I’ve been mainlining “House Hunters International.”
A steady shot straight to the gut of what my life could be. Sandy beaches. Outdoor cafes. Wine at twilight. Monkeys ravaging my luggage, wearing my underwear. Pet dolphins eating Cap’n Crunch out of the palm of my hand. Me eating Cap’n Crunch out of the palm of my hand.
There is danger in watching a Sunday marathon of “House Hunters International.” You start to lose your sense of reality. A new country every 30 minutes. A new lifestyle different from your own. The pulsating energy of city lights. The breathless silence of isolated desert. Before you know it, the sun is down, and you’re not sure whether you’re ordering a new passport to become a cheese-maker in Chile, a kite surfer in South Africa or a nudist sculptor in Florence. The only thing you are certain of is that you are moving. It’s only a matter of time before you naturally develop an exotic accent and a classy birthmark on your left cheek and adopt a miniature poodle with a lion cut whose coat naturally changes color to match whichever wine you’re drinking.
I’m suffering from wanderlust.
Perhaps it’s because I stay home more often since having my son. Nowadays, the most exotic place I go is the Panda Express at the mall food court. Chopsticks in hand, I try my best to imagine I’m staring at the Forbidden City, but when I open my eyes, it’s just a Frederick’s of Hollywood. Instead of flying around the world in 80 days, I push a stroller around the 80 carts selling hair bands and cellphone cases. Sure, my toddler loves jumping on the octopus-shaped slide and driving the foam boat in the mall’s kiddie section, but one aquarium does not a scuba trip in the Caymans make.
I used to be interesting. I find myself saying that a lot lately. With two years of backpacking under my belt and work as an adventure tour guide in the Outback on my resume, I used to be interesting. On second thought, perhaps the better word is reckless.
For as much time as I have spent living abroad, it was never lived in the formal fashion of “House Hunters International.” I spent months eating only a single baguette a day, hitchhiking, rock climbing without ropes, sleeping in tents, sleeping on park benches, sleeping in strangers’ homes and doing just about everything that I, now as a mom, will use my every last breath to try to deter my child from doing.
It’s a weird feeling becoming a parent.
On one hand, I’ve never felt more connected. Here is this person whom I created, who owns my heart, whom I breathe for. But on the other hand, I’ve never felt less connected to the person I identify as being, and I haven’t yet figured out how to be both. Folks didn’t like it when Steve Irwin wrangled a crocodile while holding his baby. Back then, I thought that as long as the Crocodile Hunter hadn’t lathered up his baby in goose fat before entering the crocodile den, he was fine. My perspective has changed.
Previously, I spent nights out of my tent, sleeping under the stars, as a pack of dingoes attacked a baby calf less than 100 feet away. Now I’ll ask a dog walker how friendly her 12-week-old puppy is before I let my son pet him. Previously, I would have seen white windowless vans as little more than a nice place to sleep on rainy nights. These days, my son’s obsession with windowless vans, including a knack for running to their back doors, has me a tad bit nervous. Everything I do now errs on the side of safety. Everything I do now errs on the side of boring.
Even my fantasies have become dull. When I watch “House Hunters International,” I find myself ticking off certain locations because of their risk ratios. Australia has too many snakes. Brazil has too many waves. Samoa has a ridiculously delicious Girl Scout cookie named after it, sure to cause diabetes and end in the amputation of limbs.
I thought I’d be crunchier than this. More granola. Not that I’d ever actually eat granola; I’m not that crazy.
Perhaps it is time to turn off the TV and dust off the ol’ tent. There may be too many waves in Brazil, but there aren’t any in my backyard.
Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. Check out her column at http://didionsbible.com. To find out more about Katiedid Langrock and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.