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home : urban dwellings : urban dwellings August 29, 2014

9/19/2013 7:34:00 PM
FALLING AWAKE | Familiarity
By Mary Lou Sanelli

I would have sworn when I was younger that I’d never be capable of saying, “I don’t want to travel again for a long, long time.” The truth, I told myself back then, was always that I will travel for ever.

But I have been traveling, one city after another since May: Summer Dance Intensives, they are called — work I enjoy.

But even when I’m enjoying myself, there is a lot of comparing that goes on. Comparing is pretty much all I do for the first couple of days, especially when I take a walk through the neighborhoods. Immediately, I compare other lives to the one I left behind, with the doors and windows locked, full of stuff, figurative and real, in various stages of completion. 

And this is good. It’s all part of the traveling cycle, the complex question of “happiness.” 

I look around at the unfamiliar mountains rising steeply, or the foreign, sandy shore, inspired as much by the farmhouses outside of Wenatchee, Wash., as I am by the beach bungalows in Sequim, Wash. 

In fact, I drive myself a little crazy with all the comparing that fills my head as I imagine myself living in one kind of house or one kind of life — one after another, after another.

Connecting to oneself

But not to worry.

As the days pass, I begin to recognize that houses and people everywhere are just as I knew they’d be — more alike than different — and there are beautiful sunsets and terrible restaurants everywhere I end up.

And it all happens so fast (in hindsight), and then the tedious airport again and maybe a taxi, before I pull up to my place, where…now wait just a minute, doesn’t my own home look fantastic?

And that’s when I fall for familiarity again. Familiarity connects me — to me. So I go inside and warm to myself all over again, without the slightest doubt about the life I’ve worked so hard for. 

The refrigerator door closes behind me. And there it is, the familiar sound I know so well, the sound only my refrigerator makes when it shuts: wahoosh. It sounds so good, I open the door and let it close again — wahoosh. And I doubt, I seriously doubt, I will ever need to re-question that Belltown is where I truly belong from now on! Or that the feeling of home is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Next, I walk outside onto my tiny balcony to feel the moonlight that fills my sky, the breeze that shakes the petals off my potted plants. But I don’t want the maple branch to nudge the railing. 

It always reminds me that, to grow, I, too, need to shake things up — even if that sounds too schmaltzy or whatever.

Because I seriously doubt that I can pull off going to China to teach for two weeks, even if I did accept a really great paying gig in Beijing. 

Money can never top this kind of connection with everything and everyone I love, can it? Even the kind of money that is...wait, let me do the math...close to 10 times what I’d make teaching in Seattle and its dance-minded suburbs and surrounding towns in two years!

Back home

I wrote the above paragraphs back in July.

By mid-August, my travel bag was packed, my iPod loaded.

Beijing was a pleasure, but mainly for my bank account — not so much for me. 

The students were great, but I am so grateful to be breathing clean air again. I will never take air for granted again.

I don’t want to travel again for a long, long time.

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