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.