roots and wings

Staying put was never my thing.

There was a time when I moved every two years, at least. I itched for change. For the rush of starting something new, carving out space in an unknown corner. I traveled, I moved. I made friends, started to get settled, and than picked up and moved again. Sometimes I’d move back to my hometown for a bit and then take off again. I was in full on flying mode, wings ever at the ready; I knew I wasn’t ready to put down roots just yet.

And that made my life pretty interesting.

In 2004, I wound up on a road trip in the Kalahari Desert with a great friend, her mom, and her stepsister. Four women piled in a jeep, cruising through desolate southern Africa; it was really something. At the time, I was living in New York City, just finished grad school and had turned down counseling jobs in the Bronx and Shanghai. I had no idea what I was going to do when I got back to the U.S., so my desert adventure was a perfect detour. We spent our days spotting rare birds and springboks, goemsboks, and zebra, chatting with San Bushmen. At night, we’d crouch in shelters overlooking watering holes, hoping to spot a lion, drinking tea out of thermoses, whispering and giggling in the cold.

One night, I looked up at the amazing, huge, sky and marveled at the sight of it. Clear. Limitless. Not so unlike the sky I’d seen lying on my back in the front yard at home. I knew in that moment, that whatever I ended up choosing to do, wherever I ended up choosing to go next, it would be right; I could feel it in my gut.

And so weeks later when walking down Farmington Avenue, rocking my favorite pink “Glam is Back” t-shirt, I listened to that feeling in my stomach when the opportunity to move back home presented itself. Worlds away from the Kalahari, I conjured up that clarity and though it seemed crazy to be 29 and moving from the greatest city in the world back to Hartford, I heard what my heart was telling me.

Seven and a half years later, I am so grateful that I listened.

I wound up back in little old Hartford, whose sidewalks I know as well as my own palms. Whose homes cradle the people that I love. Whose streets inspire me, challenge me, remind me. I wound up wonderfully enmeshed in the lives of family and old friends, in the families of my friends; challenged by carving out a new space for myself in the place that I knew so well but that had changed as much as I had.

I wound up working in a school where I am happy to go each day. Where I have found so much joy and reward; where I have been part of building something exceptional. I wound up being one of the lucky people on this earth who get to make a bit of a difference each day; working in a place with people who have empowered me to grow in ways that I never could have imagined that day on Farmington Avenue when my phone rang.

At the time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I felt like everything in my life was up in the air. I was mourning the end of a phase of my life and reveling in the beginning of another. I was scared. I was completely in flux.

Today? The flux continues.

And as it does, I go back to that quiet night under the stars; I conjure up the Kalahari clarity and remind myself that change is good; it’s not comfortable, but it is good. I give myself permission to reflect on all that for which I am grateful. I remind myself to trust the process, to trust my gut.

No matter what kind of noise is crowding my mind, my gut is always worth listening to. It has led me to some amazing people, some unlikely places and some experiences that made no sense to me until they were long over, but, my gut, it knows a thing or two.

This time, I don’t need to go to the desert to listen to myself. While my life may not be quite as exciting and interesting and story-worthy as it was back when I was rootless, footloose and fancy free, the flux feels powerful and exciting instead of scary.

And while I haven’t put away my wings entirely, my roots are here, at home; deep and strong and full of hope.


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Becky
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 12:00:51

    Roots grow deepest when the soil is nourished regularly. Yours do because you have cultivated the soil around you making those roots strong and all the while creating on your life’s tree the most beautiful flowers, the shiniest leaves, and branches spaced just right to allow the sun to reach others too!


  2. Bethany
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 12:49:33

    Beautiful post, Susannah. By the way, I love the fact that my roots rub up against your roots.


  3. jannaj
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 13:19:34

    Thank you for taking me back to the kalahari. The purest air, clearest sky, brightest stars but spiritual and blessed because you were there. Your presence and light is missed in this little part of the world that you left your mark on- come visit soon.


    • mcglam
      Mar 25, 2012 @ 14:51:53

      JANNAJ! that trip was unforgettable…i carry those images with me always; especially of that crazy little ground squirrel that stalked us while we were making jewelry!!!! love and miss you more than words…


  4. Patrick McGlamery
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 14:10:39

    Change is simply change, roiling out of basic goodness, like the mist twisting off a still pond. Your gut is right.

    Interesting to look at our family, a family of wanderers, ever questing off, tasting the air in foreign places, the food on foreign tables, the people and stories in lands around the world. And always, always trusting the basic goodness of the world, and yet always coming back. “Glam is Back.” Interesting.


  5. Michael McGlamery
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 15:39:27

    First of all, I for one am so happy that “Glam came back”.
    Secondly, I would say that your life now is just as exciting and interesting and story-worthy as it was when you were rootless, footloose and fancy free. Its just different and you are more grown up!
    I look forward to the continuing “grounded growth” saga….


  6. Aunt Molly
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 21:31:14

    I am so happy that you are happy. You express yourself so well! I felt, through your writing , the old and exciting gut feelings of being a fellow wanderer. We have been blessed with our opportunities haven’t we.
    Love you Susannah!!


  7. Steve F
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 19:00:26

    We’re privileged that you put your roots down here. You might have bloomed anywhere.


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