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“what does ‘wanderlust’ mean?”

i get this question posed to me like a zillion times a day. it perplexes me, simply because i think, “uhhhh, break it down….wander…lust…the lust to, well, wander?” but then i fight the devilish urge to be snarky, and i gently explain, “well, its meaning is the ‘desire to travel’,” and i then get comprehensive nods of understanding, as the question asker is usually someone who is, in fact, traveling, hence, they realize that they, too, are wanderlusts. (german tourists in particular are awed that i used this word to name my shop, as its origin is from the german and a word i guess that is used frequently in their homeland. i’ve had a variety of explanations of its meaning in their language, from “skiing and hiking” to something about a national poem/song using this word. i even once had a woman insist i was a travel agent and kept asking me to change her bus ticket, and she kept looking at my computer to see the progress i was making in the changing of her ticket…fortunately, i had a german-speaking friend here who was able to explain to her that i was indeed NOT a travel agent, that would i NOT be working on the rearrangements of her holiday, that in fact i sell dresses–“see? look around this store!”, said in german–and directed her to a real agent right down the street).

so while ‘wanderlust’ may not have been the simplest and most obvious of words to select in the naming of my business, ‘wanderlust’ is who i am, who i aspire to be. and while i am loving living in siem reap, i am feeling the itch, the desire, the need, the urge, to move and journey and go and see see see. like a junkie in a frantic search for their next fix, i am feeling this overwhelming panic that there’s so much out there that has been untouched by my own feet, unseen by these eyes.

i want to sit on the banks of the ganges river in india for an entire day. i want to arrive at sunrise, and sit folded on the ground, with a pack of smokes at the ready and maybe a ziploc stuffed with plain naan tucked into my bag for an afternoon snack, and look out all day at the life, the motions and the movements, that enters into this frame, my frame. i want to see for myself how this river, this huge and instrumental conduit to living and surviving in india, is essential, powerful, meaningful in every day existence. how it provides a highway, a means of getting things to and fro, how it’s the home to rituals and rites and passages. i want to see the pyres and the bathing and the washing and the swimming and the living and the dying and the working that occurs in and around this river. i do not want to leave my perch until sunset. i want to be still for hours and have the movements and motion and chaos swirl around me. i want to be in this. in it. i want to do this.

to travel the silk road from start to finish. to see and understand and acknowledge how east met west so so long ago. how noodles became pasta and how fashion moved from just protecting one from the elements to something more ornamental and emotional and betrayed our innermost feelings. how multicultural the world became because of this road, i want to be on this road and walk down it, walk right down the center of it, through the villages and mountains and rivers and lakes and puddles and forests. i need to see for myself how art and color and languages and materials and knowledge traveled and moved and became shared , how things melded into each other, transformed themselves into something different, a conglomeration of ideas and thoughts and inspirations. this road, this critical journey into the world we live in now. i want to do this.

to take an unairconditioned bus through the parched landscape of southern africa. to witness animals in their habitat, to see them living and working and fighting and in constant motion whether mankind is there to witness it or not. to see for myself that things happen without the infusion and involvement of the human race, to know that the world spins and revolves in spite of itself. i want to see this. i want to do this.

i dream of nepal, the colors of the sky, the blueness that defies description. of the hills and mountains of laos. the middle east and all its strange sounds of language and music. jordan. jordan. i want to come and see you, jordan, can i please? the souks of tunisia, i want to come hide in your shadows, explore your mysterious darkness and light. i want to light oil lamps to illuminate the desert while i am camping in gobi, before i lay back and watch the sky light itself up with it’s very own lamps. i want to come across handmade batiks in kenya and learn how to do it, stick my arms elbow deep into natural dyes and squish fruits and roots under my bare feet to create new colors. i want to hear traditional folk hymns sung in the native dialects of indonesia. i need to do a cannonball into the dead sea.

“what does ‘wanderlust’ mean?”

i am the definition.

i am wanderlust.

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3 Comments

  1. Wanderlust is something I am all too familiar with. It runs through my blood and calls to me daily,hourly every second of every minute. I have been wandering most of my life and now I am stuck. STUCK. I pray that it is temporary but in this world money IS needed to wander. For now I will live on the memories of a life of wandering and continue to look for ways to wander again.
    I am happy that you have wanderlust for it is a great way to escape from the small minded materialistic inhumane ways we seem to be surrounded by in the United States. Many blessings and prayers to you on your wanderlust journey. Once started it will never end. It IS the greatest gift from God that no man can take away. Bless you Bitsy. Lots of love and good vibrations sent in your direction.

  2. Do I know you? You are from NYC. I met you before through Tony. I would like to chat for a moment.

  3. hello elizabeth.
    nice piece in WWD!
    i was the architect for the A+F campus
    as well as for the Ruehl store concept.
    i am thinking about bailing on NYC and going to plan B.
    ??
    you have inspired me to plunge further ahead into uncharted waters.
    the store looks cool and the give back is great. Accolades!
    Best, Ross


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