Families logo

Chronicles of a Wanderer

Stories from a different time and place

By Ute Luppertz ✨ Published 20 days ago 5 min read
1
Chronicles of a Wanderer
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Can I go home with you? May I visit? Can I have a sleepover?

I was four years old, and I wanted to get away. My strategy was to ask every neighbor we met on the way to and from the store whether I could go home with them.

My fascination with other people’s lives started early. I was curious about their houses; the kitchen smells — what did they eat? What was in the pots? There was usually a couch in the living room — what were the fabrics like? Were they velvet? Velvet fabric was a secret obsession of mine. Or was it a faux leather sofa?

The highlight was the bedroom, where I could find hidden treasures if they let me go there. There were big beds, massive furniture chests, and the musty scent of heavy curtains, which were often closed. Whenever I was allowed in there, I looked for the decorative pillows and shams and a doll or teddy bear in the center of the bed. This used to be a thing with my grandma’s friends. They were flattered when I wanted to visit.

Did they have perfume in their bathrooms? Toiletries? A lipstick? Jewelry? I wanted to touch things, feel the fabric, paint my lips, and eat a sandwich with different toppings than we had at home. Thank you, ma’am.

These adventurous propositions were okay with my grandma but not so much with my mother. She was embarrassed, and I got scolded for asking strangers to take me home. I also got grounded for being a troublemaker. That’s when I started drawing a lot to have an outlet for my fantasies.

Life got harder when I started elementary school. I was socially clumsy and needed help making friends with the other kids in the class. It didn’t help that the teacher put me next to the dumb kids so that they could copy my writing. In those days, there was no genuine understanding of learning differences. Let’s say it was not a walk in the park. I was sort of brilliant and, at the same time, lonely.

After school, I wandered and explored the neighborhood. What an adventure it was to figure out which streets led where. Sometimes, I was invited to my classmates’ homes right after school was out, and I dropped in for a moment to see how they lived, take in the smells of the kitchen, examine what kind of furniture they had, and whether there was lipstick I could put on.

I often lost track of time. And I got grounded for being a wanderer and not coming home straight from school. Books soon replaced lipsticks. I loved reading and became insatiable. I walked two miles to the local library weekly and loaded my backpack with books. I discovered many heroes, and new worlds opened up. That’s when I began writing fantasy essays. They were a mix of heroic tales and princess or mermaid stories where I was the main character with magic powers.

My town's city center has a central train station, which was special to me when I was little. Most Sundays, my dad would take my brother and me for a train trip from our suburb to the central train station downtown to buy the Sunday paper fresh from the press at a kiosk inside the station building. The train ride to the central train station was exciting because that’s where the more prominent, longer trains were passing through with travelers going abroad.

I felt giddy with excitement because right in front of my eyes were the schedules for trains to London, Rome, Paris, Prague, Brussels, Naples, and Vienna, which I studied with great passion. I fantasized about wearing a black leather coat, having a long ponytail, and carrying a red suitcase, ready to board one of these trains.

Soon, things changed; I had more chores after school because my parents had started their own business: less playtime, more homework, and I babysat my little brother. When I got bored, I tried on my mother’s lipstick, her nylons, and high heels. The lipstick didn’t go well because I broke it and stuffed it into the tube. The nylons also didn’t survive my fashion experiments. Before long, fashion and makeup items were locked away.

I started tuning into English radio channels and imagined going to England, the only English-speaking country I had heard of. I tried to mimic the language, sounding it out without knowing the meaning of the words.

Then, something remarkable happened when I turned eleven years old. We had foreign language classes! English!! My heart swelled with hope because this was potentially a way out. Knowing the English language meant I could take a train, go to England with my leather coat, grow my hair into a ponytail, and wear lipstick.

The next few years were a blur. There were body changes that I despised, and I went to a new school. Being thirteen was the least favorite year of my life. I didn’t quite fit in, and the romantic fantasies of traveling and seeing new places and people faded into the background in the whirlwind of puberty. Things were just weird.

Then, one day, when I was fourteen years old, everything changed. There was talk of a summer language program in Ireland with homestays. Oh boy! I got excited. Finally, real life would catch up with my fantasies. The kicker was that the program was for fifteen-year-olds. I was too young. The dream got shattered before I had fully dreamt it. As fate would have it, the organizers convinced my parents to sign me up for the program despite my age, which they reluctantly agreed to. The tables turned in my favor.

I packed my suitcase eagerly, took my first plane ride to begin my adventure abroad, and stayed with a family in Dublin.

I ate mutton with defrosted peas for lunch and toast with salted butter for dinner. We had language classes in the morning, took many field trips, and went to teenage dance clubs on Saturday afternoons. My host family let me stay out late at night, and I walked along the shore of the Irish Sea. People were friendly and curious and invited me to Catholic mass on Sundays. I was even featured in a Gaelic newspaper.

Being away from home and discovering a new country was beyond my wildest dreams, and I was in heaven. When I thought nothing could top my bliss, I fell in love with an Irish boy named Liam.

That’s a story for another time.

travelchildren
1

About the Creator

Ute Luppertz ✨

I am an animal lover, a meditator, and a wisdom keeper. I live my passion through writing about life and animals and working as a pet death doula and animal communicator.

You can learn more about me here: petspointofview

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (1)

Sign in to comment
  • ROCK 20 days ago

    I relate very much to your wandering little self, (assuming you are writing about yourself); I was fortunate to travel with my parents and friends as a girl and now am quite the homebody, albeit in a foreign land. I love you little red suitcase dream and smushing your mother's lipstick back into it's tube, lol! Wonderful story!

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.