During the years of looking after my nonaganarian father, dealing with grief, and surviving my dysfunctional brother, I’ve dreamed of adventure. I’ve yearned go walking and just keep on going and going and going. I’ve toyed with the idea of various themed road trips — visiting all the national parks or searching out haunted places. I’ve considered taking a freighter to New Zealand and Australia. I’ve researched ultra lightweight camping gear in case I got the inclination for some sort of long distance wilderness trek.
And through it all, I’ve wondered if in fact I would do any of it, if perhaps this craving for adventure were a stage of grief I would grow out of. I still don’t know, of course. I am currently town-bound, but I have come too far — in my mind at least — to turn back and accept a settled life. And that is always the first step — making the mental leap.
It’s no longer a matter of if I will buy camping gear, but when and what. I don’t want to get anything online until I can peruse local stores, and I can’t do that until I get my car back. Besides, the first thing I need is shoes, and those I have to buy in person to get a proper fit. Shoes are the foundation for any hike or long distance walk — if you damage your feet, that’s the end of a pain-free adventure. And pain has no part in my plans.
The world is full of wondrous things — unmet friends, lovely places, wildness, moments of bliss, random acts of beauty, interconnectedness. And it’s all waiting for me to reach out and embrace.
Come to think of it, I’ve not only taken the first step, but also the second. I’ve made the mental leap into adventure and I’ve slipped into a life of unsettledness. With no place to call my own, the whole world becomes my home.
And I am so very ready to go home.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)