It Itches!: Feeling the Burn of Wanderlust

Itchy itchy...

“I’ve been home for nearly 4 months. My feet are so itchy, it feels like I got athlete’s foot.”

Okay, it was a bad joke. But that’s what Twitter’s for, right?

It’s not that I’m counting the days (not really). It’s not that I’m unhappy in my life at home or looking for escape. It’s just that I have this “incurable wanderlust” (what @cultoftravel speculated was worse than swine flu), and the more I read about travel, write about travel, tweet about travel, and am generally immersed in a virtual sea of travel, the worse it gets. I don’t have any problem going to a bar and not drinking, but reading travel blogs and knowing I won’t be doing any serious adventuring for a few more months—well, that’s tough. Ever since my first trip, I’ve gotten antsy when I’ve stayed at home too long. This whole travel writing business is adding a little more heat to the ring of fire.

I may be chomping at the bit, but it’s all good stuff that’s keeping me home. I have a niece on the way, my dad is retiring, and I have four friends getting married in the early half of the summer. All totally happy, exciting things that I’m grateful to be a part of. Plus it gives me a chance to save up for my next long trip, a three-monther around Southeast Asia.

In the mean time, I’m plotting a little solo California roadtrip for next month. Partly to visit an old friend, partly to see the swallows of San Juan Capistrano. Partly because I haven’t driven down Highway 1 since I was a kid, and partly because I’m curious what kind of conversations you get into with yourself after days of driving solo. Partly to debunk my own stereotypes of Southern California as a cultural wasteland of SUVs, strip malls and Kardashians, and partly to practice toting my laptop on the road with me. But, honestly, the trip is largely a keep-me-sane tide-me-over until the funds and circumstances—aka The Travel Gods—see fit to unleash me on the world again.

So as my feet are itching, my fingers twitching and my plans to high-tail it down the highway taking shape, I uncovered an old poem about restlessness, impulsivity and the physical road that hit the spot.

MacArthur Maze

Let’s drive this thing

into the blood burning sky.


Let’s take this road

potholed and hissing

past the pitched roofs

and pigeon wings,

past electrical wires

and blown-out streetlamps,

brown hills

where the grass cackles

and waits

to be lit.


Let’s curve

into the black, under

the overpass, past

the vacated bodies,

curled in and sighing—


Let’s take this thing

where it leads,

if it leads,

or stampedes


us into a sunburnt sky

the color of our own

sunburnt skin.

Now get me on the road!

12 Responses to “It Itches!: Feeling the Burn of Wanderlust”

  1. 1 Nick February 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I can empathise with your itchy feet, though I guess I don’t get it so much since I’m so lucky to live where I do (though I would like to get out more). My problem is the times I do return home, I suffer from this sort of intense reverse culture shock!

    Love the poem!

  2. 2 Brubby February 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    don’t forget about Hawaii my sweet sister. it’ll be an adventure of a much different type.

    i learned a great lesson from a 3 year old, named Zaia. i was very excited to take her to the park and play. this was no ordinary park but a park of my childhood. mashed together with vivid color my mind blended dreams and reality of my youth spent at this park. i had not returned to this friend for many many years but still the park echo in my solo. much like returning home, my heart oozed into every inch of my being, excitement. i could not wait to share this with someone so deserving, perhaps she was the only one who could love this place the same.

    she walked ungodly slow, stopping at this flower and that one, jumping on this rock and that one. chasing butterflies, chasing squirrels, staring at ants, anything and everything but walking. didn’t she know how wonderful this park was, what a gift i was going to show her. no amount of encouragement or prodding would move her along. i was growing impatient. at this rate we would never make it to the park. i was angry. then, my wife to be at that time, Emily said ‘who cares shes having fun.’

    i got it, sometimes its not about the destination it about the trip, the travel. the path is often more important then the places we go.

  3. 3 Abbie February 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I’m starting to feel the same way, but I don’t have any real trips planned 😦 You should let me know when you’re going to be traveling through Anaheim – we should have coffee or tea or whatev! Email me 🙂

  4. 4 Becca February 24, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    LOVE the poem, absolutely love it. Wow. Of course, I’m a fan of your work in general, but this poem really jumped off the page. I feel it. I think this poem’s wanderlust is contagious!

    • 5 laurenquinn February 24, 2010 at 10:22 pm

      Oh, it’s like old times. We just need to get Judith and that cinnamon bread in the mix!

      Thanks for the love, lady.

  5. 6 Candice February 25, 2010 at 10:03 am

    You and I, my dear, are two of a kind!

  6. 7 Gray February 25, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Oh, I’m jealous about your Highway 1 road trip! Well, sort of. I’m not big on solo car trips, I’d rather go with a buddy for that sort of trip…but I can’t wait to live it vicariously through you!

  7. 8 Karen February 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I am sooo feeling this too. I’m going on a big trip in June but that still seems so far away. While I love living in Hawaii, it does make spontaneous trips to new places a little trickier.

  8. 10 Karen February 28, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Ah, I shoulda said Oahu. I haven’t made it to the Big Island yet, but have a great time!

  9. 11 Sugar May 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    At last! Someone who undsertnads! Thanks for posting!

  1. 1 Recommended Reads: February 28, 2010 | Trackback on February 28, 2010 at 6:51 am
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Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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