“I’m trying to quit,” I quip to friends while describing my travel schedule. I’m in Oregon today, and in the last month have been in Washington, California, DC, and Minnesota. When you travel too much, like me, it can feel like teleportation: unreal.
I woke up here, I guess. Much of the long drive was at night, and I-5 is a blurred memory overlaid only lightly on a thousand similar passages. I remember the novel I had on audiobook, not the bends in the road.
I am a hypocrite. We all are, we can’t help it, and I’m acutely aware. It’s not just the travel in a world that can’t really afford airplanes. I’m also railing against grind culture while still not saying no. I’m listening to Hersey’s “Rest is Resistance” at 2x speed. Right now, I’m typing on my phone while hiking up a gravel road, when there are trilliums blooming.
I’m thirty one, almost thirty two, and I am healthy. But my thoracic spine has been stiff for four months now. I love my body, I trust it. I should, for how well it has carried me. But I have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year now, and despite all good-news tests and best practices, my body is saying no.
I think it’s the stress. Those plane tickets I bought this morning, they were for another contract. I’m unemployed in theory but I still had a work meeting today. All the hours of my morning, I spent on homework for a master’s degree. And what else? Can’t find housing for the summer, packing and unpacking, fixing the car three times so far this year. There’s more, and it never stops.
It won’t stop, unless I do. But I am afraid. I do not want to change from hell-yes to default-no. I love my endless quests: an evening spent dancing means less sleep but more restoration than an evening at home. I can say no to the idea of a trip, but not to a specific one: which extraordinary moment could I turn away?
So I travel. Because while of course it is more to do, it’s also less. It’s not stillness, but it’s focus in the moment. It’s the constraint that frees, the relegation of time to a single use. It works because it’s fleeting, because I go away again.
It’s only, I’ve yet to find a quiet season. What is a whirlwind when not in motion? How can I nurture my body without quieting my soul?