Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Restless soles

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.


  1. hello.
    I was reading this post and thinking that it could be about me. The only difference is that my parents really didn't move much when I was kid (other than to the next village). Once I went to college they started moving around the world, and I followed suite. I haven't been in a place for more than 4 years since then, and that was a push.

    However, I must admit, that since moving Oregon, I was here for a week and it felt like home, and I have to say that I could stay here for another few years, but I don't see myself staying here forever. I just don't think I know how to do that.

  2. Funny you should say that Oregon felt like home to you because we had one move that felt like home to me, for no apparent reason. We'd never been there before, but I've left part of my heart there. All the same, I couldn't cope with the idea of being in the same place for the rest of my life. It may happen that way I suppose, but I wouldn't like to think I had no choice in the matter.

  3. I too moved around a bit growing up and continue to do so as an adult. I have lived in about 10 different places since 1995! I am ready to settle down in one place for awhile. I would like the connection that can bring. I enjoy new experiences and I do not believe for a minute that even if I found that right place, it would be forever.

  4. Hi Rich. Yes, 10 times since 1995 sounds a bit much. I can appreciate you'd like to settle for a bit. I'm starting to think we're a special breed, we wanderers.

  5. I too have moved rather a lot but only round the UK, so understand what you mean about the difficulty of keeping friends. I find I have usually one from each place and occasionally more with whom I keep in touch.

  6. Yes, that's probably about right Elaine, one from each place. It starts off as more of course then gradually, one way or another, contact is lost. I've found it surprising though, the ones who do keep in contact. They often aren't the ones you might have expected.

  7. They say a rolling stone gathers no moss. I'm not quite sure why gathering moss on oneself is desirable. You haven't exactly gathered any moss, but you have surely gathered a wealth of experiences and memories. And I just love it when you talk about them. :)

  8. Well, I've had a very different childhood from you - lived in the same place all my childhood. Maybe that's why I love to travel so much. One has to experience the world before it's too late ;-)

    It's such a good thing to be curious!!!!

  9. This could almost be my story too! Recently, a niece asked how many times we've moved..I counted back..22 in 27 yrs. Four yrs has been max. at any address! At the 2.5-3 yr mark,(if not before) our Gypsy starts surfacing, and it is at that point now! My folks stayed put, while I was growing up~then off to Italy w/o me after graduation! I think that is why I'm so unable to settle, I was the curious one, the independent one, the antsy one,the challenging one...when the opportunity came for my folks...... I got left behind!
    By The Way....I love your Pictures!


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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