Travel Journal: Nesting Instinct

I was looking through some of our vacation photos today and I began to think about travel and who we are when we travel.
There’s a famous quote (attributed to Confucius) that translates to something like:

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

While there is the deeply spiritual aspect to this observation, I was musing today on a related but slightly less profound plane of thinking:
We vacation with the hope of leaving behind the stress of our regular life and our mundane responsibilities. We travel to escape, to get away from it all. Sometimes we may even fantasize about leaving behind our everyday personalities and behaving in a completely unprecedented, uninhibited fashion. At the very least, I think most of us imagine that being in a new place will free us from our normal routines and habits and expose us to new ideas and ways of doing things.
While we may very well realize a new version of ourselves to some degree, it seems no matter how we try to leave them behind, our little idiosyncrasies always manage to come along for the ride showing up in one way or another.
This line of thought led me to ask myself: 

What (aspects) do I bring along when I travel?

Who am I no matter where I go?  

Immediately, as if on cue, one scene after another flashed to mind giving me some very straightforward examples and I chuckled at the obvious answer:  I nest. I’m a nester. Wherever I go I set up house.  Even when I was a little girl.

Some of my fondest memories are of arranging autumn leaves in lines to form the floor plan of our house—giving much thought to the best location for each room.

In the winter, snow was the medium and hours were spent carving the interiors of our club houses to include shelves and lounge chairs until I had it “just so.” Then—and only then—could the meeting of “The Secret Seven” be called to order.

At girls camp, I thoroughly enjoyed determining the best location for our table in relationship to our food prep area, organizing and constructing make-shift shelves and towel holders out of branches. I took great care to ensure our tent was situated just right so as to have the best view, forming a reception area between the colonnade of trees with a pine needle entry rug.

I remember one summer, camp was situated on a small hill a bit up from the other sites so I went to-task carving steps into the hillside up to our tents. I have no idea what everyone else was up to during this time, but I was happy as a lark designing and digging all on my own.

I took my first solo trip to Italy a few years back.

I spent six weeks in a one bedroom “appartamento” in a 14th century castle in a beautiful hilltop village south of Florence. Though I was there to write, relax and explore (all very pleasant activities to be sure) what I enjoyed as much or more than anything was setting up house and making that little place my own…
First on my “To Do” list was to find a white bed cover. Though the apartment had classic, rustic finishes and furnishings I absolutely loved, there was a rather sad, floral bedspread (circa 1970, possibly?) that looked glaringly out-of-place to me.
On the second round of assessing my new abode,  I ended up back in the bedroom where I neatly folded the bedspread (telling it I was sorry as I did) and gently placed it in the back of the armoire. “Better to have no bed covering for the time being,” I thought. I opened up the shutters to let the remaining daylight in and set out to the market for groceries and a few things to spruce up the place.
Later, I would return with wildflowers picked outside the village walls for my kitchen table and colorful fruits and vegetables I placed out in a basket I found tucked away. I washed the half dozen canning jars I had purchased to house my dry goods and displayed these on an open shelf. Sorting through the cabinets, I found shallow glass bowls and used these for the candles I had found at the one souvenir shop still open.
Once everything was neat and tidy, I opened up a bottle of wine and with the centuries-old stone walls glowing in the candle light, I set to work creating my first pasta dish of the trip.

{Recipe: Pennoni Rigati con Cavolfiore}

I wouldn’t find my white bedspread for another couple of weeks, but that was all for the best. This self-imposed assignment became a treasure hunt that led me to many other discoveries—wonderful people I would not have met otherwise and out-of-the-way places I most likely would not have come across had I not been on this quest.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy a well-appointed, perfectly-designed, with-all-the-amenities, luxury accommodation, too!  But I have to say, some of my best experiences and fondest memories have come when I had the creative challenge of making something out of a little bit of nothing. Making—wherever I am—home.
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