I’ve had shallow roots for as long as I can remember. Since I was a tiny girl I’ve had the feeling of wanting to leave, though I didn’t yet have the words to describe it. Maybe as an adult I still don’t have the words.
I would ride in the back of the car, driving along the familiar streets of my hometown, and point out different houses to my parents and say, “let’s move there”.
I have always wanted to just…go.
When I was in the fifth grade my grandparents took me camping on the Oregon Coast. We met a couple who lived in a converted school bus and seemed blissfully happy and in love. It was that moment when I realized that what I was craving was a nomadic lifestyle. Since then I have wanted nothing more than to roam in a bus or van with the man I love; a man who loves me back just as much.
Neither of those things has happened for me – the bus or the man. The roaming has happened. I’ve come so far since then, and have spent the last nearly ten years roaming the world alone and living in the back of my Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. It’s not what I imagined as a young girl, but it’s beautiful nonetheless.
I’ve photographed a red carpet fashion show on a ship in Cannes, France and sang karaoke in a smoky bar in Japan with Associated Press reporters. I’ve ran from the cops in Japan and been questioned by the cops in Japan. I’ve sailed the Strait of Gibraltar, something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a child, and I’ve driven solo across the entire United States four times as well as to Alaska and back four times (twice with other people, twice alone).
And I still want more.
For me, travel is an addiction, a drug, a necessity; it’s something I crave, something I must have in order to survive. And just like any junkie, it’s something that I’ve destroyed relationships over and given up good careers for. There have been times when I’ve walked out on everything and everyone just so I could have my next adventure. Being a traveler has forced me to make brutal choices between my wanderlust and my stability and time and again, I’ve chosen my wanderlust.
Sometimes, when I am lost in the wilderness of chaos, I curse my nomadic soul. But only sometimes.
Being a nomad is an unforgiving, soul-consuming way of life that tests the relationships I encounter and the bonds I create. Having that jittery need to escape, to go and see and do and truly live, is oftentimes a burden. The hardest part of traveling for me, is saying goodbye. Yet I’ve chosen to embrace that burden and turn it into something beautiful, whatever that may be. I would rather spend the rest of my life crying as I drive away then never have known the beauty that is out there in the world. And damn, this world is beautiful. It’s worth all the sacrifices I’ve made, and will continue to make.
There's an inspiring book (and movie) called Tracks, written by Robyn Davidson, a woman who walks solo across the Australian Outback with camels. Reading this book recently, I tumbled across the most stunning quote: "It's important that we leave each other and the comfort of it, even though it's hard sometimes, so that we can come back and swap information about what we've learned, even if what we do changes us and we risk not recognizing each other when we return."
My buddy Corbin recently came up with the most perfect phrase for what we gypsy’s feel inside – the Nomadic Nerves. It comes out of nowhere and feels like walking into a brick wall. It’s that urge to leave. My max for staying in one place before I would get ‘that feeling’ used to be three months. Now it’s three to four weeks. Corbin and I send each other text messages so often saying ‘what the fuck is wrong with me?! Why can’t I just stay put?!’.
But we can’t. And we really don’t want to. Because now that we’ve seen the beauty of the world, how could we ever be expected to stay in one place? It’s too gorgeous out there in the wild. We feel too alive out there. And once you know what it’s like to feel alive, you simply can’t go back to feeling any other way.
So get out there and LIVE, because as the saying goes – ‘time and tide wait for no man.’