Snow collects on the branches of the bare trees, pulling them down towards earth, cars roll slowly over the icy roads and the neighborhood whispers quietly.
I’ve been outside, bare and exposed, for a long time. Sleeping in tents or buses, boats or warehouses, community couches or blow up mats or carpeted floor. Open to life around me, rarely having to design a direction – instead just following in the footsteps of what seems right. Which is to say – I’ve been free. But wandering is a limited freedom. What about food choices? Or the freedom to choose what I’m exposed to? Rambling means the ability to ramble on, but is it ever a chosen destination? I can ride my bike to the next town, but the only real question thereafter is – who do I want to be? Beyond that, I’ve already made the choice to be open, so then I must be with whoever is there, eat what they eat and sleep wherever they don’t.
Now, off the wandering highways, I have new lessons to learn. In a lot of ways, I’ve been closing doors. A sailing trip to Mexico? Nope, settling down. Building and beaches in Hawaii? Nope, I’m settling down. Bike touring New Zealand? Close that door too. And it’s surprisingly liberating. There’s no doubt it takes strength to allow options into your life, to be open to the possibilities – but I’ve found the hardest is in fact in the narrowing down again. It requires a great power, the power of love for example, to select just one of those choices.
Now I wear pyjamas to bed, drink the same tea every morning and even have a drawer with six (6!) pairs of socks in it. I’ve been given slippers to keep my feet warm, beanies, scarves, gloves and boots – and just built my first snowman!
The weather here, in Madison Wisconsin, is grounding. Snow sticks to every surface and our hearts stick to our homes. It piles up outside our doorways – so we stay indoors. It offers time. Time to eat well, to write, to sew, to read, to learn, to develop. It’s a new found freedom. I can join the co-op and know my farmers. I can begin month long projects and acquire new skills. Especially, I can be myself, with the qualities I’ve found on the road, but simultaneously discover deeper aspects of ‘me’ that only a close community can help me find. We need both worlds I think, the road and the home, to maintain balance – but I sure have a lot of the latter to catch up on. And now, the space to do it.