Before my plane finally landed in Los Angeles, it had been nine months since I saw many of my friends and family; or slept in my own bed; or got to eat ah-maaazing peanut butter; or got to choose from different clothes that weren’t from a suitcase; or got to truly communicate my thoughts and feelings without them being relentlessly wrung through different language and cultural filters.
I even joked to some friends that I’d actually been pregnant the entire time. (I wasn’t.) To me, the nine months whizzed by like a Tokyo bullet train. It wasn’t just fast; it blurred. Apparently, some friends and family felt the same way, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
While I’m glad to be back in California now (except for the traffic. Fuck the traffic), the days and weeks leading up to my return left me feeling…anxious and a little reluctant to be going back. Or rather, I was afraid to come home to America. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out what it was, and now, I’ve only just begun to understand how that fear festered.
Realizing that I was returning to my home base, I was just afraid of settling into normalcy, I think. To me, it would’ve signaled the demise of my “nomading”, when in actuality, I could still pick up and go. I mean, I still want to. No, wait, I plan to.
Will I be able to do it forever? Probably not.
But the way I see it, now’s the time to be taking advantage of this lifestyle while my parents are still independent and I don’t have any other roots.
People always tell me “I’m living the life,” and I can’t lie: without a doubt, I am. After all, I was able to spend a long time in many of the countries I’d always dreamed of visiting since I was a kid. I got on Japanese national television. I watched jiggly man breasts collide with glorious machismo at a sumo wrestling match. I grew closer to my niece and other extended family, all of whom I wouldn’t have been able to see if it weren’t for my newfound freedom.
I’m not done either. I’m back briefly to recoup and re-strategize a bit before I head out on my “next adventure”–wherever that may take me.
Sadly, that’s the sort of stuff people only want to hear about. The good stuff. The stuff of motivational posters and Tony Robbins speeches. I’ve come to find that no one necessarily wants to peek behind the Instagram photos and Facebook updates, or hear about the sacrifices that were (and constantly have to be) made. I no longer encourage people to try to do this themselves. It’s not for everyone because there are definitely ups and downs to organizing your life around temporary housing, flights, and proximity to Wi-Fi.
Plus, other than a fair number of treasured memories with friends, family, and acquaintances, I spent most of the time by myself. Nomad life is lonely. Sure, sometimes you meet people and bond over mutual traveling circumstances, but still…it’s isolating and alienating. And unpredictable. And filled with uncertainty.
Back in sunny California, home is bittersweet. It’s predictable and comforting, like slipping your feet into your favorite fuzzy slippers after a long day.
Yet the judgments inevitably come. The questions. The envy. The jealousy. I see and deal with them frequently. I fear them. What do I say to “I’m so jealous!”? How can I relate again without coming off as an uber-pretentious millenial d-bag? I don’t have the answers right now.
I will say that being in different countries where nobody cared or knew exactly who I was liberated me from the existential panty-twists of Who am I? What’s my purpose? Is this really what I want? What do people think of me?
It’s almost been a whole year since doing this whole nomad thing, and so far, it’s done me a lot of good (with sacrifices). So, one thing’s for sure: No one can say I never got anywhere.