Hobo’s have always fascinated me — ever since I pranced out the door one trick-or-treat dressed like one.
With my floppy orange pants, head wrapped with a paisley handkerchief, I was off to an adventure.
I was 7 years old. I remember the feeling of freedom as I trotted down the sidewalk with nothing more than a bag of air at the end of the stick slung over my shoulder and a bit of hope to soon have a mouthful of chocolate. I’m still addicted to the high that both freedom and sugar give me.
Over the years, I’ve embraced my hobo self. I keep my bags packed, ready for impromptu trips, but now I scold myself when I dive face-first into the cupcakes at the dessert bar.
My vagabond nature keeps me moving, but it also keeps me grounded — centered and whole. I feel complete without a detailed map or course of action. I feel more alive, like the auto pilot in me will keep life interesting.
Hobos traditionally travel on foot, but I’m a hobo at heart and enjoy wandering via all modern modes of transportation. Oh, the bliss of roaming high or low, of soaring high above the ocean or buzzing by cornfields on the highway to nowhere.
The most interesting destinations have been the ones that I let my gut navigate. Like the time I hopped off the trolley in New Orleans on a whim and arrived at author Ann Rice’s house just as another tourist did. The conversation ended with the gentleman asking me to submit an article about my personal energy healing experience to a national journal.
Even something simple can be satisfying — something like traipsing into a restaurant I don’t frequent, only to be offered fried feta cheese for free, the same dish that, at an event just the night before, I’d neglected to try because the line was long.
Using my hunches to explore each day’s opportunities is invigorating, indeed, and I know without my free-spiritedness, I’d feel like I was running through quicksand. But sometimes I seek an adventure just to avoid a chore or escape a situation. So I speed onto an activity, thinking I can outrun the dragon that’s demanding to be dealt with … and thus my glorious hobo has a shadow side. It whisks me here and there, hiding me from reality when I let him.
The movement stretches my mind like a massage soothes the muscles, but traversing the countryside — or the world — in order to avoid the dragon on my doorstep only ensures I remain in his snare, and I know I’m a fool to think otherwise.
When I refuse to acknowledge him, he camps out on my lawn and pops open a cold one. He’s got nowhere else to go. He’s my dragon, after all. He’s my fear, my insecurity, my excuse to daydream and prance off toward the sunset.
If I weren’t so hooked on meandering around, I’d plop into the seat next to him. Oh, heck, maybe I’ll do just that — have a conversation with the dragon in my front yard. Maybe I’ll offer him a piece of candy and ask him to fly me into his lair. I am already packed.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County and an author. Her column appears each Tuesday.