True confession: I am a huge Star Trek fan. I have been since high school when I stumbled on it on a Saturday afternoon trying to find something other than college football to watch. By the time I found Star Trek, the cardboard sets and blinking light computers had been made quaint by more extravagant sci-fi shows, but for a chronically depressed teenager (redundant, I know) there was something appealing about a vision of a future in which at least humanity had learned to cooperate enough to mount an interplanetary expedition.
The travel junkie in me loved the idea of going to other planets and seeing other creatures and people. But the thing I loved most about Star Trek (and its offspring) was the philosophy enshrined in the Prime Directive. As every respectable Trekker knows, the Prime Directive forbade Star Fleet explorers from interfering in the course of development in the places they visited. In other words, they were there to observe and learn, not to teach.
Thanks to my parents’ influence, my own wanderlust was already pretty healthy by the time I was a teenager. And, while our parents made sure that any trip included a visit to the obligatory museums and monuments, they had their own Prime Directive. It was actually pretty similar to Star Fleet’s: be a good guest when you travel by learning and respecting the local customs and culture. In other words, observe and learn.
I’ve tried to carry these directives with me through most of my life, and Star Trek and my parents have served me well in my travels. Each adventure is a chance to embrace something completely new. I love absorbing the languages and flavors and being absorbed – however briefly – into the local cultures.
And yet, as much as I love immersion, even when our travels have kept us in one place for months or years, there is always a part of me that feels like a visitor.
We’ve lived in Vermont for over ten years, and, even though it’s a longer stay than just about any other place in my life, I do sometimes fret over the grass that’s growing around my feet. A phrase in a recent post prompted a reader to ask me if I was a native Vermonter, and I realized that, despite having birthed a Vermonter and married a man with Vermont roots predating European settlers, I am still very much an explorer at heart. The realization got me thinking, not about my status as a Vermonter but about how I think of home in general.
I love the town we’ve settled in, and I have made some of the closest friends in my life here, but I have also always been willing to pull up stakes when adventure beckons. The Big Guy I married is equally adventurous, but his roots here and in New England in general are deep, and they are strong. Those roots, and the two smaller branches we’ve been nurturing for the last twelve and six years are often the only things keeping my feet on the ground when my heart is getting ready to leapfrog past my head into a new venture.
I don’t know if I’m capable of growing real roots of my own. If I were still single or half of a DINK (double-income no kids), I would be doing my job from a different locale every few months. But I do know that the graft I’ve formed with the Big Guy has helped me figure out where my home is, and it’s anywhere he and our two offshoots have planted their roots.