The revival of nomads in the first world in the 21st-century speaks to three of humanities greatest yearnings:
. . .try to provide something new, especially in how a place Is experienced. Sometimes, I've seen nature unabashedly thriving and recolonizing in spaces humans once held but abandoned. Other times, there are lands that humans have collaborated to revive at great cost and the effects are mind-blowing.
The recent disappearances that have irrevocably altered my own ecosystem perhaps helps me recognize a fellow survivor. It's revitalizing to encounter a natural space rebounding where time has been allowed to work its deep magic. I will also explore Why. This. Should. Matter.
The paradox of my own plans will not go unexplored either: how my vehicle will be fossil-fueled but my lifestyle seeks a more environmentally friendly existence, not less. What self-commands will I put in place to live more contentedly and use less finite resources? What are others doing that I cannot or refuse to do? There is no tough problem - personal or public - I intend to ignore. All within the lens of celebration for the rebirth of a lifestyle that is similar but different - neo-nomads of the twenty-first century, stepping back in order to move forward.
I'm also made of poetry and other things, so the content in this site will reflect those things as well.
. . .Rehash what others are already doing very well. I've no inclination to add one more how-to blog or provide another travel guidebook on van life, per se. Anything you want to know about how to flesh out a minimalist or neo-nomad lifestyle for yourself can be found elsewhere by technical experts. Also, there's no need to get to places just to say I've been. Others have been doing that and take much better pictures to boot. I have a few favorites that I'll link to on the LINKS page.
Thanks SO much to Greg Olin, neo-nomad caretaker at Earth, for the use of his campfire image, which to me is SO full of wonderful mystery, movement, and true-true.
Bless you then, and come, you who may. . .
Come, let us build the ship of the future
In an ancient pattern that journeys far.
Come, let us set sail for the always island
Through seas of leaving to the summer stars.
The Circle is Unbroken by the Incredible String Band, 1968
Seven years ago from this writing in 2019, I was happily married, pursuing my undergraduate in literature and history, and preparing myself for a life of creative writing. A long-time dream was coming true. Empty-nested, except for the cat and the dog and the other assorted wildlife we joyfully hosted in our yards, we were both pursuing our passions but storms were about to unleash our lives.
In March I turned fifty-five. A week after, and two days before my mother died, we received the news that my husband’s shelf life was coming due. Knowing gave us some time, and every second was needed, but it was still not enough, never enough, to say everything that needed saying or to feel everything that needed feeling. He passed in October. Two months later and a week before Christmas, my sister passed. Three major deaths in nine months left me an automaton and, being an only child myself and husband too, in our family I remained the last matriarch standing.
2012 was a bellwether of change for us.
Every decision after felt like mistakes in one way or another. I sold the house. It wasn't much ours anyway as we'd spent the equity on the post-secondary launch of our children. I continued with full-time classes until the all-important degree was in hand in 2015 (magna cum laude). Living under the only economic system I knew, I thought that graduate school was no longer reasonable and, more importantly, the time I needed to creatively write was a luxury I could no longer afford. A roof was reasonable, as was the electrical grid, outsourced indoor plumbing, bookshelves, and a porch. Knowing no other options, I reentered the workforce kicking and screaming, but grateful. Others had it much worse than me, still I was hardly comfortable.
Yet, the situation was right for its context. Looking back with future eyes, how could I have truly created anything when I wasn't truly living? No, that's not true. I created during this time. Much of it was even good, but there was something missing and I knew I didn't know what it was. It was like living in two different worlds simultaneously - market and making. The market world, by its very nature so certain of itself, demanded the most energy and time. Whatever bandwidth and energy was left over for art, which by its very nature threatens the security of certainty, was difficult though I kept plugging away.
In 2016, coming nicely out of the initial mess grief and loss naturally make and feeling like things were picking up, I suffered an occupational injury that broke one ankle and severely sprained the other one. Struggling to literally get on my feet yet again, a sea of troubles descended and, unlike Hamlet, I could never consider taking arms against them. I was a widow of no means, weak arms, and coming fast upon my sixth decade. One cannot fight prevailing institutions and mindsets. My only choice seemed to be to accept the status quo and keep on keeping on falling into depression: “to sleep, perchance to dream.” I couldn't help but ask how much longer.
In the middle of all that crutching around, the universe placed another surprise in my lap - a welcome one this time.
The ankle injuries limited my mobility but expanded my free time for over a year (read: I was bored out of my head). One day, a coworker mentioned that her book club was reading Jessica Bruder’s Nomadland and soon I was too. I latched on to her interviews with Bob Wells and started on Wells' old-timey but highly effective cheaprvliving.com. Bruder caught my attention; Wells glued it.
I had always thought of myself as a creative but, these folks were the true creatives. They showed me how I had not been playing with all the materials, not by half.
Seemingly suddenly and forgetting quickly the How. Much. Longer. of only the last few month, I had my entire life to redirect and create. With a little planning and saving and a little more time in the system keeping me and lots of others down, I could soon afford the time needed to apply for scholarships and graduate programs. On daily bases, not just in the off-hours as energy allows, I could soon be creatively writing as much as I want and need. Best of all, life on the road is full of caravans - people of like mind roaming together close to nature and putting conventional market wisdom on its head.
It is an entry point to another world of worlds.
Circa 1960, the interstates were new and so was I. My first car was gold, like my beloved SUV today, and frankly had a more satisfying horn. I loved this first car and was happy with it, despite appearances.
Back in those days, photographs took a bit more effort than they do today. Preparation was necessary so as not to waste precious rolls of film. The filming itself was on a schedule determined by the mother and known only to her. Thankfully it was an unusual event because picture-taking took me out of rich, focused playtimes. Plus, mother involved me in her entire boring blah-blah decision-making process. Props had to be set up in front of the chosen background, and then I had to be set up in the props as she wanted me, facing front, always facing front. These things took time, lots and lots of time, and the little box I was told to face into was hardly a warm and interesting substitute for my solitary play. In such circumstances, smiling was not something my face would do no matter how much mother pleaded.
Interestingly, this same expression comes naturally to me today when listening to my bosses pontificate, which, as one knows, they do often. I have learned, however, to smile.
Planet Earth; Fort Collins, Colorado