Some places tug.
This can be a problem: there’s a line strung between places known and unknown, and you can only set yourself at one point on this line. I stumble, here. I visit places for the first time and it only entices me to learn more. This year, in less than three months after returning from Myanmar, I’ve already read three books on the country. I visit a place again, and only get sucked in deeper. I studied abroad in Saint Petersburg, and years later returned to Russia by way of Irkutsk. This year, I’ve also read three books on Russia and keep scheming up adventures for far-flung corners. And then there’s Finland: I’ve been seven times and am looking forward to my eighth this July.
The more you see and learn, the more you realize there is to see and learn. Knowledge and understanding are infinite, and thus unattainable in completeness – and that just makes me want to gulp down more.
But there’s another variation of it, too. For me, Russia is untangling a massive knot. For me, Finland is reveling with dear friends in a kind of comfortable, beautiful belonging. And then, there’s a non-mental pull that I’ve learned can also come.
Last Halloween, I visited the Methow Valley. Ben and I arrived in a cold rain. We hustled our belongings, bikes and all, into the hostel. And then the rain cleared and we cycled out and then the sun set and mountains shone with snow all around and the brush stood against the blue sky and I loved it. If I was learning, it was all emotional. There was no one around, except us on our bikes.
I suppose these tugs fall on a spectrum from intellectual to emotional. The Methow Valley falls toward the latter at this moment. Add this to the problem, then! Another place to return to, and another reason for it! It has oft been on my mind. At least Methow Valley is relatively nearby.
So, I’m going back later this month.