There is something I’ve become pretty good at over the last year that I would’ve never really expected, being a sick kid and all, and that thing is adaptability. Since giving up my apartment last March, I haven’t had a real home that I consider all mine since. All mine: that’s a phrase we humans love. I have jumped from house to house, state to state, with a small bulky suitcase and a bag full of pills for a solid year now. I’ve turned into a professional couch crasher. I have found that I encounter home in many places. That studio apartment that was all mine was just one of them. I remember cramming the last of my remaining boxes into my corolla and turning in my key to the landlord last year. It was a terribly sad day. Currently I’m writing from Tampa, Florida, nearly a year since that day, and I am suddenly feeling the freedom of not owning anything anymore. For so long I was trying desperately to keep everything I had, like a squirrel stumbling around hanging on to too many acorns, because they were all small symbols to me that my life was together and I was together and I could do it on my own. But finally letting those attachments go (and accepting what was true) has opened up a new freedom. Basically everything I need I can fit into this green bag I bought a couple of years ago. Except Monty of course, he doesn’t fit. But he made the 10 hour drive to Tampa, and is an incredible teacher of what it means to be adaptable. See?
I don’t know how long I will be here or where I will go next. At some point I plan to go to Colorado and stay with my grandma for a while. And at another point I’ll make it to New York because my brother and sister-in-law will be having their baby in a few weeks. I don’t have a distinct plan. Which is very much my style because about 95% of the plans I make do I ever follow through with anyway. So in this new style of life, I just sort of go where the wind takes me, and on my own terms. I am lucky to have such loving and welcoming people in my life who have all said in their own way “Sure, I have a couch you can sleep on.” Of course they don’t mean permanently and I never intend to stay forever, but there is sort of an unspoken agreement between me and my hosts: Stay until it’s time to go. Last year I spent two months in New York at Nick and Estee’s. (The soon to be parents) Then I spent a month in California at my sister and brother-in-laws house. Then a little time in Miami for Nick and Estee’s wedding. Then it was back to my parents house, and floating around on couches in New Orleans, recovering, writing, and living a non-traditional nomadic life. I have finally grown accustomed to living unplanned, undecided, and out of a suitcase.
I still look forward to the day when things are settled down, when I finally have a home base, and when I can answer this question a little more easily: “And so what do you do, Mary?” I love that question. And by love I mean despise. How does someone like me begin to even remotely answer that question? Usually I say “Oh, I live with my parents and yell at the TV when they watch Bill O’Reilly. Sometimes I take showers. What do you do?” I think now I have a better answer. I’m a nomad. But instead of wondering in fields, I crash on couches. At this point, it actually does feel like my vocation. Like I’ve been called to wonder around the world for a while, and figure out how to live well even though I’m not. It’s certainly been a learning experience, but I know I still have a long way to go. Like my mom always says, Just do today. Today I’m in Tampa, it is sunny and warm and Monty is fetching sticks in the bay. Somehow after the journey here, I still haven’t crashed. I woke up with a pretty killer migraine this morning but the medicine took care of it and I don’t have that typical Feel-like-I’ve-Been-Hit-By-A-Truck-In-the-Face feeling. So I am grateful for that, and trying not to harp on it for long. Sometimes I fear if I think too much about it the good feeling will go. So I’m not questioning it, I am just grateful.
I think more than any physical place, my notebooks have been my home. Writing often reveals to me what is true and real before my own mind can recognize it in the world. I know that writing is a way for me to find truth and tell the truth. It might be why I get anxiety just before I sit down to write, but after I finish, I feel better. Lighter. And if I’ve written correctly, I always walk away with more clarity, more light in the room than before. So I won’t concern myself too much with what house I call mine for now. Maybe home is more an internal thing than anything else. For the time being, home is on paper, and deep within.
Health, Happiness and Nomadic Tendencies.