A friend told me the other day that I was restless, not because I was fidgety or uneasy, but because I'm looking forward to returning to France. It set up a chain of thought that made me wonder if people with wanderlust are born that way or merely become used to a certain way of life.
My parents moved every year or so until I was six, then things settled down and we spent 3 - 5 years in each place. But my parents hadn't been brought up like that at all. They had very stable childhoods, though the rot must have set in at some point because even after it was no longer necessary, they kept on moving.
I left home as a student, married and kept on travelling. We spent varying amounts of time in each area - from 11 months to 4 years. I started to notice that at about 3 years I was becoming attached to a place, so when we were in Paris and offered another 2 years on top of the 3 we'd been there, we decided enough was enough. Memories start to build up at around that point. If I'd stayed any longer I would never have wanted to leave. The wrench was hard enough as it was, but of course Paris was a bit special.
I know that whenever we have just moved, I'm very conscious that everyone is a stranger, that I'm not going to see a familiar face as I walk down the road. I think that has to be one of my few regrets, that I don't have very many long-standing friends living nearby, certainly none that go back as far as schooldays. I have to reserve my "do you remember when ... " moments to immediate family.
On the other hand, I love the new experiences that living in a new environment brings, so different from any you have as a holiday traveller. There is so much to learn in this world and only some of it comes from books or the internet. Of course, too, the internet does bring with it the much greater possibility of keeping in touch with people, so that should at least help to dispel any regrets.
I have (or perhaps "suffer from" is the right wording) almost insatiable curiosity. In the interests of some research into skill sets, I took a test today with 70+ questions. I whizzed through it because the result wasn't what I was after. But the result did surprise me:
"You are curious, studious, independent and sometimes unconventional. You like to develop skills in mathematics, biology and physical sciences and prefer jobs with a scientific or medical focus. You enjoy solving problems by thinking them through."
I was surprised because, although I had never really thought of myself in those terms, it seems remarkably accurate. Perhaps it's the curiosity and independence that has made me a traveller. Or the unconventional.
In the end, I really don't know if it's nature or nurture that has made me like this. All I do know is that I'm unlikely to change. I am a restless soul.