Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anchored at home

Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap Subject: Prague canal as seen from Charles Bridge.

March 13, 2010 Special to S-R Pinch

I am, and I have to believe it is true of most others, two people in one body. On one side, I am a contented hermit. I love nothing better than time at home surrounded by the rooms full of furniture and paintings and books that I have collected or been given, with the telephone, television and computer turned off. I love the warm tones of the paintings on the walls, the deep crimson rugs on the oak floors, the soft silk of the curtains that frame the window’s familiar view, the bright colors of the pottery and pillows.

Some of the things around me have been with me for as long as I can remember. They are, when I close my eyes and think about it, the inanimate images that come to mind when I think about the word home.

But on the other side, I am a wanderer. I am restless. I want out of the armchair. I want to go places and see new worlds and do things I haven’t done before. I read what other travelers write and I get itchy feet. I covet their freedom. I follow their blogs and turn down pages in books and magazines and long for a chance to follow in their footsteps. I want to blaze my own trail.

I tear glossy pages out of magazines and pin them to my bulletin board. I buy postcards and frame them. I keep photographs of exotic places on my cellphone and computer. I keep a list of sights I need to see and a diary of places I’ve been. And when the opportunity for travel presents itself, I hitch a ride without a backwards glance. My suitcase is always ready.

The trick, of course, is finding a way to reconcile the two halves of one heart.

Without travel, across the world or just across the state, we would never know how it feels to be truly homesick. To long for the comforting presence of those we love. To experience the sense of belonging that rushes toward us when we open a door and walk back into the place we call home.

Without a home base, travel is frightening. Like spacewalking without a tether to the mother ship. It is moving from one island to another; no bridge between.

It helps to remember that a good life is all about balance. Happiness and heartache. Light and dark. Thrilling adventure and quiet, contented moments in a chair by the window.

A life on the road with no home to return to is a sad thing. As is living without even an occasional escape to a new view.

It’s good to get away. But only when you have a place, and people, to call you back home.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and her essays can be heard each week on Spokane Public Radio. To read past Home Planet columns go to

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