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The International Writers Magazine

In Defense of Wandering: A Traveler’s Hissy Fit
Nicole Trilivas

I’m constantly chasing the dragon. This isn’t wanderlust- it’s wanderlove. The things I’ve spied in every far corner of the earth have spoiled me, and being home - being still - feels unhealthy. Yet "Spoiled" seems like the wrong word for it; I’ve been enlightened by travel, but then again maybe that’s glorifying it.

The greatest adversary to the cause is my father; many a late night talks ended in a scene out of a Cindy Lauper video: "Oh Daddy dear you know you’re still number one, but girls just wanna fun, oh girls just wanna have fun."

Maybe I am some skewed sybarite; nipping at Pleasure’s heels in some third-world country, but it sounds so offensive- too Bacchanalian. Yet if I say that I travel just to better myself or to better the world, that also shimmers falsely; I doubt I’d pursue traveling with the same vigor if I didn’t derive the same pleasure from it.

I suppose the reason I cannot explain my preternatural inclination to roam is because I chase a dragon with no name: I don’t know what I’m seeking. How do you explain instinct to an agoraphobic father-- past life as a nomad, perhaps?

His fear for me chasing the dragon lies in the definition of that term itself. In street slang it’s said in reference to the specific manner of inhaling crack or heroin over tin foil and a flame. The smoke, thick and slow moving, dances like a Chinese dragon into the pipe. The "dragon" is also that elusive high that the junkie, or any addict for that matter, is always trying to top. The hunt is constant and obsessive; it’s deadly in the depth and dedication that’s required to endure the pursuit. The infatuation is nearly maddening, like Heracles on the heels of the stag with the golden horns; it’s a trial of endurance rather than brawn.

The real harm though, resides in nature of the beast- for the dragon (unlike the stag) can never be caught. Therein lies the elemental flaw. If it was something tangible and socially acceptable you’re tracking, you’d be commended- your next promotion, the perfect house, and the designer sunglasses are all reasonable to strive towards. Yet when it’s elusive and indefinable, and for all intents and purposes, non-existent, you’re just another junkie looking to top your last high-- so much for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Well I couldn’t care less. Call me self-indulgent, immature and irrational. Wendy sweetheart, you had it right when you ran away to whimsical, exotic Neverland after your father demanded that you put aside your childish fancies and grow up. Just because I live in the real world doesn’t mean I have to be a realist. Just because the dragon is without a name doesn’t mean I cant chase it.
I realize this is the literally equivalent to wiggling my fingers on each side of my head and saying "nanny nanny poo poo" to my Dad, to every person who rolled their eyes at me when they heard I was leaving again, to everyone that curtly said they wish they too could just forgo their responsibilities and leave, and to everyone that has told any child to just grow up. Well guess what? This life takes guts. I’m scared to death half the time, but the other half I’m elated. I may never catch the dragon, but for now I’m thrilled with just the chase. And guess what? Sometimes it’s as simple as that. Sometimes it’s as glorious as that.
©  Nicole Trilivas September 2005

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