Why do we wander | Where do we go


Sometimes wandering doesn’t mean leaving home and finding something or someplace new, sometimes wandering means following your feet back to something old and familiar: to places from your past, to people whose faces you’ve known, to the memories you thought you had forgotten. Sometimes, these are the places you find something unexpected.

These days when I go wandering, I often go down the same roads and paths I discovered 5 years ago when I moved to York, Pennsylvania. I don’t know the names of most of them or where they live on a map, but I do know the curve of each street as it curls around an aged church or plot of freshly farmed corn. I know the sweet smell of the orchard that’s perched just at the top of that peak and the sound of a warm summer breeze as it glides over that lake and winds itself through the surrounding tree canopies. These paths and places that I have wandered more times than I could count over the years have become my sanctuary. They do not hold the instant excitement that comes from spontaneously turning a corner to find a new scenic view or a quaint little coffee shop in an unfamiliar town. But they do hold memories: I drove my friends down that path once, as the rolling hills and soft hum of a Sunday drifting by sent them off into a calm doze after finals week; I stared thoughtfully over the landscapes reflection in the glazed surface of that body of water as I nervously contemplated life after graduation; I tried to save runaway cows as they crossed that road because they thought they were better suited for untamed pastures. These places keep my collected thoughts and memories, holding them in the cracks and imperfections of time worn asphalt and rooted deep under the ever-changing earth of the countryside, until I come back to retrieve them. In these places I make new memories to be kept and call upon the old ones as I look toward the future. They keep the remanence of who I was in the past and the possibilities of who I will be in the future.

Sometimes when I wander I turn down random roads and chase the excitement of finding new places, but sometimes I follow the same familiar paths back to myself.