It’s not the long walk home that will change

Since the concert, I can’t stop listening to Mumford & Sons. At work, at home, on my iPod as I’m walking. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this fixated on an artist, an album.

Part of it was definitely the concert, made memorable both by the music and by the violent, prolonged thunder-and-hail-storm we sat through as the opening band played. For three-quarters of an hour it poured. Lexie and I huddled together, shivering, under the blanket I’d brought, shielding ourselves from the watery missiles. We were still soaked at the end of the concert but by then it didn’t matter.
The other, bigger factor here, I think, is that this music both mollifies and sharpens the part of me that wants change. In the past few weeks I’ve found myself more and more restive, listless, travel-hungry. Last weekend I enlisted my father for a day-trip west into the rolling hills of Virginia’s horse country, where we went for a pleasantly uneventful hike and then drove around, exploring country roads. Driving on those windy byways brought back fond memories of the summer I spent doing research out at Penn State, where every weekend I would go driving alone, twining my way through the mountains towards destinations that were not the point of the trip.
As the weather gets hotter, I find myself wishing to be elsewhere. Today I’m remembering Dar es Salaam with a nostalgia I never thought I’d feel for that humid, sprawling, undistinguished city. But it has what I’m craving, that strange sense of familiarity that comes when you spend enough time in a place where you speak the language but don’t belong. I miss buying mysterious fried food from street vendors, being engaged in conversations I don’t really want to be in by random men on the street, astonishing everyone I meet with my ability to speak their language. As much as I thought I’d never say this, I miss looking different from the people around me.
This malaise is symptomatic of a lack of change in my life. Right now I’m living with my parents, which is a good and enjoyable arrangement but which also means I’m essentially in the same situation as when I was in, say, 4th grade, except that now I go to work instead of school and can drive myself around rather than requiring my mother to do it for me. After getting home from the Peace Corps this was perfect for me, but now that I’m established and looking at staying in the area and at this job for a few years, it doesn’t seem like something I want to become indefinite. But this inertia is so hard to overcome.

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