Chapter 1: The Quest for Pura Vida

Roots and Wings

“Since when does it have to be one or the other?  You can have roots and wings, Mel.”
-Jake, Sweet Home Alabama

I rewatched this movie a couple of months ago (before all my professors decided to go crazy and assign me projects that would probably be a perfectly reasonable amount of work–if they were in English).  This line struck me because although I haven’t had a major homesickness attack this semester, I’ve started to realize the toll it takes on me to stay away from home so long.

This year, I’ve discovered I have deep, strong roots.  My family moved to the hill country of Texas a few generations back, and stayed there.  I doubt I’ll be the one to leave.  I’m connected to my people, the land, the culture; I’ll never be able to connect to another place in the same way.

“While we come and go in our native land, we imagine that we are indifferent to these streets, that these windows, roofs, and doors mean nothing to us, that these walls are strangers to us, that these trees are like any other trees, that these houses we never enter are of no use to us, the the pavement where we walk is no more than stone blocks.  Later, when we are no longer there, we find that those streets are very dear to us, that we miss the roofs, windows, and doors, that the walls are essential to us, that every day we did enter those houses we never entered, and that we have left something of our affections, our life, and our heart on those paving stones.”
-Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Even if I could connect to another place, or learn to be a nomad, the people in my life can’t just be replaced.  Since I’ve been in Costa Rica, I’ve missed making homemade sausage with my aunts and uncles, going to my favorite band’s concert with my best friend, trips to Six Flags Fiesta Texas, camping on the river with my cousins, most of my friends’ 21st birthdays, my best friend’s graduation, and countless other experiences with the people I love.  My roots tell me it’s time to go home.


For some reason, I was also built with wings.  I’m a spirit that craves change and uncertainty.  Nothing exhilarates me more than to meet new people.  Since I was a child reading fantasy quest books, I’ve wished, hoped, and prayed for an uncharted land to explore.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I love learning a new language as much as I love knowing it.  I want to see more of the world than I’ll possibly have time for in my life; actually, I don’t just want see it.  I want to live it, become a part of it, learn what makes a person love his home as much as I love mine.

I’ll never be able to settle for a week’s vacation at a resort every year, or a once-in-a-lifetime backpacking trip across Europe.  I can’t fit my urge to wander into my life like a puzzle piece.  Roots and wings aren’t compatible.

Every year I spend on a foreign adventure is another Easter alone, another year of missed weddings, another year of being compelled to watch my friends’ lives grow and change on Facebook.  Every year I spent at home means there’s another land I’ll never explore, another mountain I won’t climb, a multitude of people I’ll never meet.

Having roots and wings is a blessing I’ll never deserve and a curse I’ll never want to break.


7 thoughts on “Roots and Wings

  1. Renee, I found your blog last October, when I started thinking about studying abroad and deciding where I wanted to go. I have read all your posts, and I have loved them all. Your personality and your voice come through your writing so clearly. Your posts are always so entertaining and enlightning to read. And, yes, this blog has been so helpful to me in preparing myself to go to Costa Rica (you inspired me start a blog as well!)

    This post, however, is the most beautiful.

    1. I’m glad you like it. I think this is the post I’ve poured the most of my heart in.

      What’s your blog address? I would love to read about your adventures!

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