I was looking through some old files and found an article I wrote last year just as I was getting some of myself back after Ty was born. Now with baby number two scheduled for arrival in just over four weeks, I'm starting to feel the ground heavy on the soles of my shoes again...
I'm starting to feel the itch again. I've been back in Charleston almost a year now, and I'm starting to feel itchy. I left home for the first time when I was eighteen. That was eleven years and seven states ago. This last move brought me back around to my hometown for the third time. My husband keeps telling me, “This feels like home.” I completely agree, but I don't think that has anything to do with where we should live. I've never listed “feels like home” in the pro column when deciding where to go next. I want to live where my soul feels life happening, not just where my heart feels safe and familiar. But the timing is all wrong. My five month old, asleep across the hall, is a reminder that my gypsy days may be over. All conventional wisdom tells me he needs consistency and stability. Even so, I can't deny this pulling, this need for change. There are still so many places to be, and I get a feeling I can only describe as itchy. I know I'll have time once life settles, but I feel as if the pause button has been pushed. I want to start living in the way that feeds me.
When I was a sixteen, I heard a story about a couple who spent their wedding night and every night for the next 35 years in the same bed. Even though I've slept in a higher than average number of beds, I don't understand how they could enjoy that life. I don't understand how they are still married! I know there are people who marvel at my life choices and feel the same way about my own nomad lifestyle. I've been internally scolded lately by the old saying that advises mothers to give her children roots and wings, but do they need both? Can they even have both? The more I think about it, the more it seems most people have one or the other. Are we born prewired for roots or for wings? Is wishing for both roots and wings just that, a wish? Will my children ultimately end up with one or the other no matter how hard I try to steer them towards the sky or towards the ground? If he is prewired for roots, how can I coax him to fly with us? I'm worried I may push my little baby bird out of the nest and force his little wings to fly too early. All I can do is believe that as I make the best choices I can, in the end Ty will leave my nest with all he'll need to have a life that looks the way he always imagined.
My grandmama is buried nearby in the cemetery that contains more of my relative than I can count. She is buried next to her great love. They are resting under a grand oak tree whose roots have drawn life out of the same ground that has safely held the dead. She had more wings than she had roots. I don't think she ever tried to give me roots, but these restless wings we share continue to connect me to linage that is deep.
Am I defining roots and wings too literally? Am I too narrow in my view? In some ways, my wings have given me roots, but not the deep, solid tap root I first picture in my mind when I'm considering roots. Maybe my roots are more like a network: large and sprawling. Shallow roots that spread wide to connect to the roots of others. By soaring on my inherent wings, I have developed a network that has brought me strength. I've had the opportunity to weave my thin roots into a fabric that includes the roots of many other women, most of whom have stronger and deeper roots than I could ever imagine having on my own. I've developed a root system much like the trees of the cemetery, large and sprawling and perfect for weathering storms. I have been lucky enough to spread my roots as well as my wings.
Jason came home from work one day last week and found me in the nursery changing a diaper. “There's an opening down in West Palm.” He says nonchalantly, “And I put in for a transfer.” There I stood, holding the baby's feet in the air and suddenly full of possibility. “Did you really?” I tried to make my tone match his, knowing all along he was probably teasing. “Na, but I thought about it.” There it stood in the nursery with us: Hope. Hope that my wings haven't really been clipped. Hope that his roots are still shallow enough to uproot again without damage. Hope that the Play button will soon be pushed and my feet will once again leave the ground. In fact, I think I just saw him scratch. Maybe he's getting the itch, too