*Warning: salty language ahead.
Do the difficult life lessons ever stop coming?
I used to imagine, when I was young and sparkly-eyed, how wonderful adulthood would be. I would dream for hours about how much sense life would make; how I would wander the world and write and have an extraordinary man by my side and never worry about money. I just knew that life would be filled with laughter and smiles and love. I was under the impression that life gets easier the older we get.
Now that I’m an adult, I call bullshit.
For me, and for a large portion of the people I know, it’s very much bullshit. A brown, smiley-faced emoji. I don’t have life any more figured out now than I did when I was 14. I actually feel more confused about it all now. And I’m definitely more stressed now because my mailbox is full of unmarked white envelopes that contain slips of paper with large numbers typed into little boxes in the upper right-hand corner. What’s that all about? (Sorry for all that expensive shit I wanted as a teenager, Mom. I understand now…)
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely had an extraordinary life. I’ve roamed the world, I’ve written about it, sometimes I’ve even been paid for writing about it, and I’ve definitely had some amazing men by my side. There have been countless smiles and so much laughter and love so beautiful it hurt.
But there has also been crushing disappointment, hollow loneliness, and miserable heartache. Because for me, nothing ever seems to last long, whether it’s a home, a job, or a relationship. I never imagined during my childhood fantasies that my life would be so chaotic and painful.
Maybe it’s my mom’s fault.
She always made me feel like I was capable of anything; she made me believe that my wildest dreams were not wild at all, but completely obtainable. She supported and encouraged my dreamy Pisces nature. She told me that I didn’t have to be like everyone else. So maybe it’s her fault that I’m homeless at 38, change jobs as often as most people change their underwear, and have been in love more times than I’ve filed taxes.
My mom never told me that life is fucking hard.
At the risk of sounding like a classic vagabond…I had a conversation the other day in the park with another homeless friend. As we sat under a tree while the rain poured down around us, we questioned aloud why we’re this way. Why can’t we stay put? Why can’t we be satisfied with a “normal” life, with one place, one job, one partner? What are we constantly seeking, and will we ever find it? And then my friend asked if I felt addicted to the chaos that our nomadic lifestyle brings.
Fuck yes, I do.
It is undoubtedly an addiction. I crave change. I thrive on the act of leaving. And I’m so accustomed to being alone, that I don’t know how to be with someone else for a decent length of time. I’m so used to being on my own that perhaps I subconsciously sabotage partnerships because any form of stability scares the hell out of me.
But the thing about me—the thing I accepted a long time ago, is that I will always be addicted to the chaos. And I will always feel like the largest blessing in my life is having a mother who told me (and continues to tell me) that I can be anything I want to be when I grow up.
Life is this amazingly beautiful thing that can be so hideously ugly sometimes.
That conversation in the park also contained a lot of reiteration that we wouldn’t trade it, change it, or give it up for anything. Even when things are scary hard, and they are often scary hard when you’re a nomad. At any moment I could decide to stay somewhere and have some unfulfilling career and find a dude to have a bland marriage with. But I’ve done that; I had exactly that, and I walked away from it (more like ran. All the way to Japan).
And I’ve never once looked back.
Because that person—she didn’t feel anything except loneliness. Now, in addition to the loneliness, I also feel hope and excitement and fear and pain and love and every other extreme emotion. I will live in my car, and I will secretly cry every time I say goodbye and I will continue to bond instantly with strangers and make lifelong friends and hand my heart willingly to anyone I feel deserves it (though I have absolutely terrible judgment in guys) because the biggest lesson my life has taught me is that it can be gone before you’re ready, and when my number is called, I want to cash in on memories and experiences instead of signing over stocks and bonds to my cat. Meow.