On the Brighter Side, We’re Going Nomadic!
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard the old adage:
The grass is always greener (on the other side of the fence).
I’m guilty of feeling unsatisfied with my lot in life, wishing I was somewhere else, out having the kind of fun I imagine everyone else is having. I should be more grateful, I know. I wish I was stronger, but I get in these sour moods that are especially unfair to my boyfriend, who does everything in his power to make me comfortable and happy. If he knew where to pick up better attitudes he would’ve brought one home for me a long time ago. A couple cocktails can usually do the trick to lighten my mood, but a spilled drink can unnerve me even if there’s still a half empty (see what I just did there?) bottle of booze in the kitchen.
I haven’t always felt this way and logically I know I don’t have a foundation to stand on when it comes to defending my sorry ass. I have an awesome job, a long and interesting resume full of friendships, my boyfriend is incredibly supportive, creative and dependable, my family has always been, and always will be, there for me, I have a ton of friends that continue to inspire and encourage me, and even though I live paycheck to paycheck I can still afford luxury items like my $70 dollar titanium Noveske BattleSpork.
My boyfriend and I get out for mini-adventures as often as we can, usually on the weekends. But honestly, being a weekend warrior doesn’t feel like enough, and should it? Shouldn’t life be a full-time adventure? We spend 1/3 of our lives working; shouldn’t that kind of time be spent doing something we’re passionate about? I have an interesting job, but it doesn’t feel meaningful and life changing to me. I’ve been in the natural resources arena since I was 18 and I got my first water job. For half of my life I’ve gotten paid to traipse through muskegs, over mountains and down logging roads in search of running water, fish and sunlight. I love the kind of work I do, although this last year has been mostly spent in an office. And, some days, I wish I was an organic berry farmer. The grass is always greener, right? ;) I have a good life and yet I struggle to have a sunshiny outlook…especially this time of year when the weather starts getting grayer and temperatures start dropping.
Winter sucks. My fingers and toes become little phalanges of ice and as much pleasure as it gives me, putting them on my boyfriend doesn’t help. When the sharp and brittle winds that frighten birds to warmer climates rattle my windows, I’m liable to be found hiding under the covers with my cat, cursing the entire outside world.
And for some inexplicable reason I keep moving to cold climates. What is wrong with me? The good news is I may finally be growing wiser, realizing I’m not actually married to the choices that got me here. Just because I moved out here to eastern Oregon for a job that I wanted and that has been really good to me, doesn’t mean I have to stay. My boyfriend and I have been here for a year and half, my boss is our favorite person to drink beers with, and he’s awesome, the Wallowa Mountains are only an hour away and their beauty and ruggedness blows my mind.
And my soul is screaming at me to follow the birds, chase the sun and escape the daily grind.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao-tzu
I can leave if I’m not happy, right? I keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter if I can afford to leave or if I have another job waiting for me. For the first time in my life, I’m focusing on where I want to be and starting there, trusting that things always work out, because eventually they do. My goal is to create a life I don’t need a vacation from. To live part-time in Alaska and spend the winters somewhere warm. Mexico? Hawaii?
While my path is usually characterized by emotion, you could say my boyfriend follows one of pragmatism. When I started complaining about the colder weather, he shrugged his shoulders and just as casually as if he was suggesting we walk down the street for happy hour, he said
“If you want to live somewhere warm, let’s go somewhere warm”.
I wish it was that simple! For him it is, so I’m practicing this theory with him. I like to think we balance each other and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him by my side.
So, we bought a van, we’re whittling down our possessions and planning a five month road trip from Mexico to Alaska! Compared to our comfortable two bedroom house it looks like one of those old tin bread boxes that my mom used to keep on our kitchen counter. Before long it will be my home, a comfortable and tiny living space.
Our new obsession is a 1988 Ford Econoline with less than 50k original miles on it. The City of Caldwell, Idaho was the one and only owner until a few days ago. The city logo is still on both the front doors. It’s a picture of a pioneer family holding a cornucopia and the words “More to Offer”. Seriously, does it get any better than that? Our autumn gift of escape! We’re thinking about naming the van Coach, short for Stage Coach. Although not pulled by horses or mules, it will be our rustic home on wheels as we embrace simplicity and embark on a new stage of our lives.
Sometimes it feels like I’m running away. I catch myself thinking everything will be better once we’re on the asphalt trail to Mexico in our version of a covered wagon. I won’t have six rooms to sweep anymore or a lawn that needs watered (fucking green grass!) or loads of bills to pay (um, thank god right? because I won’t have an income either!). The list goes on. I compare the life I’m living to the life I’m fantasizing about. But I’m careful to remind myself that no matter how far I go doubt and worry can hitch a ride.
Will we rule at van life or will the van rule us? What if it becomes a money pit and we can’t get where we want to go? What if I have to call my mom for help, drenched to the bone, stranded on the side of a road, no warmer or happier than I was when I left? What if it’s all a failure and I look like a fool to all my friends and family? It terrifies me but so does living a life that doesn’t satisfy me or spark my spirit.
We have two months to prepare, hopefully hitting the road with the New Year. I’m working on saving money, Cota’s working on converting the van and we need to train our cat to be an adventure kitty. Sophie is a three year old Siamese mix, a huntress and an avid sleeper. I think she’s adaptable. We’re planning on spending Thanksgiving with my family on the other side, the green side (see that?) of Oregon, and using the trip as an opportunity to test little Sophie’s trust in us. If she has half as much faith in us as I do in Cota, we’re all in good hands. xo
You are leaving the shore of safety. You were perfectly okay, in a way; only one thing was missing – adventure. Going into the unknown gives you a thrill. The heart starts pulsating again; again you are alive, fully alive…For the first time you start feeling that life is not just a boredom but an adventure. Then slowly fears disappear; then you are always seeking and searching for some adventure.
And this is the reason. This is why I’m eager to leave the security of my job and see where the road takes me, because adventure breathes life into my soul. I’ve realized I want a nomadic lifestyle enough to push through the fear and have faith that the rewards will outweigh the risks.