Two years ago, at this very moment, Justin and I were sitting on the steps to the front deck of our home. We’d spent the last two weeks or so in an insane flurry of activity, choosing which of our belongings would come with us or be let go, making Kippee (though we didn’t know her name yet) into a livable home, preparing to make a monumental shift toward a different life.
We sat on those front steps, bleary-eyed and shaky, waiting for our buyers to come do their final walk-through before the closing paperwork, officially putting the home we’d loved and cherished into their hands and turning toward a life that held only mystery and the unknown for us. Our buyers also bought most of our belongings as they were planning to use our home as a short-term rental property, so there was an added layer of surreal as we left our dishes in their place, our art on the walls, the dining room chairs tucked neatly under the table. And an added layer of loss as well as some of those dishes were chosen carefully and given us as wedding gifts and were used for years to share meals with people we loved. The art we left were photographs I took when we first made Maine our home, printed big on canvas and hung with joy as we settled into the dream of a new life there. The table that the chairs tucked under was one built with our own hands, sanded and stained and pieced together over laughter with our friend, Emy, as she helped us one beautiful summer weekend. They didn’t feel like mere things to be discarded lightly and were as hard to leave behind as the rooms we’d lived and loved in.
It sometimes seems to me that people can be quick to jump to certain assumptions about this life that we lead now. There is the usual “must be nice” comments that I’ve learned to disregard entirely, the ones where it is assumed that we galavant around the country on trust funds and that we haven’t a care or responsibility in the world. Which I hope by now you guys know is totally ludicrous. But there are some assumptions that are made that make a little more sense, tend to be more true of this lifestyle than trust funds (I have literally never met anyone living the nomad life on a trust fund- not a single one) and chief among those is that we simply aren’t “home and hearth” people. Lots of people who choose this kind of life really aren’t, after all.
But we are. We always have been.
We never felt confined by our life in Maine. Never felt burdened by our home or our routines. Never felt suffocated by our community or the responsibilities that came along with it. On the contrary, we loved all of it. We didn’t choose this life to escape any of those things.
We chose it, instead, out of simple curiosity.
We wondered what life would look like in a small space, with fewer belongings. We wondered what it would feel like to live in a few places long enough to get a sense of them, even if they weren’t places we could see ourselves settling long term. We wondered what changes would happen inside us if we got a little more comfortable being uncomfortable, being inconvenienced. And, of course, there were all the places we wanted to experience, and we didn’t want to wait for a “someday” that’s not guaranteed to come.
We have a friend who describes herself as having “wings.” She lives lightly in this world and can fly to wherever her people or her heart call without feeling weighed down by the ties of place. This is a real truth for her and something she considers a gift, for both herself and for the enormous community spread around the world that she flies between. We have other friends who are rooted deeply in the place they call home, investing so much of themselves into creating a space that offers solace and succor to all who come there, digging into their small community in ways that may take decades to bear fruit. For them, their commitment to their small corner of this world is also a tremendous gift, their contribution to this world beginning by first caring deeply for their village and expanding out from there.
We fall somewhere in the middle, carrying both wanderers and homebodies inside us. It’s an odd thing to have both roots and wings. It can be confusing to know which we need at any given time. It can add a layer of discomfort to either choice. But it’s what we are and over these two years, we’ve learned a bit about how to embrace and feed both.
Two years ago today, we chose curiosity. We chose to let go of things we loved and see what would happen. We’ve never regretted the choice, though we have most definitely had moments of acute homesicknessness. We’ve loved this life while also mourning what we left behind and looking forward to whenever we choose to settle in one place again someday.
As it turns out, we can be more than one thing at a time. We can experience joy in the midst of grief. We can be homesick in the midst of wanderlust. We can move between and among our many dimensions without starving any of them out. We can, you guys.
Two years ago, we sat at the cusp of beginning something new and had no idea what this life would look like. Two years into it, I’m not sure I have many more answers than I did back then. I’m still redefining home on a regular basis, still learning to carry home within me. Each new place has been a surprise, and us a surprise in it.
We leave here in 10 days. This time in California has disappeared before my very eyes and I leave here feeling in need of far more time. But leave we will.
We are headed to Alaska. Eventually we will look for a nursing assignment there for Justin, but not until October. We are taking some time to live out a dream of wandering that wild country and learning just a few of its secrets. We are leaving Kippee in the PNW and will camp out of our truck for nearly 8 weeks. We have no itinerary and no plan. We are leaving ourselves wide open in every conceivable way. I’m excited. I’m nervous. My inner free spirit has her hands completely full as she continues to wrestle my inner control-freak to the ground and sit on top of her to keep her from the list-making and planning she’s so desperate for.
As I mentioned in my newsletter on Saturday, I’m not sure what the next two months will look like here on this blog. I chose not to write and schedule things ahead of time because I feel sure that when I get to a place where I can plug in, I will have things to share that I can’t yet conceive of. And I want space for that. I also want space to be fully present with this experience. We want very much to head deep into country that won’t coddle us, where the idea of a cell phone signal is laughable, where there is more than enough room for the wild and the unexpected. And I just don’t know whether I will have something for you each Wednesday by noon. I have a feeling you guys understand that.
So next week will be my last “normal” post for bit. From there, it is certainly possible that I will post the following Wednesday. It is equally possible that I will not. Or that I will post on Friday instead. Or just share some photos. I have no idea. Isn’t that exciting?
It’s been two years today since we embarked on this journey. Some of you have been with me far longer than that and some of you are new here. But whether it’s a matter of selling off a home and treasured belongings to become a nomad, or the more subtle (but just as monumental) process of living and growing in whatever version of daily life you currently embrace, it’s worth a pause now and again to see how far we’ve come, see the ways big and small that we’ve stepped up to our work, to our fear, to our vulnerability, to our power.
Thank you for staying with me. Thank you for your encouragement (I had so many absolutely amazing messages from you guys after Saturday’s newsletter and I can’t tell you how much they mean to me). Thank you for your patience as I become unreliable for a couple of months. Thank you for teaching me and hearing me and just coming along with me as I make my way through this life following my curiosity and trusting that it will all be okay in the long run.
A little Geoff and Justin hilarity...see what too much time in the woods can drive you to?