Aunt Alice in Arabia – I’m Leaving Town

May 9, 1990

“You’ve got itchy feet,” a friend said to me.

“No,” I said, “I feel it in my stomach.”

From two to 18, I lived  “in the sticks” as my Chicago cousins called Des Plaines. I saw the sidewalks laid by the neighbourhood fathers, the dirt roads tarred, schools built, cornfields turned into suburbia, the natural lake landscaped and countrified, a K-Mart discount shopping mall built nearby and I had climbed all the climbable trees on my block.  One house. One street. One town. Sixteen years. I wanted out. Since then I’ve moved nearly every two years.

“I’m leaving town,” I tell surprised friends.  I love those words with their Wild West gambler’s ring to them. I feel like Bart Maverick folding the poker cards, saddling my horse and riding out West into the sunset. What’s next?

There was a luncheon job interview atop the opulent World Trade Centre restaurant in Dubai with a menu minus prices and a spectacular view. The hour whetted my appetite for business: lunches, deals, meetings, risks and successes.

Change of life, change of venue, change of career. All at once?  My mind swirls in dust storms of plans, hurricanes of doubt, and droughts of debt.

My married friends glow,  “You can do ANYthing you want!  No responsibilities, no commitments, complete freedom!”

But I feel like a Bedouin minus a tent and camel with the vast, cruel desert surrounding me. Sure, I know where the wadis are, the oases, the towns which will be friendly and which strangers will try to rob me.  But still.

Why do I move so much?  Maybe I have a Bedu chromosome which impels me to wander and find new landscapes.  But finally I have become enlightened:  Real life is played upon heart landscapes while travels are the spices which intensify the moveable feast.

Khalas.*  I’m leaving town and all that really counts in the poker game of life, is to keep my heart open for the next adventure.

khalas, pronounced “ha-las” is Arabic for “finished, over.”