Last Night as a Nomad

After one month of travel involving seven states/territories, six flights, four time zones, and only one lost pair of headphones, I am back in Madison. I am still a homeless person, though, until tomorrow morning when I get my keys and meet the movers. Then, the new school year will be that much closer to beginning. For tonight, though, I’m in the luxury of the Hampton Inn. Free wifi, fluffy beds, and a bathtub = heaven.

My dad was well enough today for a trip to DC, so since I was flying out of Reagan (a first for me!) we packed up mid-afternoon so all four of us (mom, dad, sister, and me) could have dinner together. It also happens to be my parents’ wedding anniversary, so that was something fun to celebrate. We had Greek food at Zorba’s in Dupont Circle, after which Dad and I found two geocaches, one real and one virtual, and both within spitting distance of my sister’s apartment. I then said goodbye to my sister, and headed to the airport with my parents. Even though I will be seeing them in about three weeks, it was still weird to say goodbye; this past month has seemed like a bunch of giant goodbyes. I almost missed my flight because I was charging my daughter (iPhone) at the next gate over, but according to my seatmate, they only made one or two boarding announcements. They really didn’t give us a whole lot of warning; the girl in front of me in line had gone to the bathroom and returned only to find that her entire family had boarded without her and now they were doing the final call, which is the one I heard.

The flight was about an hour and forty-five minutes, although it seemed like no time at all. I walked down to baggage claim with my seatmate, a woman called Kristen who was in town for business. Even though we were far from the last ones off the plane, for the first time, our bags beat us out to the baggage claim. One taxi ride later, I was at the hotel, and of course one of the two desk attendants is a friend of mine, and the other is one who actually just moved out of the building I’m moving into, and lived only one floor below me. She seemed positive about the building, and from what I gathered she was leaving because she was in a one-bedroom with a roommate.

Overall, it’s been a fun month, with some ups and downs but mostly ups. I got to experience life as a true nomad for a month, sleeping on planes, couches, floors, and in my own bed. I experienced the hospitality of three friends and got to see their homes for the first time.

Positives of living the nomad life:

  • Always experiencing new things. Everywhere I went, I managed to see or do something new, even in Baltimore. I spent very little of the past month bored, and subsequently, very little time thinking about myself. It was fast-paced and exciting. I can find something fun almost everywhere, from the airport in Charlotte to a sleepy beach town in Puerto Rico.
  • Freedom of movement. There’s just something about being able to pack yourself up into a backpack, a suitcase or two, and just jet.
  • Freedom from possessions. Even this morning, it didn’t take that long to gather my things together, including those items I had accumulated on the trip (a fan from Puerto Rico, a journal from Arizona, school books from home) and overall, it was nice not to be burdened with so much stuff. If it couldn’t fit into my bag, it didn’t come with me; I threw out a lot of junk I would have normally kept. Cue tomorrow, when I open my suitcase and ask myself, “what is all this crap?” Still, it kept me from accumulating too many unnecessary things and buying souvenirs for myself or for friends.

Negatives of living the nomad life:

  • Always on the go. My first few weeks were so action-packed that I barely had time to breathe, or reflect. Even though my Arizona roomie Kathleen admired my ability to reflect on the moment, I couldn’t really settle too long in any one place until I got back to my parents’ house. It was good to be forced to be forward-thinking, but it was tiring.
  • That feeling of homelessness. Along with the excitement come the questions. Where is home? I’ll be somewhere else a week from now, where will I be a year from now? What should I be doing now to prepare for then?
  • I missed my stuff. I’ll be the first to admit my materialistic instincts. I missed my own familiar bed, my car (although my wheels in Puerto Rico and essentially having my dad’s car for the week because he couldn’t drive were huge perks), my clothes, my book collection, having a place where I could receive mail, and even eating the foods I’ve become accustomed to. I also gained a greater appreciation for privacy as well as how to be a better roommate/house guest, and got some good decorating ideas. Most of all, I got the urge to be a good host so I can return the favor or pay it forward.

With only one more night of unharnessed luxury, I might as well live it up: a hot bath and then to bed. Oh, and bienvenidos to my newest visitor from Guatemala.

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