Last fall a childhood friend called me a nomad, and I retorted, “No I am not, I just like to travel. That’s not me.”
It bothered me to be labeled a nomad. I consider myself a rooted individual not a wanderer. I live in New York City and own a home in Chicago. I hop from my parents’ house in the Chicagoland suburbs to various dwellings across the globe. I may possess more travel size toiletries than the average person but my bags are not always packed. If I needed to get on a plane or train in a hurry, I could be out the door in 15 minutes, sweating en route, but looking pretty darn fabulous on the other end. That’s normal right?
The idea of a being a nomad rolled around in my head for months.
Am I someone who wanders?
Is it negative?
Why do I care?
This was part of a larger question for me. Was this the life I wanted to be living? Was this where I wanted to be in 20 years? The answer: No.
I worked in government/politics for 18 years. I am proud of my successes and my accomplishments. It was never dull and changed every day. It fostered my caffeinated spirit and my thirst for knowledge. The job changed every cycle. I moved from city to city, from apartment to apartment. I thrived on learning every aspect of a campaign and working with smart, driven people. It was fun. I traveled. I met some of my closest friends. I worked non-stop and when the job ended, I took a hiatus to travel, but then a cycle started again. The players changed but the game remained the same.
After the 2016 election, I booked a flight to Germany to experience the Christmas markets. I drank Glühwein (mulled), visited with family and friends and walked every corner of the selected markets, but for the first time in my travels something had changed. I was not present. I took photos. I smiled. I talked to locals. I shopped for clothes. I existed in Germany in body and spirit but my mind careened off course.
I tried again in Australia, my safe place and home away from home. The coastal walks taunted me and the heat drained my energy. There were days when I sat watching Netflix Hallmark movies rather than meeting new people. Upset with myself, I resolved to find “fun.” I shopped (thank you Lorne Jane), devoured oysters, prawns on the barbie and fish and chips, and drank every glass of wine presented to me. Did I mention eat and drink? I paid homage to the Sydney Bridge daily and I slowly started admitting that I needed to make a change in life.
When I returned to New York City after the New Year, I threw myself into work and politics but I ached for something different, a part of me dying. I lacked the desire, drive and ambition to be the “old” me. The fire in my belly dissipated. I ignored my intuition at my mental and physical expense to make my clients happy. That is until February when a writing course in Montana shook me awake.
In a little place called Whitefish, Montana, my love for travel returned. My smile shined, the locals were kind and forgiving and I questioned everyone who would listen. The snow drifted from the sky in big chunks and I opened my mouth to capture a taste. I spun around in dizzy circles like a figure skater on ice. I conquered snowshoeing for the first time and laughed myself silly as I stomped along the trail like the Abominable Snowman. A childlike state came over me. The wheels were turning and I was thinking, thinking, thinking.
I attended Haven’s Writing Retreat with nine dynamic women eager to tell a story. The pages turned for some but mine were blank. I fought anger, sadness and nothingness. I didn’t belong there and I wanted to go home. Where was home? I didn’t know anymore. At times, my voice and my pen took me to the Sydney Bridge, my happy place or chasing the past with friends but most of the time it landed on unexplored destinations where daydreams become reality.
One night, I stepped outside into Montana’s “Big Sky” blanketed with twinkling stars. I stared at the infinite darkness–alone. The air was cold and fresh, the silence calming. I stood entranced. Sadness existed deep inside me.
That night I wrote. The words flowed from my pen to the notebook like water released from a dam. My mind raced with thoughts about my job, dating life, my parents, brother, a friend. I wrote for eight hours and when my arm cramped and I pushed away the tears, I fell asleep. I awoke a new person.
“I am done with politics,” I thought. “This is going to be complicated.”
And it was in the quiet moment of a late February morning that I embraced the true definition of a nomad. I enjoy roaming from place to place aimlessly. It’s my passion to discover new people and places. I study travel guide books for fun and attend travel shows to meet the experts I aspire to be. My path is not the path of my friends and family or even my colleagues but it fosters my creativity, my passion and my desire to be out there in the world.
The decision to leave my business and livelihood is not easy and I entertained many flattering offers before cutting the cord. It’s hard to say goodbye and lots of people tried to convince me I was crazy. People whom I adore and respect. It’s scary to jump off the edge of the cliff not knowing what’s below. My prior attempts at leaving left me dangling for years in no mans land but this time I chose to listen to my gut and leap with my heart. My mind is still processing.
I hope you will join me on my nomadic journey.
My future posts promise to be funny and entertaining and will delve into travel, soul searching, job exploration, rants and for my parents’ sake maybe even love.