Before I got married I had all these ideas swirling around in my head. There were so many exotic locations I wanted to visit; I was determined to strap on a backpack and peruse European hostels, model string bikinis on the French Riviera, uncover all the hidden gems I knew awaited me in Italy and oh, I had so many more items to check off my bucket list! Traveling, or more pointedly, breaking free of my strict religious upbringing and leaving all the guilt and rules in my wake, was paramount to any goal I could conceive of. I couldn't imagine feeling happiness in the mundane and what I considered the mediocre and repression that was my NYC childhood.
Of course when I moved into an apartment in Manhattan at 18 years old and began college I realized every last thought, feeling and the very essence of who I was could not simply be washed away by changing my surroundings. Sure, experiences could add to my character, but at my core I would still be me -- I would still grapple with my internal struggles, my fears -- and essentially, no matter where I went, I couldn't shed who I was. Life is not like that. When changing where you live and traveling you take your mind and your memories with you -- you can't ever truly escape from them.
Fast-forward 20 years later. I'm 40 years old and I am in love with five other beings in a way that is hard to articulate. Through each one of them, I have discovered a piece of myself that was missing. Any experiences that I would potentially embark on now would seem so hollow and meaningless if I could not share it with at least one of them. All that wanderlust I had in 20 years has dissipated and I can't imagine needing or searching for anything more than what I have right here. Right now. I am home and all those ideas and experiences I was so eager to have feel so insignificant when I think of sitting in the living room listening to my son play the piano, watching my daughter do her 85th backbend of the evening, my husband wrapping his arms around me or my two furry little Shihtzus curled up in the nook, feeling the sweet rhythm of their heartbeats.
I am home, this is exactly where I want to be. These are the creatures who have expanded my world and life experiences in ways I can't conceive a trip anywhere possibly could.
This post originally appeared on The Staten Island Family