Not all those who wander are lost.
A city dawns fresh and radiant on the horizon. My car, stuffed to bursting with my most prized possessions (computer machinery and needlework), darts forward, leaving behind the long smooth ribbon of interstate for the complex arterial system that is this new city. I’m starting a new me.
If you’re anything like me, you know when it’s time to go. You feel the cycle of change, you know that you are better off uprooting everything and shifting landscapes than continuing to till the same plot of land. Sure, you could do it, keep returning to this narrow strip and replanting, reseeding, rewatering and reharvesting and repeating that same agrarian cycle, but you know that doing so on this plot of land would be like strip mining your soul, so you pack the car and you say your goodbyes and make those promises about coming back. The whole time you know, though, that this new city will provide a plot of land so arable, so utterly and completely fertile that you’ll never come back.
If you’re anything like me, there’s a moment of dark as you set out, that place where the fear lives deep inside of you. A little kernel of it whispers seductively and you feel so very tired of hoping for more that you think maybe, just maybe, you’ve made a huge mistake, that out there isn’t the hill you want to die on. No, you think, that hill is back there, in the place where you were, that one bit of soil left untilled because you never really had time to explore it and aren’t you a bit old to be chasing after those stories of better acreage elsewhere? After all, you’ve made a good go of it so far on this land, and the brown sparrow on your shoulder twitters that the peacocks you’ve been promised will be hard to find and win over.
If you’re anything like me, you shoot that sparrow a look so hot it bursts into a million tiny flickers of flame that light the way before you. If you’re anything like me, you leave the darkness behind you and embrace the sun to come. You trust in the potential for richer soil and fresher water and a better class of bird.
The sun is golden warm and rosy fingered and everything you could hope for. The soil is better, richer, and bears so much more fruit that you’ve got no more room for the Old Things of Back There. They go, as Old Things have gone before, to some Goodwill where those who are still sporting brown sparrows may find some use for them. You feel the magnitude of your benevolence. You gild the cage of the brighter bird you’ve earned.
If you’re anything like me, you revel in the richness of this life anew until the sun gets a bit too bright hot. You feel the precise moment when the cracks start to show, when the land stops just short of producing more this time around. You note the bird molting. You grow tired of cleaning feathers from the bottom of the cage.
If you’re anything like me, you know when it’s time to go.
I’m cheating today; I wrote this piece in December 2009. It seemed fitting to the prompt, so it’s here, unedited.