30: Reforming a Road Runner

30: Reforming a Road Runner

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Reforming a Road Runner

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday mornings with my wife are nice. We make eggs sprinkled with cheese, then linger over coffee and the Sunday paper… the concerns of the world far away.

Oddly enough, the scene makes me think of Lionel Richie. The man who sang “Dancing on the Ceiling” doesn’t typically utter deep truths about the human condition, but he got it right in the song “Easy.” Being easy like Sunday morning, to sit and be still, to be at peace and in the moment, is indeed a good way to be.

I like to think I’m easy like that, but part of me wants to move, to get going somewhere. I’m plagued by wanderlust. A Sunday morning is about the routine and familiar, about feeling at home, but deep down inside, I long to live new experiences, wake up in unknown places, and see things I may never see again.

In short, I want to hit the open road.

I’ve tried to suppress that feeling. Before I got married, I took two long road trips by myself. I’m settling down with a great woman, I thought. I can’t keep wanting to drive off somewhere. I’ve got to get that out of my system.

The first trip was a three-week-long excursion through the south. I hit sixteen states and drove more than 6,000 miles. The second trip was out to Iowa and Nebraska, destinations chosen for the simple reason that I had never before been there. That trek was about 4,000 miles.

My days were filled with rest stops, gas stations, and greasy spoons, and I spent my nights in cheap motels and friends’ spare bedrooms. The road is about freedom and possibility, and with my car filled with maps, music, and junk food, I truly felt alive. The trips only fueled, not eased, my roadrunner instincts.

But through the miles, my future wife wasn’t far from my thoughts. I missed her, and I made sure to call every night. We talked about her day, about my day and what I had seen, and about our future plans together. Before hanging up, we said that we loved each other.

We married in 2006. As we’ve made a life together, my feelings of wanderlust remain, though the last few years have begun a slow process of domesticating a wandering cowboy and bringing him in from the range.

In 2007, for instance, I got a real job. For a while, I was a full-time freelance writer, which represents the ultimate in freedom. You have no boss and no schedule. The world is your office.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay very well, and before I got married, I actually moved back home with my parents to save money. Of course, as a married man, that was no longer an option, so I now work in an office and wear a tie.

In 2008, I got a new car. My old 1992 Nissan Stanza was pushing 170,000 miles and my wife thought I should get rid of it. The time had come, she said.

She was ultimately right, but men become attached to their cars, especially the reliable ones. The Stanza had been on many adventures. I felt sad to let it go.

Then this summer, my wife and I took the big step of property ownership. With our new condo, we have put down roots and staked our claim.

And so goes the slow march to responsibility. The only thing left to complete my transformation from wanderer to respected grownup is children, and I’m not sure how I feel about that possibility.

I don’t doubt that kids are fulfilling, that they make the world new for you again as they venture out into it, but at the same time, you grow selfish as you grow older. The longer you don’t have children, the more you think about the changes they would bring to your life and what you’d be giving up to have them. Pondering children, I think about my freedom, and I think about the road.

But you can’t stay on the road forever. Bruce Springsteen sings about being “born to run,” and while that sounds great on the highway with the wind blowing through your hair, the truth is that you can’t keep running.

Sooner or later, you must park the car. You must grow up, take a chance with someone, and be a part of something. You don’t want to be John Wayne at the end of The Searchers, standing in the doorway, unable to come home and be at rest.

That’s why I make sure to appreciate Sunday mornings. I still may have lingering thoughts of the road, but Sunday breakfast with someone you love is comfortable, nice and easy. Lionel was right.

 

~John Crawford

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