Anyone who grew up a nomad, or that has decided to become one, perhaps knows two truths to the life of travel:
- You are always homeless, and yet never.
- Your heart is always broken.
Let me explain, respectively:
- We grew up on the move. We would settle somewhere, for a year or two, maybe 4 (max) but even within these time frames we would relocate; a different apartment, a new school, a neighborhood on the other side of the city. When I say on the move, I mean to say that we were quite… scattered. A couple years in Taiwan, a few years in Guam, several stints on and off in Chicago, California? Israel? England? Sure, why not, let’s give it a go. I remember moving days–the big trucks, the maze of boxes, the strange men heaving out our furniture–as if they were an annual celebration. Is it someone’s birthday? A 4th of July? No, no, it’s just this year’s moving day!And so the homes we had, rather, that we temporary resided in, were never really ours. Sure we painted the walls, hung up our artwork, left our marks in the wood, but sooner, as opposed to later, someone would inevitably be painting over our past, our memories. The houses that I am fond of, that I consider a valuable part of my upbringing, which I remember with a pinprick of nostalgia in the center of my rib cage–one set of grandparents’ house, the other set’s apartment, a family friend’s ever growing split level–are no longer accessible for one reason or another. I had a childhood without a home, but at the same time, I had many.Similarly, when I decided to travel on my own after high school, taking odd jobs, nanny work, and unpaid jaunts in conservation across three continents; the closest thing I had to a “home” was my 76-litre hiker’s backpack (I’ve now named George). In Costa Rica, local families invited me into their homes as I worked with the villagers in sea turtle conservation – I now have a Latina mother. In London, I was a nanny, and (I feel) somewhat surrogate daughter, to a lovely single mother of three. In North Carolina, fellow marine biologists put me up, dealt with my exploding backpack, and my lack of scientific training, only to sink me further into the world of ocean conservation. All around the globe people have opened their doors to me with kindness, with warmth, with appreciation for the work that I do, and the bizarre life I have decided to lead. I am homeless, and yet again, I never am.
- As for the brokenheartedness of a nomad, this is related to Truth No. 1, in a way. That old cliche “home is where the heart is” is, annoyingly, quite true. And when you are a traveler, your heart is everywhere. It’s in the black sandy beaches of Costa Rica, in the jagged skyline of Chicago, on the giant slices of New York City pizza, or its racing down the trails of Yosemite National Park. My heart is in the snowy hills of Denmark and the mountaintops of Eastern Peru, it’s sitting with a nesting sea turtle in St. Croix, and crashing down a water slide in Guam. My heart is sharing a cold water with the homeless men I met in Tampa, it’s talking Spanish with the enthusiastic cabbie I met in Nicaragua, and flirting with the too-kind bartenders I met in Turkey, it is everywhere. And it’s with the people I love, too, the people that I miss daily: my grandparents up in Illinois, my mother and father and brothers in Israel, my brother in Germany, and the friends that are like family… the old neighbors who moved to California, the Brazilian sister living in my birth town up in Mass, my fellow sea turtle enthusiasts spread out around the world, my best friends from middle school, from college, and the other wandering souls that I see as a mirror of myself. Everywhere there are people that I love–where my heart longs to be– that can never all be together. As a nomad, as an addict to travel, to adventure, to new cultures, and foods, and languages, and challenges, and collecting passport stamps, you always want to go back, and yet you always want more. As a wanderer, you travel with a heart in a constant state of broken… Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds, you get used to this, and somehow, it’s all worth it.
In a month from now, I will be taking the majority of my belongings (they’ll fit in just 1 duffel and a backpack this time!) as I commit myself to a life on the go, once again. On July 1st, I will be on my way to the Philippines as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Coastal Resource Management- a dream job! I’ll be living on one of the 7,000+ islands that make up the Philippines, helping a community or organization work on sustainable ways to utilize marine resources, or something in that ballpark! In the meantime, I will be working away on a vessel as a marine endangered species observer in Florida, before embarking on a 6 week journey visiting family and friends, stopping in London, Israel, Germany, New York City, and Chicago. I decided now was as good a time as any to start a travel blog!
There are a lot of mixed feelings before you join the Peace Corps (a 27-month commitment volunteering abroad in a potentially very remote location)! Excitement is definitely a top contender, although I think anticipation is a close second. There are so many unknowns about serving… where will I live? where will I work? will I be eating rice 3 times a day? will there be internet? has my passport even been processed? SO many unknowns! And there isn’t really much you can do but research the process, old positions, and be open-minded about what may come. So there is a lot of excitement, a little anticipation, and then of course, some sadness in having to say goodbye to the people that I love for quite a long while.
And that’s where things stand! I’m 2.5 months until service and 1 month until I depart Florida (permanently!) and my whole life gets tip-turned upside-down! I am thrilled to be sharing this journey with whoever reads this… and promise that each entry won’t end on such a sad note! There will be stories of travel, culture, nature, food, family, and of course, my adventures as a Peace Corps volunteer. Thank you for reading 😀