Fernweh:  an ache for distant places, the craving for travel.  I’ll just get that definition out of the way in case anyone besides me needs it.

I learned this word this morning, as I sat drinking coffee preparing for my first day back at work.  It’s just a couple of meetings and a hot desire to cover up my bulletin boards, but it’s work.  And it signals the end of waking in the mornings and offhandedly deciding what to do with my day.

This makes me want to travel.

Because travel is waking up every day and deciding what to do with your day.  It’s the beach before 8am or dinner after 10.  It’s whatever you want when you’ve got nowhere you have to be, and no one telling you to be there.  Yes, it’s also seeing amazing things you could otherwise only see and do online, like taking communion at Notre Dame or having fish nibble the dead skin off your feet.  I have done both of those things, and what connects me strongest to those memories is that we stumbled upon both.  No planning.  Just hey, look!  They’re giving out crackers! and Fish!  That eat your FEET!  and off we went.

I want that.  I want that every day of my life.

I could, if it would please the audience, turn this little blog entry into a a realization that, in fact I can have that every day of my life if I just appreciate the weeks of freedom I’ve had in summer, and if I just find the … beauty in the dishsoap, if you will… but I’m not going to.  Do I have to shout about how grateful I am for my summer in Maine and about how much I love my job for anyone to come around to understanding my … my … fernweh?

It is this:

When traveling, my life is my own.

When home, my life is obligation.

Traveling is my own lack of obligation.  That’s it.

I want that.