"Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the [home] I love..."*
I have always placed great value on personal independence, and my propensity for wandering often got me in trouble as a child. I remember laying in the cool damp grass of our front yard on a summer's evening and watching the trail of a jet plane streak across the amber sky, yearning to be on that plane, headed to some far-off place where no one knew my name and I would be free to roam to my heart's desire.
Yet, here I am on a chilly winter's morning, sitting in my "cave," bound to this eleven-by-twelve-foot room, like I am every morning, drinking my soymilk-banana smoothie and talking to myself on a computer screen. Like most (all?) people with MCS, I am mostly homebound, fettered by the disease that isolates me physically from the rest of the world, a canary in a not-so-gilded cage.
Some might think it a miserable life, but a closer examination of this room reveals a different picture. A large bookshelf next to my desk is filled with favorite stories and travel guides, tomes of knowledge from the past and present. On the wall to the right of my desk hang three small silk embroideries from the Mascarene Islands halfway around the world. A television and DVD player sit on another small desk across the room and a radio tuned to NPR (oh, what would I do without NPR?) rests on the floor at my feet. Then there is the computer (actually there are two), which magically links me to more people and information than my feeble mind can possibly comprehend. Like secret conduits, I am surrounded by escape hatches, vehicles for my wanderings, albeit mentally and emotionally, not physically.
Like all wanderers, sometimes I go too far. Lost in a website or 900-page novel, the ringing of the phone or a glance at the clock reminds me that I've forgotten to sleep or eat or, heaven forbid, pick up a grandchild from school. It is my family that keeps me grounded after all. Like the tethers on a gigantic Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon, they hold me (loosely) to reality, obligation and responsibility. They are gentle and patient and I need them. Otherwise, I fear I would just float away into oblivion, never realizing I was even lost.
[*misappropriated from one of my favorite hymns, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing")