Welcome to the second installment of our series! Nasimeh Bahrayni shares her experiences and perspective about living nomadically. She pulls back the curtain a bit on the reality of living that way, exposing the restlessness and the occasional longing for a regular life.
So I'm sitting in my room in Asheville, North Carolina – my room. My room. One I pay rent on and actually have say in and accountability for – and it strikes me that this is the first place I've put money into, that I've actually been able to say is thoroughly mine, in over three years. This is the first place I've “settled” intentionally, even briefly, even though it's a sublease, since 2010. This is the first home I've chosen, completely of my own accord and not due to circumstance or just where the road put me (well – arguably) in three entire sun revolutions.
To some, that may seem insane or beyond comprehension; to me, it's just what it is … and, well, slightly terrifying.
Gypsy, nomad, traveller – I've been called them all. It's hard to say what propelled me onto the road in the first place, beyond what propels so many of us to do drastic things: boredom and a need for change. I was working in a dead-end job in a dead-end town a year post-collegiate, and I was horribly, insanely, ridiculously unfulfilled. I needed something new and different, whatever it was, and so, in that marvelous way that the world does things, one moment led to another moment led to another, and before long, I was planning a cross-country farm-hopping extravaganza with a young woman in similar shoes.
What followed was nothing short of miraculous – though it's only in hindsight that I can truly see that. From farm to farm we went, riding the wind, learning a bit, loving, living. Cross-country we drove, then hopped about in California, Oregon, then I, solo, in Washington. Summer became fall became winter. I sold my car at the last farm and flew home, only to fly back out to plant fruit trees all over California on a bus alongside a crew of other road warriors. Through that adventure, I met the members of another traveling sustainability troupe, somewhat more circusy, who I hopped in with and wound up working alongside for eight months, in Oakland, and then on a nationwide tour. Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas – back home to Florida, then back out; back to the tree planters, for another tour of schools and community centers. Then 10 days of silence in Vipassana, then farms and travel in Hawaii, then vending at California festivals, then suddenly, Nevada City, California, where somehow, I wound up spending half a year.
Yet, despite the fact that throughout these adventures I would be in one place for some months at a time, I never felt I was settled. For I was always temporary; I always lived out of the pack on my back (and the things I acquired along the way), and I always posted up wherever worked out, or I could work trade. I would live in one spot for a month or more, then transition to the next – and on, and on, and on. I'll be the first to admit that that lifestyle, at least for me, is exhausting – but I must also say just how interesting and full it is. Without any anchors, floating completely, you can definitely feel lost, but you also see vast terrains and landscapes in ways you may not otherwise. You come to truly appreciate the “mundane” aspects of being settled – I used to daydream about just having a job, any job, so I could bike to work and complain about how stupid customers were. Or decorating my own place...! The notion practically made me salivate.
And even still, even with the fact that I am paying rent, digging into a community, job hunting... I still can't shake that feeling that I am nonetheless temporary. That I could just get up and go any moment, if the whim struck me. That I am not fully settled. Whether that's fear talking or the “itchy feet” my friend insists all us travelers have, I'm not sure. It's there regardless, and the best I can do, thus far, is just smile at it and continue along my way.
I wouldn't try and make a case for the traveling lifestyle, 'cuz I don't think it's for everybody. I do think, however, that if you've ever had the inkling, the thought, the slight daydream about traveling without a real destination, just wherever life takes you and places you, and seeing what that's like – that you should do it. It's mad, it's wild, and it's absolutely amazing. You'll see places and meet people you surely wouldn't otherwise; you'll go on a ride unlike any other. And years from now, no matter how insane it is, no matter how uncertain, no matter how uncomfortable and weird – I'm positive you'll be glad you did it. I sure as hell am glad I did, and I'm not but a few months out yet.
So what's the resolution? What's the outcome? I'm not sure, really. I'm still figuring that out. The lessons I've learned through my travels have been numerous and invaluable, and they're still continuing. The biggest one, I guess, is just about enjoying the journey. 'Cuz when you don't have a destination, then how can you do anything but?
See you on the open road, my friends.
Thank you Nasimeh for giving us a glimpse into the life of a nomad. As your life adventure continues, perhaps you'll be inspired to visit again soon.
In the coming weeks, I'll be posting some interviews with people who are creating community!