The Wondering Wanderer

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July 14, 2015 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

“Yeah I went with nothing, nothing but the thought of you, I went wandering”

-U2, “The Wanderer”

Besides having sex, the two most intimate things you can do with someone else is share a meal with them and take a walk with them.  Watching someone eat is a lot like watching someone jerk-off since they’re both (usually) solitary endeavors, and we’re typically embarrassed about doing them.  The way someone eats is probably the last remaining acceptable way of passing judgement on another person, and because of we all know this, we all try and eat to the upmost of our manners when sharing a meal with another person.  When we know we’re being watched while we eat, we’re automatically on our best behavior because we’re trying to impress the other person.  When you eat with someone else, there’s an intimacy, a lowering of your guard because your trusting that the other person won’t judge you too harshly.

Walking with someone and eating dinner with someone have the potential to be the most personal settings because the only thing to do is talk.  And in 1-on-1 environments people have a tendency to be very candid, especially when they’re talking to a lover or someone they have feelings for.  More often than not, there’s an emotional dialogue that arises from taking a stroll on a Sunday afternoon with someone.  There’re no distractions or diversions, since you’re stuck with this other person and all you can do is listen to him or her and then speak your part.

I don’t know what it is or if it’s me, but for some reason, every time I’ve proposed going out for a walk with a girl that I’ve been seeing, the answer has always been “No”.  But the way that every single one of them have said “No” would make you think that I had just propositioned them for anal sex.  Meanwhile, all of my friends, all of my friends, have gone on walks with their girls.  It never fails for them; and it’s never worked for me.  I must be doing something wrong.

Back in college whenever I wanted to be alone for needed some time to think, I would do one of two things.  I would either play MVP Baseball 2005 while eating Taco Bell and listening to Madonna until 2:30 in the morning, or I’d go for a walk around campus at 11:30 at night.[1]  The former was usually reserved for Thursdays, in order to get all the heady and superfluous thoughts out of my mind before going out and getting shitfaced on the weekend.  The latter though, would only happen when it rained…which was quite often in Syracuse.[2]

As depressing as it sounds, I actually like the rain.  I like getting caught in the rain, and I love taking a walk in the rain.  When I would go for my introspective sojourns, I’d usually be out for over an hour listening to tonally equivalent songs.[3]  Sometimes I’d be bummed out, other times pissed off, and even other times all together where I’d actually be in a good mood but still wanted to go out in the rain.  In the dead of night, with no one around and a steady downpour of rain, it somehow put everything: the college experience, romance, the future, friends, and classes in an entirely different perspective.  It would put my mind at ease by essentially allowing me to stretch my thoughts out.  Sometimes you get too claustrophobic with your thoughts and you just need space to get out and breathe, both physically and mentally.  By being outside amongst society, it made it seem as if I wasn’t as isolated and alone as I would have been had I stayed in my room and ruminate.

There was always a purpose though, and that purpose was just to think things through or clear my head.  And I’d usually be thinking about a girl, because nothing will make a man search his own soul and question everything he’s ever come to know about himself than someone with two X chromosomes.  This can be quite problematic since most guys are not good at introspective inflection.  But, despite this handicap we go looking for an answer.  I would just have to wander around Syracuse, New York, mimicking the roaming thoughts in my mind.  I would have to bring my thoughts and by body out into the open in an attempt to unify and rectify both in the hopes of figuring whatever “IT” was out.

This is why the greatest song to pensively wander about is U2’s “The Wanderer”.  The song is about a man roaming around a post-apocalyptic earth in search of answers.  Not only is he searching, but he left with nothing but the thought of someone else.  The thought of this other person was what motivated him to wander, to conduct his search into the unknown in the hopes of finding the truth.  The wanderer is looking that other person, the instigator of his rampant thoughts.  Whether your interpretation is that the wanderer is looking for God, himself, or a lover, in order to really sort out his thoughts he has to roam, he can’t be cooped up in one place.  He has to stretch his legs out as well as his thoughts.

Junior year of college I took the most walks than in any other year, and in most of those walks I was looking for someone else as there was usually a girl on my mind.  I went with nothing, nothing but the thought of her; I went wandering.  Whenever you have feelings for someone, there’s always a lot to think about: “Why do I like them”, “Do they like me”, “Could it work out”, “Why wouldn’t it work out”.  These are all questions that we think about, but we can’t provide the answer for ourselves.  But, we keep searching anyway for some clarity, with that person in our heart and in our mind.

During one of my more intensive journeys, I wandered from campus to Destiny USA, a three mile walk through the heart of downtown (cracktown) Syracuse.  On that unseasonably warm December day, I saw two homeless guys get into a fistfight and then passed by an abandoned deli that now doubled as a crackhouse.  Like an errant Odysseus roaming around the Mediterranean with nothing on his mind save for Penelope, I was touring this sector of urban decay with nothing but a girl on my mind wondering if it would ever work between us.

There’s always the hope that whoever you’re thinking of, is in turn, thinking of you.  Anytime anyone ever goes for a walk, they’re innately searching for something.  Sometimes we’re looking for someone else, or for some further clarity or truth about them.  No one else will make you wonder, make you think, and make you search your own soul than someone you care about.  The one’s who make us search our souls most meticulously are the ones we care most about.  There’s no stronger force for turning the mirror inward than the allure of somebody else.


[1] I live a very incongruent life…I know.

[2] In the spring of my freshman year I did not see the sun for 19 days straight.  If Syracuse University gave me Seasonal Affective Disorder, I want a full refund.

[3] I actually had a rain playlist that was made up of some of the more isolating songs on my itunes library.  “Fool in the Rain”, U2’s “The Wanderer” and “Estranged” were the three heaviest hitters.

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