The greatest American pastime is not baseball. I know it’s popular, but it’s not the greatest pastime. Nor is eating greasy burgers in gas guzzling cars. No, the greatest American pastime is going. Going somewhere new, somewhere old, somewhere to stretch your comfort zone.
It’s in our nation’s very DNA and our roots. From Leif Ericson and his crew, to the Mayflower pilgrims, to the pioneers of the Wild West, to modern nomads. Traveling, setting out for new places, has always been a part of us. Leif Erickson left Iceland and then Greenland and was among the first Europeans to set foot on North America. The Mayflower pilgrims fled Europe for freedom to practice their own religion. The pioneers of the Wild West were looking for more room, open space, to create lives for themselves from the ground up. And now, modern nomads pack backpacks and suitcases and cars and head for the coasts or the mountains or the desert. Lighting out for the territories is what generations of Americans have been doing, and what we’ll keep doing for generations more.
Lately I’ve been daydreaming about going places more and more. I guess it’s mostly because I’m a senior in college. But I spend hours looking at apartments in Chicago or Indianapolis or Colorado Springs. I search every job website for jobs I can get there to pay my book habit (and of course rent). I read up on all the places I can go to get a master’s in medieval history or public history.
I dream of packing my clothes into a pickup truck, saying goodbye to my family, and setting off for anywhere-but-here. I dream of putting a key into a lock in Chicago and opening the door to my apartment, my home. I dream of adopting a bulldog, naming him Charlie, and walking him through Broad Ripple Village in Indianapolis. I dream of leading tours through a museum, and having a museum ID badge hanging around my neck. I dream of moving to Cardiff, Wales, meeting a Welshman, and learning the history of an adopted country. I dream of opening up my black and white umbrella and strolling the streets of a new city.
I know I’m not the only one with these dreams. I know I’m not unique in them. But they’re keeping me afloat when I so often feel like I’m drowning in uncertainty.