Since I haven’t had a home of my own for three years, I have adapted to this nomadic lifestyle. Whether it’s in a hotel room, AirBnB, or one of my host’s homes, I can “feel at home” rather quickly. It’s been essential, really. Otherwise, I would always feel out of sorts, like I didn’t belong anywhere.
When I return to previous housesits, it particularly feels like coming home. Things are familiar. I know where I’m sleeping. I know my way around the kitchen. I know the little quirks to work the front lock or hot water faucet, and I know my way around the neighborhood (i. e., the closes Starbucks, bus routes, best grocery store, etc).
On July 18, I arrived back in London after ten months in the USA, the longest I’ve been away from England since before August 2015. This time, I’m only staying for just under two months, the shortest since I started this nomadic lifestyle. Reasons forthcoming.
England has had a special place in my heart for 35 years, ever since I was 13. It’s especially familiar now, after spending 15 of the last 36 months in the UK, so it doesn’t feel like a foreign country anymore. It helped me survive a major life change. I feel as comfortable here as I do in my native country, perhaps even more. I have felt for quite some time that I belong here. England feels like home.
The city of my soul.
The center of the universe.
That said…things feel somewhat different this time. Surreal. Like I’ve stepped into an alternate reality, awakened from a beautiful dream where I met and fell in love with an amazing man, but now I’m alone once again. Traveling. Surviving. Forever stepping forward just to make it through another day.
…but it wasn’t a dream. It’s real. He’s real. We’re real, and it’s all so truly magnificent.
Near as I can tell, the surreal nature of my perception was a mixture of jet lag and trying to reconcile how drastically (& wonderfully) my life has changed since the last time I was here (March-September 2017). A cognitive dissonance of sorts.
It’s not currently, nor ever has been, realistic to move to London, unless I become a computer programmer or nurse or develop the ability to fill another under-represented need in the UK. My skills just aren’t in high demand, sadly.
Still, I have been spending 5-6 months a year here since 2015, and I had planned to continue that trend, visiting the EU, Ireland, and other places to fill the spaces between my 6-month UK visa limitations.
I had considered buying a home in Portland, which is the only place I can tolerate in the USA (except maybe NYC), but I still planned travel 3 – 9 months a year. Although, I realized that I’m not ready to buy a house. In fact, when I left for the UK this year, I wasn’t planning on returning for at least two years (until Trump was gone!).
This year I’m only staying in the UK for 6 weeks, with a quick 3-day jaunt in Iceland on my way back to Portland, where I’ll be for an indefinite time. I’ll still be traveling abroad 3 – 6 months a year, but in shorter stints than my accustomed ~8 months.
As previously mentioned, I can feel at “home” quickly in most places, and I’ve enjoyed life as a “Location Independent” Digital Nomad. Still there isn’t anywhere that *is* home.
All that changed last month. Brian had invited me to stay with him in between my last petsitting gig in Portland and the one in London. I had been set to rent an AirBnB or something because I wanted the extra month to invest in this wonderful relationship before heading abroad, so I was thrilled when he asked me to stay. Although I knew it was temporary, I was touched by the invitation and excited at another step towards one another.
“It will be a good test,” he said when he asked me, and I agreed. I was a little nervous starting, as I didn’t want to be in the way. I haven’t lived with someone (even temporarily) for many years. Not even with friends for more than a few nights, so this was kinda new all over again. Plus, it felt as if so much was riding on how things went…
Long story short, it was wonderful. It didn’t just feel like home. It was home, albeit temporary. I was part of a family again: me, my love, and his three cats. I helped out around the house, cared for the cats, worked from home, learned my way around the neighborhood, and enjoyed evenings out (or in) with my beloved.
I have a great life in Portland with Brian, along with a nice French language group, dance classes, and several friends. Never in my life have I not wanted to be in London before now! Whereas traveling has been a way to survive difficult times, now my life is much fuller. I’m not cutting back on traveling as much as I’m making room and time for these new, wonderful things that fill my days with joy and purpose.
Of course, the home was temporary, and I’m in London once again. I feel like I’ve been missing out on so much with him back in Portland over the past two weeks, but he’ll be here next week on holiday with me for 10 days. As he said, I should be there or he should be here. Wherever we are, we should be together.
Together is home. That’s where I truly belong.
It reminds me of that Billy Joel song “You’re My Home.”
“Home is just another word for you.”
So true, my love.
Even before meeting this remarkable person, I had carved out a nice life for myself as a digital nomad, and I often remind myself of what I’ve survived, what I’ve built, and the dark pit of trauma and despair from which I clawed.
I did all that on my own.
….so, if things turn on a dime, as they sometimes do, I will survive that, too. It’s a huge fear of mine, which is understandable considering the events of the previous seven years. I would be utterly devastated and heartbroken, but I would be devastated and heartbroken on the next plane to Europe. I would once again cry walking the cobblestone streets of England, until the tears dried up. I would once again heal.
In the meantime, I will enjoy every moment with this magnificent man and keep my heart open to the possibilities of our future together.