I was afraid of down-escalators, but it was second-nature to hop on a plane to a new destination. The unknown isn’t an irrational fear for me, but a welcomed breath of fresh air. I feel rooted in the ability to pack up and go to a different city every month, every week, every time I feel that itch. That is my home.
I don’t think you can teach someone wanderlust. It’s something deeply rooted within. Perhaps it’s an urge to find a place where I belong. As a product of assimilation and tradition, I stand wanting to change and adapt, but also holding on to my identity as a the daughter of Malaysian-Bengali, Tamil-Indian parents. Maybe because of this internal struggle between Indian and American, immigrant history and native, I long for a place that doesn’t require a hyphen. Where I belong as just me–Urmila, extremely confused wandering thinker.
Maybe wanderlust is a product of growing up on planes, where plans and holidays were decided by destinations. Maybe the embeddedness of wanderlust becomes more and more instilled with each city, each food adventure, each time one finds a point of assimilation. It’s having the faintest memory of being a toddler in Paris, asking your dad why Michael Jackson took your “bu(blue) diaper bag away.” It’s standing in the middle of Taksim Square at sunset to close your eyes, hear the call to prayer, and feel at-peace with the chaos. It’s saying yes to eating duck wing jelly. It’s learning to enjoy the fine art of leisure and aperitivo.
There’s this song by Ruth B. that goes a little like this: “There was a time when I was alone, nowhere to go, no place to call home… . Run, run lost boy, they say to me. Away from all of reality.”
At this point, as I leave for Copenhagen, Denmark on a two-month apprenticeship, this song speaks to my wanderlust. I am a wanderer. I am good at running–not away from, but to something. Next time I write to you will be from somewhere in Copenhagen. I don’t know where I’ll stay, how this restaurant internship will unravel, or how training at a new gym will go; but that’s what excites me. That’s my reality. The past month of being back in Minnesota has made me realize that though my passport does say USA, I feel at home as a citizen of the world–free from any other label but that. Though my physical home will always be MN, my emotional one will be up in the air at 10,000 feet above the clouds, staring at the sun and the changing landscape.