As I revel in my newfound contentment, happy with the status quo and excited by the prospects for our future, I still hold onto one nagging question: where will we ultimately settle?
I’ve often imagined that the desire to settle in one place will hit me with immediate, unwavering certainty. I will arrive in some city or town, and after a quick tour, I will determine, “THIS IS IT! This is the place where I want to spend the rest of my life.”
I suppose the assumption comes from the fact that I do form nearly instant opinions, affection, and attachments to places. I like to suss out the soul of a new place–find its character. As I’ve mentioned here before, I love to travel. I hold onto memories of places I’ve been like bits of a prized collection in my head. I gather pieces of those places to surround me in my everyday life–recipes I cook regularly, pieces of art or decor, habits and customs I establish in my home. And while I have some places I know will always be at the top of my list to return to, I’m always eager to explore new ones.
In other words, my heart is wide open and I’m ready to find The One. But while I’ve lived all over and have traveled quite a bit, I just don’t feel I’ve found that place. Many places I could see myself living for a finite amount of time, but a lifetime commitment? Haven’t found that yet.
I suppose that kind of commitment is scary. How does one choose just one place to live when there are so many fabulous places in the world? I can’t even decide between city or country, let alone which city or which country!
Perhaps the nagging question is not “where will we settle” but “will we settle in one place?” Even as a young traveller, cross-country camping with my family, I was aware of my wanderlust. I wrote an essay in college that predicted the likelihood that I would be a sort of citizen of the world, comfortable with living on the go and not staying in one place very long.
But this lifestyle isn’t practical as an adult with a family. It seems more likely, or just necessary, that we will choose a home base from which to stage our adventures–hopefully some adventures with extended stays in new spots.
So I’m still left with the where question…
Maybe it’s too much to expect love at first sight. Or maybe it happens that way for some people, but not for everyone. Perhaps I need to give a place time to grow on me, or for me to grow into it. After all, the whole “putting down roots” thing implies a gradual process of growth and settling over time, slowly soaking up the habits and life-force of a place and letting them nourish and become a part of us.
Or maybe The One is still out there, just waiting for our arrival.
What do you think–do you just know when you’ve found your forever home? What has your experience of settling down been like?