It struck me the other day (mired deep in an existential funk, sulking about mortality and life choices) as I packed my duffle bags for yet another relocation, that being homeless by choice rather than by circumstance is actually a bit of a luxury. Especially in the pandemic era we are living through with its treacherous twists and turns where a person can get locked out of their own country overnight.
My romantic notion of tripping around the world living a somewhat gypsy lifestyle and changing direction has for the most part been a success, and despite my general grumblings (plus a strong measure of unappreciated privilege) is well worth the minor inconvenience of being a permanent couch surfer of sorts. I’m kinda into it to be honest – the constant motion and change is becoming comforting and just ‘normal’ now.
At the moment, I’m living in New Zealand – finally escaping the red dust and relentless heat of Australia longer term – and treading water once again as I wait to hear about the possibilities of another season in Antarctica or the extension of a NZ contract past Christmas while I settle into a new house with new people and a dog. For how long? No idea whatsoever and as usual even that depends on many many factors.
It’s an interesting experiment in returning to ‘normal’ life anyway. Wow. Normal life is so … mundane.
Also it’s Christmas. Yay. Not.
We put up a Christmas tree last night and at first I rolled my eyes and dreaded it, but eventually chilled the fuck out and saw the fun again.
Silver linings though – I’m not living in a box under a bridge somewhere ( although I actually prepared for ‘camping life’ here for at least a little while). I’ve certainly met some incredibly generous and kind people over the years that have allowed me to indulge this nomadic lifestyle by renting me a room or letting me housesit for them while they are deployed. Super lucky. So nothing to bitch about eh? Surely theres something.
My feet are itchy and its only been a few months. That old chestnut. International travel is still denied to me (mostly) so here I am in Covid- free Christchurch (at least until the Aucklanders arrive for Christmas). The only International travel ahead is back to sweaty Australia for a little while in 2022.
Where would I rather be? Sweet Jesus, ANYWHERE out there will do!
My go to escape hatches of Chiang Mai, Istanbul, Tunis or Seattle would be my preferred staging points for further exploration ( I feel either a top to bottom African wander or a massive US road trip coming on) but I know that ain’t gonna happen at least for another year.
The uncertainty of all this used to stress me out. Will I ever have a home again? Settle down? (Heck even I cant live with me sometimes, how could anyone else!) It’s less important now. I’ve had a few shots at it over my life (blew it). Will it happen again? Who knows and to be honest I’m caring less about that while fighting the urge to start accumuling modern necessities (car, bike, scooter?) Being compulsively vagrant and happily alone is invigorating at times.
Happily might be stretching it, but you get the idea. I’m not losing sleep over it and my mind is much less restless these days ( generally)
Thst said, not being able to meticulously plan things from Plan A thru Z in this Covid pandemic is also incredibly frustrating but to be honest, liberating as well. Happily, going with the flow seems to be getting easier and caring less is becoming relaxing. Life experience most certainly has greased the wheels of change in that respect.
Career wise I’m definitely in a downward spiral though – getting locked into such a niche market (Antarctic Tech is a little bit niche I guess?) at my age is troubling and given that passing the Medical each year is less of a ‘given’ and more of a lottery, at some stage my luck will run out. It does force you to at least try to lead a healthy lifestyle to keep the body functional and the mind clear. The skills can be topped up for sure, usually with short contract to update and absorb new tech, but I’ve definitely hit the other side of the curve. There’s always a whisper of a chance for permanency or at least a contract somewhere that keeps me moving, current and alive thank goodness.
The grand plan of buying a home has changed somewhat and I’ll just work this angle as long as I can and save all my biscuits – ultimately the cookie jar will go to my daughter to make her life better (see thats how rationalisation works, folks). Part time contracts and the downward spiral picking up speed.
Meh. Thats ok, I can live with a 4 day weekend any day as it allows me to thoroughly indulge my coffee shop addiction and mindless blogging obsession.
Family wise it’s definitely a killer: once you break from that daily close contact lifestyle you become more of a high concept to your family than an actual person. Take my now 17 year old daughter for example – in the almost three years since we’ve seen each other in person she has since become an adult. Got a part time job, in her final year at High School and looking at University soon. I’m my mind it feels like months rather than years. In her mind I’m a memory and the odd instant message. Their reality barrels along in the fast lane, and you get stuck at the lights. Life moves on and you only exist as an iMessage, Zoom call or Facebook like to the ones you hold dear. Sometimes this stings but mostly you get used to it because you have to or break apart (am I dead inside? probably).
Yes theres an ancient history buried deep at the root of all this – one day we’ll get into it. One day.
It’s Monday 13th December and I’m two Americanos in and due for an optometrists appointment at 11am (gotta get GODDAMNED READING GLASSES). The joys of getting older.
Random rant over.