I remember when belonging did not matter.
I would run in circles naked in my yard screaming “I’m jungle boy.”
I had a bowl cut from repeatedly snipping my hair when my mom wasn’t looking.
I thought shredded carrots with balsamic vinegar was better than candy.
I wore leotards with stirrups
thickly applied lipstick to my top lip, left the bottom lip bare
and basically thought I was the coolest person in the entire world.
And then one day
just being me wasn’t enough anymore.
I wanted to belong.
Somehow I snagged a seat with the cool kids
but everything that made me different brought me shame.
I was acutely aware that I was the only one without designer jeans
the only one with divorced parents
the one who said bizarre outspoken things
the one that no one ever seemed to understand.
So I tried to be normal.
I tried to belong.
When I started traveling
I was introduced to a world where normal did not exist.
Where belonging meant nothing
because people don’t own places
and places don’t own people.
The more I traveled the more I saw
that everyone is different
that everyone is odd
and that at times everyone feels alone.
I began to wonder
if I am actually as strange as I feel
or if we are all a slough of misfits
expressing a mere reflection of the normalcy around us.
If we have to leave that normalcy behind
and enter a place of complete unknown
before we begin to become on the outside
what we actually feel on the inside.
Now back in Seattle
in the place where I always longed to belong
I feel like I relate to no one and no one relates to me.
In the past I retreated to the comfort of Puerto Viejo
the only place that ever felt like home.
But I no longer feel the invisible string that has connected my heart to Costa Rica since the day I got on that plane.
I finally feel ready to let it go.
I finally feel ready to open myself to something new.
That is more terrifying and more freeing that I can explain.
It leaves me wondering
where do I belong?
A month from my next global adventure
I find myself hoping to find my new Puerto Viejo.
Hoping that I will find a place again where I feel like I belong.
Maybe I will and maybe I won’t.
Maybe that feeling of belonging won’t last forever.
Maybe I am meant to wander.
And as different as it makes me
maybe that is ok.