Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 4/1/2008 [Archive]

The Reluctant Traveler

The Reluctant Traveler

By Martha Randolph Carr

I am a reluctant traveler who travels quite a bit. My friends all know this about me. It is one of the ways I know someone is particularly close to me. When they hear I am heading off to some place I've never been before to interview someone about a strange topic I didn't know anything about until last week the corners of their mouth curl up. Even if I am on the phone with them, I can hear their delight at my new adventure. Some of it is they love me and are sharing in the curiosity about what is unfolding and some of it is fun at my expense, which is okay -- because they love me.

The whole process is as absurd as waiting for Godot and I have built an entire life around always dropping into other people's lives for a moment before I'm gone again, on to the next identity. Then there is that part about upending everything last August and moving to not only a new city, but a new lifestyle, a new definition of myself. That time it was as if I was trying to jam all of the circuits at once and finally be done with the angst, even if one option was total meltdown. I have always been the pull the Band-Aid off quickly girl. To some degree, this method worked.

I am no longer so filled with angst about being home, which was yet another piece of the odd being that makes up me, although I've noticed I remember my last abode with a little more affection than it deserves. And, I'm pretty sure I love New York in part because the newness is a constant that can never completely go away and so I am always distracted. But being on the road now makes me think of subway platforms and their poor lighting with fondness. I also miss all of the walking fast to get somewhere while I try to look in the shop windows so I don't miss something interesting and hopefully odd.

Apparently, I now see New York City as my home and have bonded with all of it and traveling, even to my old home state of Virginia, or Pittsburgh, which is where I was this week, leaves me a little upended. I'm not really anywhere, is what I'm thinking. Perhaps, in hindsight when I'm a grandmother and telling my tales all of this will seem wonderful. I'll keep adding up these moments till then, but in between is the anxiety of knowing my familial connections are fragile and more dotted lines than substantial anything. I am not really anywhere, asking someone I just met a lot of impertinent, personal questions, which they are actually answering. I spend a lot of time this way.

Fortunately, I have those friends who are completely inside of my life and know every detail about me. I can say anything to them - the good, the hurt, the angry, the celebratory and the very dull and long. We take turns listening to each other.

But, none of them live in New York. They aren't all even gathered together in one state. I'm not sure how this happened. The ties with them are so strong that really even a monumental, stupid, selfish act on my part would not push them away but would probably cause a plane ride in my direction instead. I am bound together for life with my tribe and feel giddy about that.

So, since I refuse to give up the traveling I suppose I will live with the angst, calling my peeps from the road and entertaining them with my new anecdotes. Once again, I will be struck by the idea that I have created this life that has no real boundaries of any kind and it is working amazingly well and then I will do my best to stop thinking about it. It's all so good, a thought that will surely make it seize up. Maybe the trick to becoming comfortable with feeling unmoored from anything is to finally give in and just float. More adventures to follow.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, is available everywhere books are sold. Would you like to have Martha come and speak at your next function?

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