Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sixty-Nine Days

In case you missed it, starting in September, I plan to stop working (eek!), store my belongings in a shed, and travel around the country for (at least) three months, searching for a new place to call home. For years I have wanted to move. For various reasons, including failed attempts at love, trying to save money for moving costs, and not knowing where to go, I remained in DC. But I no longer wish to have my life - my career, my love life (or lack there of), my place in the world - on hold because 'I want to go,' and so my solution is to vagabond.

The loose plan is the drive around the country, the first six weeks for mostly joy and then with purpose: When I find a city that I feel I might be keen on, I'll spend a few days in the city applying for jobs and checking out more of the sites and city vibes. I will live mostly out of a tent and sometimes sleep in the trunk of my little hatchback in Wal-Mart parking lots that allow overnight parking for RVs (there's an app for that...seriously) - couch surfing when the opportunity presents. I will attempt to live as cheaply as possible, subsisting mostly eggs and noodles and the kindness of strangers, as even homelessness proves to be expensive.

I was chatting about my plan with a friend at a wedding a few weeks back. While we waited for the ceremony to start, she tried to reason with my stubborn heels to start a gofundme, softening my I-am-an-island sense of conviction with: "We spend over a decade of our lives celebrating other people's life choices with weddings and babies and all those things, but how often do we celebrate a person choosing to chase their dream?" 

I paused to think. I mean, she had a point. And I'm in no position to turn down help. However, weeks later, despite her words and my blurb written and ready to post, I'm still trying to convince myself it's okay to press that "submit" button and ask for help with something I'm choosing to do...Or is it a choice?

This past Sunday, I called my step-father (of 29 years) to wish him a happy father's day. Surprisingly, both my parents are incredibly supportive. My mother, only worried for my safety and my step-father - I found out on Sunday - the same. He said he wanted to talk to me about my plan and I wondered aloud if he was going to try to talk me out of it: "I'm scared enough as it is," I said. 

 "Certainly not," he responded, after reminding me that the front lines of war taught him that being scared is pointless, then continued, "I hitchhiked around the country when I got back from Vietnam for three months. I felt it was something I just felt I had to do. If this is something you feel you have to do, I support that. I just want you to be safe."

::brake noises:: 


After we hung up, I began to wonder, was he right? Was I like him in that this is something I feel I have to do verses simply a choice? The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. 

Ever since high school, I have dreamed of being a vagabond. While I realize this certainly isn't a dream for everyone, there was a bit of wanderlust that always existed. I ignored it in order to go to school and get a job like I thought I was 'supposed to do,' with plans to marry at 25 like I thought I was also 'supposed to do'. Then, at 25, I left my boyfriend of five years. But after graduating with two degrees and a Scrooge McDuck pile of debt, I thought it impossible to become a vagabond and still be able to meet my financial obligations (even after working for eight years). At 28, I began to develop a desire to leave DC: DC is nice and it was fun, but it's not full of what I would call 'my people' - whoever they are. Attempts to fall in love and save money in order to move (ironically), repeatedly thwarted my attempts to move, followed by an inability to figure out where should be my new home. And thus, came my solution to vagabond to find a home and fulfill a decade old dream.

I realize, however, that this is going to be difficult. I am equal parts scared and excited. Some days more scared than excited. And I realize that to some people, this may come off to some as "incredibly stupid" or "financially irresponsible," but I have tried to plan as best I can, and save as much as possible, and hope everything works out, and tell myself this is an okay thing to do at 31, because, while society urges this is the age to get married and pop out babies, I think that no matter what else happens in life, that it is important we find our happiness - whatever that means. Because happiness is contagious; no (wo)man is an island. And sometimes in life you have to do certain 'stupid', scary, faith-driven things so you don't ever have to say 'I wish I would have.' 

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