I'm reading the third book in Molly Harper's Naked Werewolf series. The theme of this one is a bit darker than the others, and involves a woman on the run from her abusive husband. The idea of constantly running, moving from one place to the next, never knowing what time zone you're in is one that speaks loudly to me right now. I've found that it's one thing to travel and enjoy it, but quite another to move from place to place feeling like something is chasing you. As I'm noticing a lot these days, once a theme asserts itself on my radar, I start to see it everywhere-- just like when you buy a new car you start to notice that kind of car on every road you drive. So as I've been contemplating the life of the itinerant traveler, I'm seeing others living that life as well and thinking about what it means to be constantly on the road again.
They say home is where the heart is. It's also where your clothes are, and your photos, and your keepsakes and all the familiar things that make us feel safe and secure and comfortable. Even when we bring our clothes and our favorite shampoo along, the clothes are in an unfamiliar drawer and the shampoo sits in a strange bathroom with Dixie cup water (as in the pressure is such that it feels like someone is standing above you pouring a Dixie cup out over your head).
When we travel around for business or pleasure or whatever, we need to get used to a new bed, and a new configuration of furniture that might catch our foot when we get up in the night to go to the bathroom because we're not used to that table being there. We have to make due with the coffee that’s available, instead of our organic blend. This is why people love Starbucks and other chains--one can feel right at home anywhere in the country, or even the world, if you roll into a Micky D's or suck down a Pepsi, etc. These franchises thrive on our making like the accidental tourist.
When we go to new places, by definition we must do new things because we are doing them in unknown surroundings. I'm not quite sure what we did before GPS and Yelp on our phones as we try to navigate new streets and find decent places to eat. It's stressful to need to be somewhere at a certain time and not know where you are going or what you are doing. I know that people who do a lot of this sort of thing get used to it, but it's still a strain to try to get it all right.
And what about those like the protagonist in this Naked Werewolf book who won't let herself get attached to any place or group of neighbors or any one person because she knows she will have to run again soon? Or the couple I met last week, who are itinerant teachers who travel from place to place to promote an oral tradition of learning. They haven't had a permanent home for twenty years. How do you do that?!
Home is such a complex subject. When I was young, I couldn't get away from home fast or far enough. But these days, my home is a wonderful place filled with people I love, wonderful dogs, a magnificent view and the collection of a lifetime of items both meaningful and just fun and enjoyable.
But even when home is a positive place, it's good to leave occasionally to be able to come back and sigh into the welcoming arms of our own bed and make like Dorothy chanting, "there's no place like home." It's like make-up sex, which almost makes the fight worthwhile.
So it's good to leave and it's good to come back and like so many other things, it's good to have a balance with all of that. I'd hate to be on the run all the time. And I've seriously disliked the recent need to travel hither and yon to get done what needs to get done. Which tells me I need to make some changes, unpleasant as that prospect is. Because I’m feeling like I'm running from something rather than to something and that just won't do.
So, for today, I'll appreciate home and the deep peace that comes with stepping back into my routines among familiar places and familiar faces. And I'll hope (with some optimism) that our heroine finds a home with her naked werewolf, because apparently she's cool with back hair, which is so not my thing! But I'm happy for her, really.