Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Do you guys want to talk about adventure? (That question is mostly rhetorical, on account of none of you are here with me to object, so adventure it is!)

“’I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’
‘I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!’” –Tolkien

I feel like I’ve been on an adventure. It’s been almost a month since I left home for Christmas break, and I knew when I left that I’d be all around and up and down (central and west Alabama, that is). It didn’t seem, though, like I was heading off on something grand. I was going places I’d been to see people I knew and do things I’ve done and yet–it’s been an adventure.


It’s not so much where I’ve been or who I’ve seen or what I’ve done, though I’ve passed through doors I haven’t been through in a while, kissed cheeks of those I’d been missing, and had a lot of fun. I think what’s it been is mine. My life always feels like mine–that is, like a big-girl life–when I’m back and forth to the magazine and Ten Hoor Hall and the church. The streets of Tuscaloosa are littered (for me) with memories of my rendezvous and late-night drives and let-me-stop-here-because-I-want-tos. But sometimes, when I go home, I step back into the in-between kid, the almost-grown-up. This time–and I think appropriately so–I did not. Instead, I made it my own. I visited my family at home. I visited my family at the lake. I came back to Tuscaloosa, where little faces who knew me lit up and little hands patted my thigh, notice me, notice me, notice me. I visited friends, stopping by for lunch. And mile by mile, trip by trip, in and out by up and down, it became an adventure.


In case you’ve been living under a rock, my school is playing in the national championship in Miami. Most of my best friends loaded up in a car to drive down without me. I was sad, of course, that they’d get to go off on an adventure without me. But then I looked around–I happened to be in Birmingham–and saw the day for what it could be and that was mine. It was the last Saturday before school and work would start up again, and responsibility, though lingering in the shadows, did not yet have a grip on me. I found myself wandering aisles of straight-up treasure in a used book store, smelling coffee after coffee in the World Market, going on a run down brand-new-to-me streets. As if I’d slipped on Harry’s invisibility cloak, I carried with me a generous sense of sweet anonymity. I did not run into anyone I knew or look at the clock to see how much time I had before I had to get to so-and-so. I did not worry about anything waiting for me at home as I opened books to read last pages (a sure sign of whether or not I’ll like the story.) I did not consider anyone noticing how many cups of coffee I’d had that day, or even that my hair was a strugglin’ in the rain. No, they did not notice me at all, and the day was mine.


I say this to say go away. Tomorrow, I will go sit behind my desk at a place where everyone knows my name, and I’ll write for them (I’ll love it). In a few days, I’ll enter classrooms for the first time again and watch my planner swell with reading assignments and paper due dates. The world will begin to spin once more, and I will not mind. But you must go away, you must run for a bit down unknown streets. May you enter your kind of store and wander for hours, until your feet ache a little and you’re holding a treasure(s). May you spend a whole day speaking to people who do not know your name, who do not know your story, who do not care to give you anything but a smile. May you remind yourself how it feels to hang out with you; if you can’t remember, may you learn again. Tell yourself your favorite jokes and listen to your favorite songs and remember that you are a swell, singular sort of person. I encourage you to catch sight of that face of yours in the mirror and crack a smile because your curls are windblown or your cowlick is flying. May you get a little lost and get a little found, all on your own.

May you take back what’s yours, just for a bit, so that you may give again. May you go and be and breathe and realize it’s all an adventure, and it’s yours for the finding.



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