There's a feeling I get,
When I look to The West,
And my spirit is crying for leaving ...
Led Zeppelin, 'Stairway to Heaven', 1971
As the Winter of 1987 moved into Spring I was thinking forward to the coming Summer with some uncertainty. The Summer of '86 had been a response to the learning of the winter before and I knew that I could not live on that forever. I had gone through a deep transformation and had spent several seasons getting accustomed to that transformation, but it was a year since I had emerged from that process. For the coming season to be meaningful it had to stand on its own and take me somewhere new that had been the whole point of stopping and reflecting.
Restlessness in Paradise
Portsmouth continued to provide connections to many interesting people and opportunities, and I could see myself making a life there as the place continued to appeal to me in so many ways. But as much as I loved the place and my life there I was getting restless. It wasn't that Portsmouth was too small, it was that the world was too big. As much as I was enjoying focusing on what was in front of me I also noticed how interested I was in talking to anyone who had just come back from a journey or was about to depart on one. I felt their excitement and wanted to share in it.
I didn't jump to any conclusions about this. Staying true to the process that had seen me through my first winter in Portsmouth I spent time reflecting on what I felt within and what I really wanted. I was careful to follow each train of thought one step at a time and watch out for thoughts of what I 'should' do. I stared over many cups of coffee while the place in front of me floated next to the promise of places unseen in my mind. I tried multiple approaches to the question, but they always ended up at the same place.
I'd gone north to New England, I'd gone east to Ireland, I'd gone deep within it was time to Go West.
The Prodigal Dream
Part of me wondered why I still felt the need to beat that dead horse and head Out West. I had numerous friends ask me the same question, suggesting I go back to Europe or back to school. There was something in this journey that called to me though. I had met too many people who insisted that whatever valley or burg they happened to fall out of the womb was the best place on Earth. There is a lot to be said for the continuity of living where you were born, but since I had left that place behind it did not make sense to me to settle in the first place that I liked. How could I say this was the best place for me when I had not seen any others? If I went around the world and then returned to Portsmouth and settled down then I could do so secure in the knowledge that I was in the best place for me. If I ended up somewhere else, then it would only be because that place was better for me. I would be better off either way.
Merging the Selves
Looking back I can also see a synthesis happening between the two visions I had of myself; one settled and the other in motion. I was on a journey, but that journey was to find a place to no longer be on a journey: a home. The settled self would give control over to The Wanderer. The Wanderer would go out and find a home for the Homebody. It was a compromise between opposites to find place in the middle.