When I was but a wee lad growing up in the foothills of some shithole in Pennsylvania, I constantly imagined a time when I could leave said shithole and travel. I loved to read about exotic places, in particular, tropical island type places. Anytime we went for a drive someplace, even if it was a short trip for the day, I was ready to go. I loved to watch the scenery go by and on those rare occasions when we went to someplace new, I would just stare and dream and wonder what it was like to be there and not in the shithole. We were surrounded by mountains up there. The roads would wind through the passes and over the hills but at some point we would always stop, turn around, and go back. I remember looking at the road we left and wondering what was beyond the next turn. If we went by an airport I always imagined getting in a plane and flying someplace, anyplace but here. When a train rolled by I imagined sitting in one of the cars watching the country go by as I travelled to someplace else.
Finally, in my mid 20’s, I was able to relieve some of said wanderlust when I packed up and left said shithole for new adventures. I went to Delaware for a few years, and then down to Florida where I have remained to this day. And whilst I did occasionally settle down into a place for a few years, said wanderlust never left. I continued to travel as much as possible. I went all around the state from Key West to the Panhandle. Flew over it, dove under it. When I got into motorcycling, a road trip happened at least once a month if not more. It may have been nothing more than a ride to a biker bar across the state, but it was always the journey which made the day. Yet, I still yearned for more.
I got to make the occasional trip out of state on business. Las Vegas (yuck), New Orleans, Milwaukee. I was even able once in awhile to take a genuine vacation. A trip to Aspen. A ride down the Blue Ridge Parkway. And the ultimate trip to date…Across the U.S. on a motorcycle. 3 weeks, 22 states, 8800 miles. Just me and the Harley. It was a beautiful trip. From spending a couple nights in the penthouse suite of the Hyatt in San Diego, to tent camping at Lake Tahoe, to crossing the Rockies, standing at the spot where George A. Custer got his ass handed to him, to Devil’s Tower (didn’t see any aliens), to Sturgis, to sitting in Lambeau Field watching my beloved Packers play. It was a spectacular trip, but it and all the others had one common flaw. Eventually, I had to come back to wherever home was. No matter how much fun I was having, how tempting it was to keep going, I had obligations and responsibilities to return. A job which paid the bills. A house with a mortgage. Cats to care for. I always had to come back. Until now.
For the first time in my life, I have nothing to keep me in any one place. No job, no mortgage nor lease, no contracts, no nothing. I actually have the ability, limited only by my finances, to get up in the morning, grab my backpack, and go wherever I chose. It can be a spur of the moment decision, or something planned in advance. If I like were I’m going, I can stay as long as I wish. If not, I can leave.
I leave nothing behind which needs tending too. Most anything I need to do over the course of the year can be taken care of online. The internet has made what I want to do possible in many ways. The few bills I now have can all be paid online. I can keep in touch with relatives no matter where I go, as long as I have a signal. If necessary, I can make travel plans ahead of time, book flights, bus fares, train tickets. I can find temporary accommodations easily. And, on those rare occasions, still bring in an income.
As for possessions? Well, I’ve finally reached minimalist maximus. Everything I need, a few bits of clothes, my laptop, the iPhone, and some minor bits of this and that will now all fit in a nice comfy backpack which I can carry anywhere I go. The contents can vary depending on the circumstances. If I’m in colder climates, which I guarantee will not be for very long, I can carry clothes that are warmer. But mostly it will be what I wear now, fishin’ shirts, and cargo shorts. A pair of good walking shoes, and boat shoes for casual use. But it won’t be much. Should I go and do some hiking and camping, I’ll add in a tent, sleeping bag, etc. If I settle into a spot for a few weeks or months, I can pick up other things as needed. Cooking and eating stuff, consumables, things of such nature are inexpensive and disposable when I am ready to move on.
In fact everything, with the possible exception of the computer and iPhone can be replaced easily and within a day. Said computer and iPhone may take a bit longer. Nothing I own will require a license, repairs, maintenance, nor parts. I won’t have to worry about taking care of anything. No mowing lawns, scraping boat bottoms, nor even cleaning house. Just the occasional trip to the laundromat, and a shower now and then will suffice.
Imagine, being at a point in your life where you can do all this. Having the complete freedom to decide where you want to go and what you want to do? It took me 60 long years to get here and I’m still trying to process it all. I will need to change my mindset to get away from the idea I need to have a permanent home. I don’t. And it’s a good feeling. Yes, there will be times where I may wish I could just go home. A mythical spot where I can walk inside, shut the rest of the world away, and be secure in my own little kingdom. But for now, I don’t need it. For me, owning or renting a long term home was never about security. Wherever I lived was nothing more than a place to sleep and keep my stuff. It was always a burden. Something that gave me a false sense of comfort but in reality kept me from living. Now said burden is gone. And I can go and relieve the wanderlust I have had since I was but a wee lad.
“A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving” – Lao Tzu