A Restless Soul

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Nicole T. Walters -Reinvention6

A journey through old photos of my life will quickly reveal something most people who know me could tell you—I am a restless soul.

I have a hard time staying in one place too long without at least an adventure or two. I love exciting, new beginnings and want to be a lifelong learner. I guess my passport would tell you that too. I am most at home in cultures not my own and love venturing out into the world to learn all I can about a new people, a new place.

It’s evident in those photos of me through the years that I love change—just look at the constant evolution of my hair.

When I was a kid, all the adults in my life loved my stick straight, bright red hair. Other kids would hurl the typical “carrot top” insult my way, though. While other nicknames cut me deeply, this one bounced right off. I didn’t mind that other kids teased me for my unusual hair. Every adult in my life adored it, because it was so unique and so I, too, loved my fiery hair.

But my restlessness kicked in early and I begged to cut my hair that was long enough to sit on by the time I was ten years old. I don’t know how long I had to beg to wear my mom down, but the photos tell the truth. My formerly curled or crimped locks gave way to a pixie cut that made me resemble Peter Pan. I hated it with a passion. (But I never told my mom that. Remember the years of begging? I couldn’t admit I had been so wrong!)

Flat-ironed straight. Layered with side-swept bangs. Permed. (So big!) Short and spiky. A stacked bob. Every couple years there has been a new look. A reinvention. I couldn’t stand my hair to be the same style for too long. I get bored with it after a while. My husband learned this quickly when I chopped off the curls he loved so much the very day we returned from our honeymoon and replaced them with a short-spiky look. I am not sure he knew what he was getting himself into!

My life has often been a reflection of this reinvention. I lived in only two homes during my entire childhood, in the same area my whole young life. As soon as I was on my own, I set out to explore. In the six years between graduation and marriage I lived in six different homes, spent significant time in five different cities and visited my first three countries. Then there was marriage, an international move, a move back home, and all the changes starting a family brings.

Not much has stayed constant in my life. But as much as I like new beginnings, I love stability, too—something I can count on in this wild and ever-changing world. That has always been my family.

Just my parents and an older sister, we have always been a tight-knit little family. I still talk to my mom on the phone nearly every day. On days I don’t, I feel like something is missing. My sister is like the other half of me, this person who completes my story. And my dad—I am so like him and he has shaped so much about the person I have become.

My dad has a pretty unique look. When I’m talking about him to others I say, “You know, he’s the one who looks like Willie Nelson” and a flash or recognition goes through their eyes. The resemblance is so striking he sometimes gets mistaken for the famous singer when we are out together. Almost my entire life he has sported long hair and a full beard, a bandana across his forehead.

Once when we were kids he was under pressure by the management of his company to have a more “professional” look. When he cut his signature ponytail, my sister and I didn’t talk to him for weeks. I know it’s just hair, but I can’t imagine him any other way.

His hair is a reflection of who he is, who my family is. They are my rock when everything else changes, when I change. I will always be anchored to them, will always know who I am in relation to their constant love.

Whenever I feel that call, wherever this restless soul ends up and however I change over the years—there’s a picture that will never change or fade away. It’s the people who, no matter where I go, will always be my home.

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