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Life as a Flea

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FRANCE | Monday, 11 May 2015 | Views [276]

“Home is where the heart is.” But what if your heart is divided up geographically, like a detailed map of all the places you’ve been? What if you’ve left pieces of your heart on dirt roads on continents oceans from your birthplace?  What if your heartbeat changes rhythm to match an ever-changing environment as easily as a stream speeds up as it approaches the ocean? When you’re a nomad, “home” isn’t singular. I’m sure many of my fellow bloggers here can relate.

For me, there’s my mother’s house in Vermont, which is “home sweet home” in the beautifully chaotic way of a destructive thunderstorm. Any house that is home to a teenage boy, two princesses under 6, two golden retrievers, a black lab, a guinea pig, a beautiful Irish-blooded woman and a hard-working mechanic has the right to be compared to a storm; a mid-August thunderstorm, though, which might cut out a few power lines, but which leaves in its wake greener grass and happier gardens.

My other home is my dad’s red-shuttered house in the woods at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York, where I grew up. This home is slightly more peaceful, although, with two more siblings (little boys ages 9 and 6) and two more dogs, this sanctuary can easily resemble Texas or Alabama during tornado season, as well.

Then, there’s wherever I’m living at the moment. At 18, my high school sweetheart helped me pack my car to drive north for four years of college. We cried in each other’s arms, even though I was only going two hours away and would see him almost every weekend until we broke up a year later. Since then, my “home” has changed every year, stretching between states and now countries.

Looking back at the beginning of my journeys, I laugh at how my teenage self couldn’t see out the back window of my poor weighed-down Volvo for the mountain of litter in the backseat – and for only 9 months of dorm living in my home state. Since then, I’ve learned to rotate my worldly possessions as I gain them in my travels and give away others, according to the weather where I’m headed or just to avoid paying extra for weight limitations at airports. I’ve been known to donate bags of clothes and to part with books at terminals, leaving them lovingly stacked next to the leathery seats hoping that they will be adopted by a lonely traveler. It's not that I see myself as some hyper-spiritual pilgrim who has renounced fashion on a path to enlightenment. It's more so that I don't really work out, and my arms get tired carrying one hundred pounds of stuff.

The practice of non-attachment has not grown any easier for me in regard to books, though, and I’d let go of my shoes and toiletries before giving up my three favorite novels, whose scribbled-on pages and water damaged edges have been my most loyal travel companions. However, I now carry around a fraction of what I did the first time I left home, now fitting my stuff neatly into two normal-sized suitcases, ready to leave for indefinite periods of time to unknown places.

My friends and family delight in calling me the “family gypsy,” but I’m not fond of this nickname since moving to Europe last August and discovering how loaded the word is culturally; I prefer “nomad.” It doesn’t seem to be so steeped in a history of degradation toward a specific group of people. I just looked up the definition of “nomad” on dictionary.com: “Any wanderer.” Again, I'm sure many people here can relate.

Currently, my books and I are resting in a little studio apartment in the sixteenth arrondissement of Paris for an entire year – the longest I’ve spent in one place in six sun rotations. Since arriving, I have visited a few places in northern and southern France, as well as Italy, Croatia, and Germany. I’m going to start writing about my adventures on this platform now, although I have blogged about my previous European escapades on my travel blog on blogspot.

I leave Paris at the end of July. From here, I’ll fly to Montreal or New York City and catch a bus to Vermont, where I’ll stay for a few weeks before moving indefinitely to Hong Kong. My boyfriend, a Frenchman I met while here, moved there recently for his job and can get me a visa. The plan is to live with him in our flat in Tuen Mun and do extensive travelling around Nepal, China, New Zealand, and more. I’m hoping to find work writing or teaching English in the meantime.

Even though I don’t plan on taking trips outside of Paris before I say au revoir, the beauty of living is that there is always something to discover, and the City of Lights makes this even easier. For now, I’ll be writing about these Parisian adventures.

 

Tags: asia, home, hong kong, nomad, packing, paris

 

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