“I’m moving to Italy when my lease is up.”
The waitress, probably not yet in her mid-twenties, is telling me about her self-declared ‘gypsy soul.’
“I’m originally from Santa Cruz, California but I move quite a bit,” she said. She lists off a half-dozen places she’s lived before explaining how she arrived in Austin, Texas.
“I was in Taos for a good bit, but the lack of snow made it hard to make any money waiting tables. A friend told me about Austin and it sounded like a cool place to live for a bit.”
She moves a coaster below my drink.
“I might as well travel while I’m young, right?”
She’s young, traveling light, and the most expensive things she owns are probably the tattoos decorating her skin.
Her story is captivating. She’s well grounded, polite, and seems confident in her journey. Just as many of us focus on settling down, she’s focused on seeing the world – at least at this point in her life.
“I guess you could say I have a gypsy soul.”
She smiles, turns away, and cheerfully heads to another table.
Sitting there I can’t help but impressed by her maturity and courage. Best I can tell, she’s not lost – maybe just the opposite. Her gypsy soul, as she calls it, is really her listening to her personal voice instead of the chorus of society insisting she follows a rote pathway of life. Maybe, her soul is telling her, there is another way.
There is a significant difference between being lost in life and that of being driven to explore a new world or experience just around the corner. One is passive, the other active. And the results couldn’t be more different.
Life is best when discovered. To simply follow the breadcrumbs of those ahead of us is akin to walking blindfolded along a pathway unable to see the dozens of interesting choices and detours available to us. Some are wonderful, others not so. But the point is, each experience shapes us into the person we become.
My mother sold everything she owned at the age of twenty-one and immigrated to the United States. Traveling alone, the only thing she knew for sure if she didn’t want to raise her children in Europe. For the better part of the next couple of years, she traveled up and down the eastern coastline discovering both herself and the new world she’d chosen to live. And much like the waitress in Austin, she waited tables or served as a hostess during that time. For her, she was discovering life – and herself.
My mother’s gypsy soul eventually settled down in the Midwest. She married my father, raised a family, and found her dreams come true. But, as happens, life’s pathway changed as she passed in her mid-forties, interrupting her journey in midstream.
As I left the restaurant I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the young waitress and my mother. Both hear to a voice – one emanating from their gypsy soul. And to both, they realize life is best discovered or revealed one day at a time.
Later this year a young girl with a suitcase and tattoos will purchase a one-way ticket to Italy. For as any true gypsy soul knows, a return ticket is going the wrong direction.
– 30 –