April 23, 2014

the belle effect


I have a healthy sense of adventure.

You wouldn't know it based on where I live (a corporate-managed apartment in my hometown), what I do for a living (communications at a small museum) and the car I drive (a Honda variety without any bells or whistles). My life is pretty vanilla, but I spend the bulk of my time fighting the urge to sell my belongings and hitting the road for an unspecified destination. Only my sense of responsibility to my debts (damn student loan and car loan), not to mention a rental agreement, prevents me from giving in to the desire to go on a spontaneous adventure.

Sometimes I attribute this wanderlust to my ancestors. Between immigrating from their home countries to the United States and packing up their wagons to "settle the West" they must have loved the thrill of exploration, too.

I also blame the Belle Effect -- named for one of my favorite Disney characters who wanted nothing more than to explore the unknown. You remember the scene from Beauty and the Beast. In Belle (Reprise) our heroine goes running through a picturesque meadow a la Fraulein Maria.

I was born in 1986, which means Beauty and the Beast -- like a handful of other Disney flicks -- had a pretty profound impact on me during my formative years. And while I was captivated by the story of a smart pretty girl falling for a prince trapped in a beast's body (and let's be honest, the Beast was pretty damn sexy for being a dog-wolf-bear mix), the glamor of the castle and the general majesty of the whole deal, what most stuck out to me was this element. Belle's unflinching desire to live a remarkable life unlike anything expected for her. A life filled with adventure and wonder.

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell
And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than they've got planned

I made this my motto of sorts when I graduated college. It's the mind-set that led me to a summer internship in Southern Illinois. It's what made me want to take a job that promised a lot of travel.

Six years later, it's what sneaks into my mind at random moments. While I'm on the treadmill pushing for five more minutes of cardio. While I'm going through a series of website updates at work. When I'm trying to finish edits or write a new scene on one of my books.

My first full-time job out of college did a little assuage my desire for adventure. As challenging and exhausting (and at times beyond frustrating) as that job could be, there was something kind of spectacular about waking up one day in Rochester and not knowing whether I'd head west to Buffalo, east to Albany or north to Massena. If it hadn't been for some aspects of the work, I might've done it forever. Or at least through the rest of my 20s.

I've spent the better part of the past few years sitting in an office. To say I'm feeling stir-crazy right now is an understatement. I'm in serious need of another adventure, whatever that might mean. My writing, my sanity and my inner Belle depend on it.

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