The pins stuck on this world map point out the places we have been during our 30+ years of marriage. Initially, the pin colors were to indicate places Holly went alone, places I went alone, places we went together, places we lived, and places we visited. But we didn’t have enough pins in each color, so there really isn’t a pattern. The only criteria for a place getting a pin was that we could not have just passed through, but must have stayed more than a few days.
We have gotten around. But I can’t help but notice the vast areas of the planet I have never been. Notably Australia, where once a long time ago I seriously considered living. Another life, of the many, that did not happen … and the more than many that never will happen.
This vagabonding will end in a few years, with decidedly mixed feelings. Rome will probably be the last place we live outside the United States … yes, could be worse.
In the years since we married, in 1984, we have lived in only two places in the US — Coronado, California, and Washington, DC. We’re coastal. Outside the US, we have lived, for periods ranging from two years to more than six years, in Bratislava, Pretoria, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and now Rome.
It is difficult to decide where to stop when the time comes. We don’t own any property. Everything we have, our stuff, goes with us — we are pack animals. We own nothing outside of what is in this Trastevere apartment. We have not owned a car since 2002, when we left South Africa; we only had a car there because, like California, it was impossible to survive without one. That car was a necessary aberration, prior to those two years in Pretoria, we had not had a car since 1993. Knowing that if we live in the States again, we will probably have to buy a car, makes us a bit sad. We have become used to the world where public transportation is better than private.
We have become used to the world where … That will be the dilemma, I fear. The reverse culture shock of living in the States again. A topic of its own.
Mostly we talk about connecting the circle. Our life together began in San Diego, and it was (is?) a very nice place to live. If we went back for our retired years, it would be a sort of symmetry. Maybe that’s where we will end up when the vagabonding era comes to a close. We also dream about Hawaii … but doesn’t everybody? Maybe our retirement investments aren’t big enough for that, maybe not even for San Diego. (Notice, no places are mentioned where ever might appear a flake of snow or a crystal of ice.)
Frankly, I am tired of vagabonding. I think Holly is, finally, too. Wherever we settle eventually, you can plant my ass in the garden at the end of days. I intend to never pack-out again. What we hang on the walls stays on the walls, the books on the shelves stay on the shelves, closets stuffed with four seasons of clothes can be culled to a minimum, we can paint a wall or two in any color we like, we can make friends who don’t move on (as we do) every year or two or three, be grandparents with a reality beyond Skype … .
He has lost what may not be found
Till men heap his burial mound
And all the history ends.
He might have lived at his ease,
An old dog’s head on his knees,
Among his children and friends.
It will probably be a cat in the lap rather than a dog’s head on the knees, but I am ready to live at my ease.
(And write … which I am not able to not do, even in these times, when it is an activity more akin to self-abuse.)