. The land. Even little things start popping into your mind, like an old lone windmill at the east side of a wheat field that you always park by. Something always feels missing after you return home, where ever home may be.
For me, it’s a constant internal debate as to “where” home is. Is it WI, where I grew up, where my closest friends are, where both Matt and I’s families are? Or is it NE, where I live now, have settled down and made roots, have a job I love, and friends that truly understand my life and what it has become?
My Dad spent years in the military traveling, and one of the last times I was in WI we had a deep conversation about the concept. He brought a view to it that I hadn’t considered- “home” doesn’t change. The traveler changes.
Your views, experiences, sights, thoughts, habits, everything about you changes. You don’t realize it. Then, when you go home, there’s this almost frustration, this not quite anxiety that starts to creep up on you. You’re not there for big events, you miss out on weddings, new family members being born, baptisms, holidays, and even the little things like spontaneous dinners. You miss out. It’s all just snapshots into a different life.
So you go home, and find out that life has gone on without you.
It’s this feeling of wistfulness– wishing you were there for everything, but at the same time wishing your friends and family could go into your mind and understand. Time at “home” still flows and you feel like an outsider. But, your time also is flowing, like currents in a river. Still the same river, but different swirls and eddies. I think the older you get, the more this feeling stretches out and touches on the way things used to be, what the could be, what might have been. There’s never regret- regret is pointless, but the thoughts are always there.
Wheat harvest is fast approaching- it feels like forever since we left last year, and it feels like yesterday. The first haul of combines is leaving this weekend to be unloaded at our first stop in Oklahoma.
Harvest is coming and so starts the tempering of my wanderlust.