Sunday, November 20, 2016
Although the freelance gig meant a grinding commute through Southern California traffic, and although the company I was working for was an organizational mess and the project boring, it paid ridiculously well. I made the equivalent of a year's salary in two months. I could afford to take off.
So I paid two month's rent and utilities in advance and hit the road with a pile of clothes and a crate of CDs. Twenty-seven days and two speeding tickets later I had driven from California to Maine and back, corner to corner across the United States (and a little slice of Canada), wandering through the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the South. I wanted to see what my options were. What was out there? Could I be happy in, say, Iowa or Pennsylvania or Mississippi? Did some place speak to me?
I didn't get the answers I was seeking. But I learned I liked life on the road. A lot. When retirement came around it didn't take long to remember May of 1995 and to know my golden years would be spent wandering around.
The big breakthrough, though, was realizing I wouldn't need a home base, that I'd be happier without one. Not keeping a house or apartment meant more money for travel and less to worry about "back home."
In Up In the Air, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) returned to his condo after a long period on the road. It felt alien to him. It wasn't his natural environment. It wasn't home. I understood.
I don't know if I could ever feel at home again in a building. My van is my home.