Would you believe it’s been almost three years since I set foot on an airplane?!
Okay, yes, I expect that you probably can because it is not really all that strange at all. For the average American, it’s probably very normal. For me, your happy little Leek, it’s quite unexpected. At a point in my life, I was wholeheartedly determined to be a worldly, free-spirited, nomadic globe trotter. A citizen of no where. A citizen of the world. A young Liz Gilbert. I’d live everywhere and I’d live nowhere. I’d experience everything and then I’d write about it. I loved everything about travel. The sights, the food, the people, the culture, the architecture, the mountains and the oceans and the trees. Even the never-ending daylong travel was endearing to me.
In my young life, I’d work hard to fit in one international trip and a couple domestic ones each year. I’d pinch pennies (and vacation days) so I could get away. I’d travel alone. I’d travel with friends. There was a big big world to see and I was certain of only one thing. I needed to see it all.
Then, abruptly, everything changed. I fell in love. We began a family of sorts: a tortoise, a cat, two dogs and us, nestled on 10 perfect acres. We started a farm. We began building a community around our passions. We found work that thrilled us. All of a sudden there were more reasons to stay than to leave. Every day was full of love and light and happiness and opportunity and suddenly travel became a burden on our otherwise well-rounded, comfortable lives. The thrill of adventure was not gone, but I had settled into a comfortable, happy life and I felt no urge to uproot that by telling my husband-to-be that I needed to empty our bank account on account of adventure.
Money and the early years of beginning a business have had a lot to do with why I haven’t set foot in an airport for years. But there’s actually quite a bit more to it. At the root of it all, there has also been an existential struggle running deep. (There always is with me). I struggled with my identity and where travel fit in. No, a farmer cannot be a nomadic globe trotter, I told myself (quite sternly and repeatedly). For financial reasons, yes, but also for pragmatic reasons. I thought that an organic vegetable farmer who loves her home and believes in living a simple, sustainable life could never share one soul with an adventurous free spirit who sometimes loves to fly and experience and consume. Homebody or transient. Focus on local or focus on international. Those are fairly different identities. Someone who loves the fields and the sunshine and the hard work of farming could never also love the simple pleasure of sitting alone in a busy airport.
Oh but I do. Oh do I love them both so very much. I love to be home and I love to be away. I love the silence of our rural land and I love the buzz of a big city. I love tucking myself in at 9 PM on a Tuesday night and I love a late night in the city that never sleeps. At times I love to create and at times I love to consume. I love to stay in but boy do I love to go out.
Alas, we are all a paradox. And the sooner we admit this to ourselves, the happier we will be. Identities are not neatly laid out in front of us, some prepackaged way of living. Identities are forged and created.
I don’t know what prompted this solo trip to New York City, but after 2 hours alone in the airport, I know I made the right decision. I may need to be in the fields next week. But right now, my heart and soul is in need of an adventure.
-your happy humble Leek