With a faint chill in the morning air, kids rowdy in school buses, and bear scat on the trails, we are in the crescendo of our short and precious summer. The relative peace of shoulder season awaits, a time for reflection, for catching up from the frenzy. About to be comfortably ensconced in the womb that is our Valley in autumn, with the magic of winter on the horizon, my foot still taps impatiently, my imagination flooded with fragrant markets, crashing surf, and the bustle of an unfamiliar city. Happy to be home, I am yet consumed by wanderlust.
There is much to recommend long-term residence in a locale. Familiarity leads to a deeper understanding of a place and of its residents. It takes a few years to even scratch the surface of what the Valley and its environs have to offer, even longer to establish non-superficial social networks and reliable business connections. It is a tremendous joy to walk into a supermarket and converse with people you know, to stop on the side of a trail for an impromptu gabfest with a long-lost friend, to work for and with those that have stood beside you on a knife-edge ridge.
Predictability and stability are wonderful attributes, but they are not the main qualities upon which I have built my life. As someone pushing relentlessly forward, it is important to be put on my back foot. Ravenous for knowledge, it is deeply satisfying to be completely clueless. Perhaps uncomfortably curious about human interactions, it is critical to be dropped into a place where nobody is at all like me.
Travel of any stripe, but particularly the deep explorations that populate my daydreams and which characterized my year-long honeymoon, is the wellspring from which inspiration and creativity and education flows. It disconnects the mind and body from the rote. It is a critical component of my existence and one that I fetishize to a perhaps insane degree. This is particularly true as I have not exactly been cooped up: in the last year I skied pow and slurped ramen in Japan, said a prayer at the Western Wall and chowed salatim in Israel, stood amongst living ruins and mainlined pasta in Rome, among other adventures. I should be satisfied.
Moreover, it seems absurd to be yearning to flee a place that people spend untold sums to visit. It reeks of ingratitude, for both the natural and human environments that have sustained me. Recognizing my follies in this regard means all is not lost, that there is a solution that reconciles my abiding love for this Valley with my unquenchable thirst for new experiences. It is a return to my unifying principle: balance.
It is OK to dream of sailing amongst remote Pacific islands as long as I appreciate the majesty of my morning commute. Just because I wish to sit sipping Turkish coffee with a crew of Istanbul DJs and hairdressers does not mean that I do not cherish the friends, colleagues, and family right outside my door.
Of course, as any local that has staycationed here will tell you, a shift in perspective reveals an entirely different Valley experience. My home presents adrenalized adventures aplenty and there are a whole heap of folks with whom I have yet to spend any time. I look forward to further discovering the depth of this community as much as I anticipate my next sojourn abroad.