The Bohemian and the Lamp

About once a month, a certain stress starts coming over me. It has been a bothersome visitor for years, nagging my mind from when I wake up in the morning, and haunting me throughout the day, making it hard to focus on anything. I’ve always struggled to figure out what was bothering me and what could fix it.

Today, however, I went to check my daily sketch prompt. It was a lamp. My thought process balked at it. “Lamps are rather boring. I have a total of two small lamps. Look at all the boring everyday objects on this sketch list. I want to sketch interesting things, nothing around my home.”

Then I remembered a name I started calling myself years ago, used on several blogs and accounts. Bohemian.

Husbeast and I recently read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It was an incredibly told tale, the kind that drags you into it and lets you know the characters and their world in a way that leaves your actual reality looking bleak by comparison. The main character is raised in a traveling troupe of actors. Like bohemians.

So as I pondered the depth of my frustration with a simple drawing prompt, I remembered a description in The Name of the Wind describing how Kvoeth’s father, the leader of the troupe, decides when to leave a town and travel to the next. He would get restless and yearn for the open road, even when everything was going well with their current set up. I recognized it in myself. I have always been a bohemian in the artsy wandering sense. The thrill of the new place, the new people, the movement across the wide earth. Admiring everything in nature and made by man with interest and speculation. Being inspired by the sights, sounds, and people. Creating, thinking, and discussing things I’ve experienced. I am in awe of all of it.

How had I labeled myself bohemian over ten years ago and never fully acknowledged the implications? Part of it has been very practical. We’re of a very limited income. We’re of very limited time, with four children, and very big responsibilities. Reading novels or getting very into creating something would stave off the feeling for a bit. But I have summed up my feeling before with the word, “trapped” very guiltily. What sort of mother feels trapped by her children? But it wasn’t the children. It was the lifestyle of being stuck at home. It was the walls binding me. It was looking at the same damn scene out of the same damn window thousands of times. It was never having anywhere to go but the grocery store, when food was not the need I had. It was never meeting new and interesting people, just the same rural folks that populate my area. (Nothing wrong with rural folks. I just craved more kinds of people.)

For a while I had looked back on my college days and acknowledged how delightful it had been to be around a variety of people. But now, I remember the delight of moving to a city after growing up a rural town. There was endless day trips to the beach, to Portland attractions, to a new wilderness every week, and all we’d have to do is just pick a road and drive. Even riding the city bus was a thrill. For the first time in my life I got to take control of being spontaneous.

Then I married, and very soon after was a mother. Having a baby ties you up in an inescapable way, and molds your life into something unrecognizable. Some of that was very good. I was a very silly twenty year old in many ways and I’m glad I’ve grown up. I also adore parenting. I mean, a lot of it was literally shit and sleep deprivation, but they eventually grew out of that. On so many levels, raising little people is a hearty and satisfying challenge. Now they are old enough to take places without it being more work than it’s worth, and it’s fun to break out and explore the world with my kids. But honestly, that’s only a very small percentage of our time. Most of the long hours stink of monotony. It’s cleaning, cooking, making sure they are wearing things, brushing things, washing things, learning responsibility, and other things that are very cyclical.

You wash the dishes that dirty again and wash them again. You fold the clothes that dirty and get washed again. You repeat things a ton with kids and they do the things again. And it’s in the same damn walls. You stare out the window and nothing has changed. Parts of parenthood and being a stay at home mom are awesome. But those other parts, the endless monotony of things that are never actually done and endless tidying, sap my spirit and make me feel trapped.

I know why it’s best to have stability and predictability and frugality. I know I’m building people on limited means and we have made great efforts to do that as loving and responsible as possible. I love my people, my family, and leaving them would break me and break them. So please don’t read this thinking I’m on the verge of leaving them. No. Never. I would leave only if I could take my tribe with me. Bohemians have a troupe. They love adventures together.

I have lived in the same area for nine years now. I have driven these roads again and again, and I long for new roads. I long for excitement and unpredictability. New horizons. New cultures. New inspiration for my art, for my writing.

I don’t want to draw the lamp that has sat on my desk for years. If I were to draw a lamp, I want to find a lamp in a Japanese garden, or in a castle, or any lamp that sparks my curiosity. Today I am restless, and long for the troupe to be on the road, scouting our next adventure with the thrill of unpredictably.

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