When you have a wanderlust soul, you live one decision at a time.
You can tell them by their eyes: the faintest glimpse of an ocean’s tide rising and swelling as they yearn for the sea, for winds of sails and foreign sands held captive in the far-away look they wear while shuffling along a midday street in a pulsing crowd. They are never really grounded in one spot; even as their bodies go through motions they cringe to repeat, they are biding their time ’til the next undoing. They awake with each dawn and instinctively glance skyward, searching for a sign, some restlessness in the clouds or the call of a lingering moon. They are unsettled, in the truest and most beautiful sense of the word. They belong nowhere, yet every place is their truest home. They feel welcomed by rivers and forests alike, and wherever they are, they wear leaving in their eyes.
They say “good morning” to you, but it always sounds like good-bye; they haven’t learned the permanence of language, packing up their syllables like most-worn pairs of shoes and trying them on anew when the dawn breaks. They need not say “I’m leaving” because this is always understood; they settle into the comfort of “see you again, perhaps.” With them, there is only “you never know” — and they believe this completely. They might be back, to stay long enough for you to learn to miss them all over again. Once they feel the pressure of walls and morning commutes weighing them down like leaden vests, they study the constellations and leave in the middle of the night — a door swinging ajar, a necklace left stranded on the bathroom floor, a sliver of their mercury soul spilled across cold tiles.
They are a company of leavers, stories of their skychasing littering their traversed paths and lingering in the empty spaces like a lost lover’s perfume, delicate and irrevocable. They never plan; a stolen night might turn into months, their head tucked safely into the crook of another’s elbow, toying with the uncertainty of an almost-love the way a child dreams of netting down the stars – but they know not how to fight the urge to run, and a sudden thunderstorm might lure them from your arms with all the magnetism of a lunar tide and whisk them far away before you ever get to say that you’d go, too.
When all the while, you knew she’d never let you; you knew she’d tell you, “Stay.”
They were never meant to be caught; they are not the ones you will pin down with promises of love and ever-afters, with rooms stuffed full of things and pillows upon which you’ll touch your foreheads close together and plan out your one-days in midnight whispers. They see tomorrow as a challenge, as an open sky for them to fall into that has no end in sight; they have recurring dreams of mountain trails leading straight into the sun. They only love the things that set them free: running barefoot with the wind at their backs; practicing yoga on an ocean cliff; digging for oysters in the hope of uncovering a pearl to string around their neck and add the only bit of gravity to their airborne frame.
And yet, when you meet her — when you put your fingertips against her face — you will feel your whole life change in an instant, feel the heat rise through your body and make you dizzy with the unprecedented realization that you have found something rare, something you’d give your life to keep close. You look into her bluegreenwildfire eyes and know that you will never want something more than you want her, and you wrestle with the panic of how to not lose her, all the while knowing that to hold her is to grapple with the wind.
But maybe — just maybe — if you wordlessly let her go, you will find her in the end, where all the unknown roads of this quiet earth must surely lead. Perhaps you will be the one she remembers when the winds blow cold and she learns to look behind her, from her place among the mountains or a shore where she shakes sand out of her hair; perhaps her wandering feet will lead her unconsciously back to your door, which you never locked again after the day you saw her face. And rather than settle down beside you in your square of land, she will pull you to your feet and take you with her.
And you will have never had a choice.