Wanderlust & Domesticity: Mutually exclusive?

Beryl Markham deplaning in Kenya.

Is an interesting, itinerant life incompatible with domesticity?

A year ago I would have said yes without thinking twice about it. And I needed only look to the trailblazers of yore to reinforce my point. Foreign correspondent (and one-time Mrs. Hemingway) Martha Gellhorn died alone and childless. British adventurer Freya Stark never married. Pioneering pilot Beryl Markham divorced three times.  Hardly paragons of domesticity, and I can’t blame them. Their lives were too dynamic, their spirits too free to be confined by the rhythm and routine that accompany long-term relationships or child rearing.

While I am not in the same league as these ladies (who also came of age in a vastly different time) my own views on wanderlust versus settling down boiled down to two choices: Either a stale, stable suburban existence complete with marriage, babies and annual family vacations, or a life untethered. Considering that the idea of a life comprising diapers, station wagons and PTA meetings is about as appealing as eating an entire plate of cilantro and then gauging my eye out with a fork, the choice was an obvious one.

Which is why, after deciding to relocate to Sweden for love, I so enjoyed Elisabeth Eaves’ “Modern Love” column that ran in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. A diehard traveler, whose adventures and overall badassery put mine to shame, Eaves discusses her own struggles with commitment and the ever-seductive pull of the undiscovered.

“Part of my impulse to travel came from never wanting to commit to just one thing,” she writes.

“I had created a life that afforded me the illusion of endless choice. I could work for this freelance employer or that one; choose spontaneously to live in Hong Kong or the Outback. The ‘or’ was what mattered.”

Now happily engaged to a fellow travel junkie, Eaves has found that a settled life isn’t necessarily a static, boring one. That wanderlust and domesticity need not be mutually exclusive. That with a like-minded partner in crime, you can enjoy security, comfort and stability, as well as the thrill of hitting the road. Perhaps not a life completely untethered, but tethered just enough to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Or not.

What do you think? Is a an adventurous, passionate life incompatible with domesticity of any sort? Or can a compromise be reached?

2 responses to “Wanderlust & Domesticity: Mutually exclusive?

  1. I am so glad to see you posting again, lady. As for your question, I am not sure. Some people have been able to pull it off, but only those with partners with an equal level of adventurous insanity. Is your nordic lad up to snuff?

  2. Thanks! Yes, back after a bit of a hiatus. RE Nordic Lad’s adventurousness: He has proposed throwing caution to the wind and sailing around the word for a year (or two), so yes :)

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