It’s getting colder, and our thoughts turn from where to travel next to where we’d like to live. As we run through the possibilities and all of the pros and cons, I’m getting a much better sense of my priorities. Between that, and the thoughts that come as we approach a transition in our life on the road, the lessons are coming hard and fast. Here’s my latest installment of lessons learned.
1. I do not want to live in a home that is part of a Homeowner’s Association. In certain areas, this eliminates large portions of housing. So be it. I don’t want anyone telling me I must have a two car garage, can’t hang my laundry out, can’t paint my house pink and purple, can’t have chickens or bees or goats or llamas or pet tigers (ok, maybe it’s ok if they tell me I can’t have a pet tiger). Nor do I want my neighbors to be so constrained. I understand that this opens me up to more “risk” of my neighbors opening a junkyard next door. Oh well. Homeowner’s Associations are great for some people, just not me. I’m glad I’m fully aware of this before buying a house in an HOA.
2. It is easy to travel far and wide and still only associate with a certain type of people, eat in certain types of restaurants, and stay in certain types of places. I think it is more important to travel half an hour away to a place with people very unlike you and your cohorts than to travel halfway around the world to associate with similar types in a slightly different cultural context. Some of the worldliest people never hop onto a plane, but instead fully immerse themselves in all the worlds around them. After traveling to so many places but never staying in one place for very long on this journey, I’m looking forward to getting to know a new place in depth. And not just the parts of that place that immediately appeal to me, but all the parts I may first overlook or turn away from.
3. Fall feels like home. Fall is my favorite season. Fall is Alan’s favorite season. What is the one season we missed this year? Fall. In order to attempt to outrun cold nights in the tent, we missed this most magical and cozy of seasons. I hope that this is the very last fall we ever miss. I’m not sure winter will feel the same without having been welcomed by the golden hues and smokey, sweet, crisp air of autumn.
4. When the choice is more land or more house, I will (almost) always choose more land. I don’t need a big house, but I want to be able to see lots of green from my window. I also don’t need a lot of land, but nine times out of ten, more land will satisfy me better than more house. For me, a house is really just a place to take a break from the sun, the wind, the rain, and the snow. Oh, and a place to curl up in front of a fire with a good book. Can’t forget that!
5. You can’t have it all. Certainly not at once. This is fine, but it’s a myth that gets perpetuated for young people, especially young women. When we finally realize that we can’t have it all (if we ever believed that to begin with), the truth can sting a bit. I already knew this, but when you begin to prioritize all your goals, it crystallizes this truth in a new way.
6. Having a place that feels like home is almost as important as having a place to call home. I’ve had many places to call home in my life, but only some of them actually felt like home. I spent the past two years in a very nice town home in the suburbs. It was clean, safe, and nice, but it never actually felt like home. I realize that I put off so many things that I would have done had the place felt like home. I never felt invested in the place, and in turn, it only served as a place to live and not a true home. Besides becoming invested in any place I live in the future, I’d also like to prioritize finding a place that feels like home.
7. It’s hard to go wrong with green chile sauce in New Mexico. Not much I can add to this, except for the fact that I am loving New Mexico, its people, and its delicious (and inexpensive) food.
8. I scare a lot less quickly than I did eight short months ago. There are so many ways I could illustrate this, but I’ll stick with one. Coyotes. I like coyotes. They’ve never scared me and I’ve found their cries hauntingly beautiful. But that didn’t stop me from scrambling out of my tent in Kentucky when they were making a kill very near by. At that point, we still had our van, which is where the three of us spent the rest of that night. Fast forward about seven months, and we’ve heard numerous coyotes, but none as close or as constant as when we were camping in Tucson Mountain Park. There were dozens in the area around us, some near by, some far. But even when they were howling mere feet from our tent (and even when our semi-crazy camping neighbor joined in with the coyote howls), I felt warm and secure in our tent and enjoyed the evening serenades. I’ve come a long way, baby!