I always left, though. There was something comforting about those road trips, that transition time between the person I was and the person I would be. A clock ticked in my head: Must see it all. Must see it all.
That clock is mostly silent now. I don't want to leave people behind anymore. I have no desire to pour myself into a car anymore and drive alone across the country. I know I can't see it all. Instead, I want to see a lot of a few places, to really know them down to the core.
I often wonder about the ones I left behind. They seemed so secure in their lives, rooted trees, tied to a piece of land in the way I never thought I could be. Now I am one of them. I heard about two people I know last night who are pulling up stakes and moving to Portland. How can they leave? I wondered. Then I had to laugh. I have come a long way down that road.
I'm heading to the southwest for two weeks. This time I'll have someone with me. This time we can stop, dawdle, soak in the hot springs. This time I'm coming back.
There was a lot I loved about the road: the delicious uncertainty of a bend, the unknown possibility. Sometimes I can admit that being anchored feels like it: a boat swinging on a chain. I want it both ways. That's why I keep traveling, in short bursts now, returning to a known shore.