When I was a child, I had a misplaced case of Wanderlust. Perhaps it had something to do with feeling trapped in my parents’ house, in a small town, tired of everyone knowing everyone’s business. I was bullied in school, teased and criticized for pieces of me that either weren’t true, or I simply had no control over. I had about three friends; and all of us were a bad case of misfits.
I craved anonymity. I craved the romantic idea of big excitement that came with places far and spread from my hometown. I craved lonely mountains cloaked in fog. Big cities. Flashing lights. Open landscapes that stretched further than my eyes could see. Haunted houses, temples nestled in cliffsides. Exotic dresses, gala events. Love. Friends. People that could sweep me away from what I considered to be a dull and lifeless existence.
I had everything a kid could’ve possibly wanted – I see that now in retrospect – but I felt trapped. Lost. Scrambling inside my own head at times because something was missing and I just couldn’t figure out what. I couldn’t discern how I could be missing anything when I hadn’t lost anything. I was confused, finding myself pacing my parents’ house, the property, empty, purposeless. I was convinced that I must have a thirst for adventure.
When the endless circles in my own head became too much, I would hide in my closet and journal. I’d write about my desire to leave, my thirst for adventure, I’d create myself as a character and write myself into some of my favorite adventures – Harry Potter, Zelda, Inuyasha, Pokemon. I was a teenager at Hogwarts in the height of Voldemort’s rise, a romantic interest for Sirius Black; I was an American exchange student in Japan, who found herself in the middle of a feudal war anime-style; I was a Sheikah, one of the last members, skilled in stealth and martial arts, assigned to help Link save Hyrule. I was a Pokemon Trainer, capturing and training tiny monsters, narrowly escaping the ever-daunting Team Rocket. I was fierce, I was confident, independent, strong – funnily enough, I was USUALLY a martial artist of some kind, even long before my martial arts days – but the point was, I was anywhere but where I really was. I wasn’t hiding in my closet, I wasn’t “cleaning my room” – which was a guaranteed way to get my parents to leave me alone – I was miles and miles and years and years away, across oceans, across generations, across the space-time continuum.
I was everywhere I thought I wanted to be.
When I became an adult, and was actually faced with the prospect that I could leave, I found myself clinging hard to my home. I went to college locally, even when I had the academic prowess to go to dozens of schools across the country, hell, across the world. I didn’t. My stepfather will attest – I came home every weekend. I called, crying, begging to come home on the weekends. I had no friends. I was scared and lonely and afraid. He encouraged me to stay at school, to try and make friends.
My high school friends went on wild adventures all over the world. Hawaii, Germany, Canada, Italy, France, Ireland, Amsterdam, Japan, Thailand, Egypt… I would wave them away, wishing them safe travels. I found it terrifying in so many ways. Terrifying at the idea of leaving, terrifying that, when presented with a similar chance, I chose to stay. All my growing life, all I’d wanted was to leave, to have wild adventures. What was wrong with me? Was I crazy? What had all those days and months and years of pacing, scrambling inside my head, daydreaming, scribing myself into adventures been for? Had I actually just had a 10 year mental breakdown?
After college, I was once again presented with ample opportunities to leave. Again, I didn’t. (I did go abroad ONCE, but that’s a story for another day.) I worked locally. I went to grad school locally. I was offered jobs abroad, I was offered to relocate, I was offered opportunities to travel. I politely declined each and every one of them. I continued to read and write, sift longingly through travel magazines, gazing with awe at so many glorious places around the world. I would Google pictures of abandoned and haunting temples, of castles, I would sketch them out in the margins of my journals, I would watch martial arts videos, look up medieval weapons, studying the elusive world of the geisha, and the strict honor code of the samurai. I would incorporate the things I’d learned and the things I’d seen into my musings, into characters that I would send out to these places. But I myself didn’t have the desire to actually pack my bags and go myself. Alone? In the wildness of the world? Good Lord. No. As an adult, the realness that I could, in theory, pack and go, was uncomfortable.
I had no Wanderlust. Never had I actually ever wanted to go anywhere. What I had been missing as the child, that caused me to pace and run aimlessly around in my own mind – was words. Words to create worlds I’d never been to, words to create characters to visit those worlds and see these things I so desperately wanted to see. I’d kept inserting myself into my imaginings, thinking it was me that wanted to go. It wasn’t me that wanted to be let out to see these places, to travel, to save worlds, to fight, to collect, to wield weapons and magic. It was all these characters, these personas inside me that clawed to get out, to be heard.
I simply lacked the words to release them.
I wasn’t trapped in my house. I wasn’t trapped in my head. I wasn’t crazy.
I’ve always been, simply, a writer. Since before I even had the words to be that. I was a writer.
No. I am a writer. And I will write the world.
But I’ll do it from the comfort of my living room and a mug of tea.