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NOMADS and LOCAL NATIVES

September 15, 2012

I’m not anywhere close to being a nomad. I have an address. I own part of a house. I have a professional job. Oh, and bills-I have lots of bills. These things give me an established identity in one town. Do you feel like that? Not stuck really, but for sure planted? Trying to grow the good that surrounds you, but at the same time, believing and knowing that this isn’t the end of your story. That you’re suppose to be somewhere else, doing something else, being with someone else.

There is part of me that would love to roam around without an address, and to embrace that with boundless fear, but to be honest, I’d eventually surrender. I think a lot of my friends would too. Maybe it’s my southern roots, but I need to stay put somewhere, at least for part of the time. I also have to work on my relationships and I suck at that when I’m bouncing all around, unless they happen to be doing it right by my side. So instead, I work on being a local native. How long does it take to establish yourself as one? I’ve been living in the same town for nine years, and the same state for almost 15, but I’m pretty sure I’ll always be considered a transplant. Alaska is full of them and what is cool about that is that you basically meet two types of people:

1. Those that want to travel

2.  Full Bred Alaskans

Many locals of Alaska that I have met are just like those of the south-they don’t travel much either. I have one friend that was born and raised here and she is hungry for travel, but for the most part, they like to stay put. They choose to fish, to hunt, to explore right here, and here only. And they are fierce about it. Then there are people like me who try to be more like them. But….

On being a nomad. I feel like there is this very small section of my soul that is dying to be moving all around, all of the time. It gets fed every now and then via some real travel, but for the most part, I’m forcing it to live through all of my reading and wondering, sometimes on the couch, and sometimes in the woods. Sometimes via a breathtaking movie, and sometimes through a hot and sweaty concert. Sometimes with a random boy. There are moments that it’s so full just by taking a ski because afterwards, I always feel like I’ve left my familiar world by expanding on my limitations. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that it can be easily satisfied, but then it just eats at me again, the very next day. It’s like sex in that way, whether you have a small encounter or one that blows your mind, the satisfaction is only temporary because the craving continues immediately after. As Vonnegut would say, and so it goes…..

I know, staying put is very American; I think I read somewhere that less than 5% of the American population owns a current passport and we are one of the few nationalities that has the opportunity to visit almost any country that we wish. It seems like for one reason or another, people are making do by staying put. And in part, so am I, but I still can’t help feel like I’m missing out at times.

To help calm those cravings, I try to remember what it’s like to hang out with some nomads. How does that work for you? For me, it goes something like this:

“I’m traveling indefinitely.”

“I’m traveling until the money runs out.”

“I’m not sure where I’m going next. I might try to find a job.”

They all seem to have that urgent need to keep moving, to keep looking. My jealousy decides to exist; however, it doesn’t last that long because while I want to hear their stories, they don’t. stop. talking. It becomes about them talking to talk about all of the stuff they’ve done rather than about sharing its beauty. And while they are trying to express that beauty, they are still in that world of needing validation. For a lot of them, it isn’t about the attention necessarily, but on some level, they need people to recognize what they’re going through, because in the end, who they meet on the road is their current family. A moment for them where they end being a nomad, and settle for being a local native. Sometimes, I’ve gotten stuck in conversations with them about the conversations they had with family on the phone. Brutal. Painful. Sad. Other times, they are skyping with a family member and it is like they have discovered gold. Killing time, some of them successfully, but I can’t help but wonder if they are really just lost people being lost in a cooler way. Maybe they don’t know how to find it, like the rest of us, but they are just seeking in a different way. Regardless, whether I’m around them for a 15 minute conversation or a day long adventure, I cease to want to be one of them. The nomad of my soul is cured. For a moment at least.

Then, you have the nomad couples variety and that seems to be getting more popular these days. Are they cheating? They usually appear to be very solid in their couplehood, and have a mutual agreement that this life dedicated to moving is what they are all about. I can hear the vows now, something about never giving up on the road. On the other hand, many of them have stopped, lived in one place for 2-3 months, and have then moved on. So, in a sense, they still have a home when the need for domesticity strikes them.

I wonder if every nomad that actually found true love would stop being one. Or, if they would choose the couplehood category so that they could have a love sidekick as an added bonus. Once the search for love is over, some argue that so much of your soul ends its restlessness. I don’t know if I buy that though; I know a lot of people in love and some of them are the most restless I know. Maybe it just isn’t the right kind of love. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, “The purpose of your life is to love.” It’s funny how so many of us don’t really know what that means. Not really. I think we spend most of our lives trying to understand that one sentence, and then the rest of it trying to do it right.

What I’m trying to say is that one day, I’ll figure out how to be a free bird contributor, how to cook both parts of my soul. I’ll buy that hostel or I’ll go working for that non-profit somewhere far away. Until then, I’m going to stick to feeding each personality the best I can. And each crave of that nomad within me.

I’ll be here, working towards earning the title of local native. In the end, that just might make me the most satisfied nomad ever.

From → Travel

22 Comments
  1. Mama permalink

    Once in a while over the years I’ve thought about how cool it would be to just get in the car and start driving, leave all my responsibilities behind, answer only to what I want to do when I want to do it. We only have one life. Why do I have to spend so much of it anchored to the life I have made? Then again, why does it always feel so good to come home after I’ve been away? Interesting.

  2. Reblogged this on ExploreDreamDiscover Talks and commented:
    Thoughts from a not Alaskan Alaskan…good read.

  3. 1. I am sure your local native status will be long lived with all the lives you have touched. 2. Not sure if it was supposed to be funny but ” I can hear the vows now, something about never giving up on the road” made me laugh out loud. Cheers!

  4. Interesting indeed. Even more interesting are your stats about american passports? Well, on this side of planet Earth, that is exactly our perception of Americans, i.e. not interacting that much with the rest of us…

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      Hi, yes, thanks! And when we do travel, we aren’t always very good at it :), but I suppose that is true for many cultures. Cheers!

  5. itraveltoeatvy permalink

    I love this entry… I have been a “nomad” for awhile now. Like you, I think I’ll work on being a “local East Coast” resident first…

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      Great, thanks! I wish you the best with that goal and I look forward to checking out some of your entries. Do you have any experience with Brooklyn?

  6. I have been a nomad for the last 11 years. With an address, a job and bills.
    And I like it.
    🙂

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      That is good news, good news! I’m glad you’ve found the balance!

  7. My roots are planted, but I LOVE to travel and we go the mountains quite often! I don’t think being a nomad ever really appealed to me even though I am an adventure seeker. I think that when I was single I never really had the money!
    Thanks for coming to the Wild Ride to party down!
    I hope you click on a few links and tell them Susie sent you! They’ll click back and check out your place!
    Have fun and don’t forget to dance!

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      Thanks Susie, I will! I look forward to meeting more great bloggers out there!

  8. Another travel-lover-with-roots here, here via virtual travel from Susie’s party. If you do choose to wander for awhile, I bet you will have fun. It’s an interesting time in the world to be footloose. So much going on, and so much connection.

    Funny statistics about Americans with no passports! I had no idea. Who is reflected in your sunglasses?

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      Thanks, I look forward to reading your blog too! Susie’s idea is awesome. That reflection is of Citizen Cope at an outdoor show I went to up here in Anchorage. Cheers and I wish you the best of travels in 2013! I’m headed out now, but will for sure be doing more reading tomorrow.

  9. Hi Laura! Susie sent me over, and I’m glad our family is in the minority of passport holders. We got bit by the traveling bug a while ago, and have been to several countries since then. It’s such a rich, rewarding thing to travel, and we always come home tired, but so very glad we got to learn something new about a different way of life. Worth every penny spent, if you ask me! Keep up the great work!

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      Thanks Deanne, and glad you stopped by! I was an English teacher for years so I’ll enjoy your blog.

  10. Susie sent me. Nice touch of humor. Enjoyed it.

  11. What a great topic! I too am a transplant and soon will have lived in Colorado longer than Wisconsin. Is that the tipping point? Ironically, my husband Danny noticed that I include the words “Colorado transplant” on a lot of my accounts and he said to delete them since I’ve been here for almost 26 years!
    This for bringing the link to the party!

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      Thanks Susie-I’m loving the sharing party-woohoo! I think you can delete that too, but I do like thinking about all of the influence that place has on us. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Hi Laura, Susie sent me. You live in God’s country. Many years ago I stopped over in Alaska. It was 40 below but not unpleasant. Here’s the thing, way back in the 1600’s we were isolated. We stayed out of European conflicts. It was not that we didn’t care but we had this place that had oceans on two sides and reasonable allies on our borders. We were happy. War came and we had to get involved. Men came back and the insular mindset was gone. There was an old song “How Are You Going To Keep Them Down On The Farm After They’ve Seen Paree.” They couldn’t. We had an entire continent to explore now we were going to check out the rest of the world. My family couldn’t afford Europe but post war beat a path from Connecticut to Florida every year. With me, it backlashed. I like where I live and feel safe and comfortable here, Will follow.

    • Laura Hilger permalink

      Glad you stopped by, and that we are connecting via Susie! I can tell that your writing is going slap me across the face so I too will keep an eye out! Cheers!

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