Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Day Two of the Expat Blog Challenge
Today’s prompt: Respond – “Not all who wander are lost.” -JRR Tolkien

True, not all who wander are lost. But, what I really must consider is whether I am lost? Heck, have I even wandered?

I want to say no, I am not one of the wanderers. I came to Australia because my fiancรฉe wanted to pursue his notion that Oz was a great place to live. Maybe he wandered; I followed purposefully. There’s an implication of slowness or aimlessness implicit in the idea of wandering. Moving here was anything but. In fact, it seemed rather abrupt, at the time.

But then I think back further, about how I really got here. Here here.

When I was in my senior year of college, I had a life crisis (who didn’t, right?). I was majoring in Theatre Management, but I couldn’t think of a single job in the field that I actually wanted. I’d minored in English, and literature was where my passion truly was. I thought I’d made a huge mistake. This led me to dramaturgy, which focuses a lot on the literary part of theatre -working with playwrights, evaluating scripts, doing research, writing notes for the playbill, among other things. Following my hunch that my true calling was in that field, I left Georgia to take a 9-month long internship in Sarasota, Florida, a place I’d never heard of, let alone been to. Things worked out well, and I ended up staying there for nearly 3 years. Then, following another hunch that I needed to go to grad school, I quit my job. I didn’t, however, do a great job of getting into grad school that year, so I packed up my trusty red Saturn SC-1 and I drove to Montana, where my parents were now living. Talk about “wandering” – I took my time getting there, seeing sights along the way, including a stopover in Memphis to visit Graceland and later stops at Mt Rushmore and Devils Tower.

Devils Tower. Because it was there.

I stayed in Montana for a year working retail and falling in love with Big Sky Country. Then, the SC-1 and I were off again, this time across the country to Brooklyn, NY, where I spent the next two years getting my Master’s and having the absolutely best time of my life. After graduation, getting a job seemed advisable, and I was offered one by my old employer. So, off the Saturn and I went down I-95 to I-85 and back to Sarasota. A couple years in, I met Partner-in-Crime, and weirdly enough, here I am now nearly four years into life in Australia.

This all, I must admit, is a story about wandering. It’s a story about trying to figure out what to do with myself and taking my time doing it. It was rarely aimless, but it was rather slow.

So, it would seem, I have committed acts of wandering. But am I now or have I ever been lost? I know where I am, and I am entirely clear about how I got here. With all the wandering I’ve done, I would not say that it was ever without purpose. Every move I made seemed like the logical next step. There were times when I felt unclear in the moment, but once I made a decision, I did so without any resignation.

These days, I do find myself in a phase that I would not call “lost,” but maybe “pre-wander.” I am happy where I am for the moment, but Australia does not feel like it’s my ultimate home. Our roots here are too shallow to stick for the long run, yet I don’t know where it is that we will end up.

Whenever I say that – “I don’t know where I will end up” – I am reminded of a friend from grad school, a Turkish girl with the most wonderfully individual spirits and a profound way of looking at the world. A professor asked her where she would “end up,” meaning would she go back to Turkey or stay in the U.S. after we graduated. She replied, “I don’t think I will end up.”

When I realize that perhaps I won’t “end up,” I feel free. I can wander, physically or just in my mind, without any worry about getting lost. If there’s no “end,” I can never lose my way.

Blog challenge note: As this challenge is being undertaken by a community of expat bloggers, I thought I’d introduce one of my fellow bloggers each day so that you can pop over and read some of the other challengers. Today, may I suggest that you visit my very dear friend, fellow American in Australia, and one of the funniest people I know over at Sydney Smiles.

18 thoughts on “Not All Who Wander Are Lost

  1. I loved reading this entry & learning a bit about your journey. Your road trip to Montana sounds legendary. I need to put Devil’s Tower on my bucket list of things to see! I really appreciate your profound view point shared in this blog “If there’s no ‘end,’ I can never lose my way” it brings some comfort to my weary soul.

    PS. You are so sweet! Thanks for sharing my blog. Today of all days, Lol. I served up healthy serving of sad with my funny… so hopefully people can take it. :-/

    1. I read your post today after I recommended you, but I think it’s great writing. Your first paragraph was so funny that I read it out loud to P-i-C.

  2. I say that all the time too, that I don’t know where I’ll end up. And I’m okay with that. It doesn’t make me feel lost. I’m an optimist and I just think I’ll be okay wherever I end up.

  3. I really like the “I don’t think I will end up” quote that you ended with. It was great to read your life story thus far. I have certainly spent lots of my time in Melbourne thinking about how exactly I “ended up” here! Most of the time I am happy that we did, but still the life of an expat can certainly lead to some soul-searching.

    1. Oh my, yes it can! From what I’ve read of your adventures so far, it seems that you’ll come away from this adventure very glad that you “wandered” here.

  4. Random question: Is Devils Tower that “mountain” in Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Well, it looks like it.

    Another random thing: My husband is a Theatre Consultant! LOL

    And I know it’s still early, but thank you so so so very much for organising this blogger’s challenge. I’m really enjoying it.

    1. I hate to admit it, but I’ve never seen it. Not sure!
      Very cool about your husband. Wonder if we know people in common. I’ve pretty well “retired,” but this is my professional website (which is rather out of date):

      So glad you’re enjoying the challenge. I thought the writing was going to be the fun part, but so far, I’m really loving going around and reading everyone else’s posts.

  5. This is a beautiful post! It’s awesome and inspiring to see how wandering works out in your favor. I just graduated last May with a degree in English and somehow landed up in Spain teaching English. Part of me wants to go home but I don’t know what I’d do once I get there. It’s nice to know that you don’t have to have a plan for good things to happen upon you. Where in Montana did you spend your year? My life was changed forever after two and a half months spent in Gardiner, the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

    1. Thanks so much!
      I was in Bozeman (was about 90 minutes from from West Yellowstone, and visited as often as I could). My dad worked for the University, and we actually have a very long family history there – five generations or so in MT, and my dad grew up in Bozeman, then moved away for many years. Seemed like connecting to roots I never knew I had before.

  6. Figuring out what we want to do with ourselves is half the battle. I still have yet to figure out what I wanna do when I grow up. I think I just don’t wanna grow up. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. That is a lot of wandering but I like that it was all with a purpose. And I really like the idea of not ‘ending up.’ We’re in discussions about the next steps as well and, even though they’re years down the road… they seem so close and so… ‘up.’

    1. Now that we have a kid, the temptation to “end up” seems much stronger. Not sure if you’ve found that, too. Our next steps are also years down the road, I think, but always on my mind.

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