Getting Emotionally Ready for our Nomadic Life


As our countdown continues for our nomadic life next September 2021, and we carry forward with our plans to dispose of our stuff, we have begun to notice our emotions go from glee to frustration, happiness to anger. We are certainly on a roller coaster that is exasperated by COVID, the presidential election, and life in general.

Getting emotionally ready for our nomadic life hasn’t been easy.

While my husband continues working and I continue to blog and hike, our dinner conversation balances between What-if Plans and One-Day-at-a-Time Plans. Here’s what I mean.

Exactly Where Are We Going? Honestly, We Don’t Know.

When we originally planned this adventure, the world liked nomadic travelers and offered up the ability to flit about from country to country. Logistics were easy and fairly inexpensive with lots of options. We originally planned to fly to Costa Rica, spend 3-4 months flirting with Central America while the weather remains fairly cool, then heading to South America for its summer.

Certainly, COVID might change these plans. Whereas there is hope that Costa Rica might open up to American residents of certain states, it’s still an unknown and difficult to plan around.

The emotional toll of these unknowns generates much conversation between Steve and me. Those conversations look more like a computer algorithm than life:

If Costa Rica doesn’t open, should we go to Belize instead?
If Belize is open but nothing else is, where would we go afterward?
Since both are unknowns, should we just go to a known, like Barbados, which is open?
But do we want to be stuck in Barbados?
Would staying in Barbados for six months be a true nomadic life?
Would Barbados be better than staying in the US?
If we stay in the US and drive everywhere, how long will we do that?
And what happens to health insurance if we stay in the US?
It depends on who wins the election….

And so the conversation goes.

Ultimately, we always end up just pausing and waiting. As of now, we still have some time before we need to make some decisions. Those decisions revolve around housing.

Housesitting as a Solution

We really want to begin our trip and maintain our trip as housesitters, and we cull Trusted Housesitters daily. Right now, there are lots of housesits around the world, especially in the UK and Australia, but the problem is that we can’t get there, and therefore, we can’t commit. Since we can’t commit due to immigration issues, we can’t make plans.

So, we end up back at square one, waiting. At some point though, we’ll need to start actually booking things. We’ll get serious, I suspect, around the first of the year.

Parts of Us Disappear

In the meantime, the emotional good-byes we’ve had to process in relation to our stuff has begun. The first hard good-bye came when our kids visited us and took all of our pretty things. My first tear shed when I packed my favorite painting, which is rooted to stories of my first big environmental fight and win, into the backseat of my step-son’s car. I was glad to see it go–and it’s a gift to him, I have no expectations I’ll ever see that painting again–but I felt a part of me disappearing. If I don’t keep that painting, where’s the evidence I fought that environmental battle and won?

I’ll have to rely on my memory, and not the visual reminder, to recall those good moments in my life.

Nonetheless, I feel like a piece of me just, poof, disappeared.

Today I put a pair of John Fluevog shoes for sale on eBay. Whereas we are trying to not one-off the sale of our more valuable things in order to keep them as enticers for our estate sale, I know these shoes won’t bring what they’re worth at the estate sale. I imagine they’d be clumped into the “shoes for $5” pile, and they are certainly worth more than that.

As I watch the bids on eBay, I am watching a piece of a professional wardrobe slip away. I don’t have many pieces of this wardrobe left–I haven’t worn a pair of heels and a suit for years–but this wardrobe and its shoes represent a very successful career that I loved and left voluntarily to get me to where I am now. It’s not how much it was worth monetarily, it’s the emotional attachment to a career and an image that I mourn.

Rites of passage feel like hard left turns.

Family Skeletons and Heirloom Gifts

As I shipped my great grandma’s rocker to my family, other great grandma items got critiqued as well. Many heirlooms went to my sister, a few to my daughter, and some will go into the estate sale. But one selection, in particular, I don’t know what to do with. It’s a ceramic piece of Black Americana, which in today’s perspective, would be seen as very racist.

What is my responsibility to this piece? Should I pass it to a family member, sell it, or destroy it? I’m not sure why my Grandma had it (was it a gift to her?), and I don’t remember her and I ever discussing it. It’s also an Occupied Japan piece, as well.

I don’t feel right selling it. I don’t want to pass on racism. Yet, I don’t want to destroy it because of the memories attached to it. I’ve actually written the ethicist columnist at the New York Times for an opinion. What would you do?

Does throwing out a racist heirloom correct anything? If my great granddaughter were to find it in the future, what would she think?

Reckoning weighs heavy.

Pull Off the Band-aid

As we have mentioned our plans with friends and family, so many of them have stated that they could never get rid of their stuff. They are too emotionally attached to it.

I understand.

But after all, we can’t take it with us. The only difference between now and later is that we’re alive and our kids aren’t dealing with all of our stuff when we’re dead.

I keep telling myself that this is a blessing.

And then I go eat some chocolate. Wonder when Costa Rica is going to open. And concentrate on today.

How’s your nomadic plan shaping up? Share with me

~Chris

2 Comments

  1. Gail

    Hi Chris, I’ll be really interested to hear what the NYTimes ethicist says. As a non emotionally involved bystander I would vote for either donation to one of the black history (or other) museums that might display it in an appropriately interpreted setting, or have a ceremonial destruction of it.

    Reply
    • EatWalkLearn

      Thank you for your thoughts The NYT ethicist hasn’t gotten back to me yet, and I still have hope my question will be featured in the NYT Magazine. In the meantime, I did decide to donate it to a Black ephemeral museum, The Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State. They were very happy to receive it.

      Reply

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Chris Englert, the Walking Traveler, has visited over 60 countries and all 50 states. Usually traveling with her husband, yet sometimes by herself as a solo traveler, she uncovers neighborhood walks, urban hikes, and vegan/vegetarian eats that other guide books miss.

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