Confessions of a Nomad: Part 1

So far I’m accumulating three categories for these blog confessionals:

  1. Stupid stuff I’ve done;
  2. Things I’ve left at peoples’ houses;
  3. Any other random things I choose to add.

I started out with a pretty good record of not leaving stuff at places I’ve stayed, although in the very second house where I dog-sat, I left my phone charger cord and some food in the fridge.  Because the third house I was staying in was in a completely opposite side of town, I had to arrange a rendezvous in a shopping center with a relative of the owner.  I resolved to be more careful, so I did better for a long time.

Recently, however, I’ve lost my mind.

boot6When I left Poppy’s after 6 weeks she texted me and said she knew I’d be back soon, as I had left my COMPUTER!  Then a few days later I got out my gray boots to wear and found only one.  I contacted Poppy who did find the other one under my bed, and I went to pick it up.  Since that time, I can’t find both in my car in any of my tubs. Isn’t my one gray boot cute? Sigh! I hope I still have both of them. Somewhere.

I got a text from my surgery friend where I most recently stayed and she told me that she found my black Skechers under her dining room table. OK. At least she lives fairly close to work when I get back to Indiana. (I’m still at Sister Julie’s in Ohio and headed to my niece’s house in Michigan tomorrow.)

I went to Trader Joe’s and bought stuff for Christmas  at Julie’s who lives in Ohio while I was still in Indy and left it in Poppy’s refrigerator:  Sushi, Fresh Green Bean Almondine, Guacamole. Bummer. I hope they were able to enjoy it.

When I left Brother Tom’s house on a Sunday after spending time with his family’s Christmas celebrations and while on my way to Brother Mike’s farm, I realized I left my only phone charger plugged in in Tom’s kitchen.  For 2 days at Mike’s I made due with only my car charger.

On Tuesday I bought a new charger on my way to Poppy’s house where I stayed over night for one night to see Morgana who was in town from Los Angeles! I left my new charger plugged into the wall when I left her house and had to buy a new one on Wednesday (less than 24 hours after I bought the last one) on the way to Julie’s house. Doofus brain.

Under the random category, I’ve lost two bras somewhere.  I miss the black one.

Also under the same category, I peed behind the Broad Ripple Art Center one evening and I’m pretty sure no one saw me.  Crusty the dog also peed there.  So, what’s the big deal?

Life at Full Throttle?

Mikes Christmas treeBrother Mike read all 20+ of my blog posts at the same time sitting beside me in his family room.  When he finished, I asked him what he thought.  Well, you are homeless and you feel free.

I had nothing to say back.  I sat in silent contemplation, deciding maybe I needed to stop writing.  After a few minutes, I realized that Mike clearly had boiled down my experience to its essence.   However, I need a few more words.  So, I allowed myself to once again feel the intense sense of freedom and happiness when I hit the road as I left his wonderful homestead.

Sometimes as I drive on road trips, I burst out in laughter.  Sometimes I break out in song. I often catch myself grinning. Areas that I’ve traveled by a hundred times look brand new to me. The world seems to sparkle a bit brighter.

So, when I was at a dinner party two nights ago, I was talking to a good friend and I heard myself say that I was happier than any time in my life, I was surprised that I instantaneously wanted to also throw up—that I felt like I had just become a huge cliché. I simultaneously heard a 16-year-old girl talking to her girlfriends giddily KNOWING that she would marry her current boyfriend. I heard a 21-year-old girl/woman swooningly about to marry her young love. I heard a new mother who was overwhelmed having just birthed her new baby. I heard a 40-year-old woman who had FINALLY found true love in her third husband. Yuck!

What was happening to me? What in the hell was I THINKING and/or FEELING?! Of course I wasn’t the happiest that I had ever been in my entire life? I have lived a pretty darn good life.

Fortunately I was talking to a centered, thoughtful friend who immediately provided a different perspective. He said that he thinks that I am experienced and old (mature) enough to truly appreciate what a lack of great responsibility means. I agreed. Today, my sister, Julie, just told me she thinks that I am so happy because I always live my life full-throttle regardless of circumstances and I am getting an opportunity to truly go for it. I’ll have to think about that one a bit more.

I have always been amazed that each person’s new, latest lover and/or mate is SO much better than the last one.  But, of course, that HAS to be true.  Why wouldn’t that be true? Why would anyone fall in love with someone who wasn’t better/funnier/nicer than the last husband/wife/lover?

We should always demand more of life as we get older and more experienced. Life is here for us to live. Sometimes we don’t have choices and it is dealt to us and we make the best of it. But, for goodness sake, if you have choices, and you don’t go for it and live it to the fullest, then that’s on you!

So, I’ve done a 180 and decided that, yes, I indeed AM the happiest I have ever been in my life!  Maybe I WAS really happy walking through the streets of Marrakech, Morroco. Maybe I WAS extremely happy sitting on the rocks watching and listening to the crashing waves in Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine. Maybe I was ecstatically happy watching the sun rise over Mt. Everest in Nepal. Whatever. That was then. This is now. The future’s never coming and the past has never been.

I am loving life.  ‘Nuf said.

Merry Christmas!

No Longer a Gun Virgin

On the last day of school/work before Christmas break, I was already so happy, my need for break was not as big as usual. I had just spent a week with a single friend who had been recovering from surgery and I got to help her out in some minor ways like walking her dog and getting meals together, etc. Mostly we just had fun being together and I was thrilled to be able to be in a helping capacity since, as a single person, I know how hard it is to ask for and to accept help from others.

When I told my building Principal my busy two-week break itinerary, she asked if I had a AAA card, then she said, That’s all you need. I repeated That’s all I need…and this cell phone. (Who remembers Steve Martin in The Jerk?)

So, I hit the road on Saturday morning once again feeling free as a bird on a windy day and heading northeast to Angola. About one week before, I had had a brief conversation about guns with a gun-loving friend and I had mentioned that I had never fired a gun. Many would call me anti-gun, but I am really anti-killing-with-guns. I have been a vegetarian for 40 years because I don’t believe we have to kill animals to survive. I hate the gun violence in our country, etc. You get the idea. At the time of that conversation I fully expected that I would never fire a gun in my lifetime.

So as I was standing in the kitchen talking to my sister-in-law shortly after arrival on Saturday afternoon and when Brother Tom burst in the back door and told me to put my coat on, I instantly obeyed.  He told me that we had something to do together.

If you recall from an earlier post, Tom lives out in the country on 40 acres of heaven. I put on some country-stomping boots and we took off in his candy-apple red truck with three types of guns that he said we were going to shoot together.

So, how quickly did I change my mind from not wanting to ever fire a gun to deciding to fire three guns with my brother? In the second my brother told me what he wanted me to do was the second I decided I would do it. I am in a phase of experiencing new things and I am not about to turn anything down that is not going to hurt anyone.  So here we go!

tom and gunWe drove down to the back part of the property where he has his targets. On the way down, he explained why he had wanted this particular Henry 357 Magnum rifle made from walnut wood and brass. Brother Tom had just received this beautiful gun as his retirement gift from his chiropractic practice. He hadn’t even shot it yet, so I felt honored that I was going to be the second person to shoot it.

He shot it three times hitting the mark each time. Tom was clearly excited at the quality of his new gun and the overall feel. His happiness was palpable.

jyoti and rifleThen it was time for my instructions. I think Tom wanted me not to break any bones. I didn’t either. He explained how to hold it on my shoulder, I pulled back the hammer. I aimed the best I could, although a bit skakily. The time had come. The rubber had met the road. I was going to fire a gun.

Ka BOOM!  I screamed!  I missed the target but Tom said I was close all three times. My hand is not the steadiest nowadays, so I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t hit the target. (This smiling picture is clearly not the moment I fired.  HA!)

jyoti handgunI next shot a Colt .45 double wide and a .22 was the third and last gun I shot that day. I screamed at the kick and loudness of the Colt .45. Tom said that I also dropped my bottom, left hand. I shot each gun three times…nine total.  I wonder if that will be my lifetime total.

After spending the rest of the weekend celebrating an early Christmas with all of Brother Tom’s children and grandchildren, I headed to Brother Mike’s also-heavenly farm in Logansport–two hours away. If you recall Mike is the storyteller of the family, so I spent much of a day sitting at his kitchen table hearing stories about 10,000 things.

When I told Mike about the firing of Tom’s guns, I of course had to learn about the mathematics of guns–why a .22 is a .22 and a .45 is a .45.  Most of you may know that, but I didn’t.  He also showed me a fired civil war bullet, among other relics.  (P.S. Mike did get his other barn door built and put up before winter!)

So this morning, I hit the road again!  I am tonight back in Indianapolis where I will see people who are traveling in from St. Louis, NYC, and Los Angeles as I dine with neighbors and good friends from my old neighborhood. After literally sleeping on a couch tonight, tomorrow I will lunch with Brother Pat who is in from Alabama, then I travel east to Sister Julie’s house in Ohio!  I may even be able to fit in a visit with my niece from Michigan as I pass through her Indiana hometown.

I’m jamming it in! I will have visited with four siblings, and many friends from seven states in five days!  HAHA!  See what we meant by all I needed was my AAA card and cell phone? Some of these arrangements were just made today!

See you on the road!

The Future’s Never Coming and the Past has Never Been

Today is my birthday. 65th. Not sure how life passes so quickly. It just does. 65 cycles, 65 full rotations. You young folks hear us all say it: We don’t feel old—until we look in the mirror.  HAHA. No celebration is planned; life is low-key. I have a Skype date tonight with my two daughters and my one-year-old granddaughter who all live in Oakland, California.

Marigold backWhen this darling toddler sees me on the screen she kisses me and I can feel the love. (I completely ignore the fact that she kisses her stuffed animals as well!) She doesn’t really know how far away I am. In her short lifetime she has seen more of me on the phone or a computer screen than me in person. She doesn’t even know that her existence is a mighty force that pulls me west.  My granddaughter doesn’t know that she looks like her Mother and her Grandmother when we were young. She doesn’t know she will grow up in an urban setting of great diversity unlike anything I ever knew as a child. She doesn’t know what an awesome future awaits. She indeed is living in an Innocent Age: her life involves only today.  And in reality, that’s all any of us ever have. Today.

fogelberginnocentThe lines of life are never long
When seen from end to end
‘Cause the future’s never coming
And the past has never been.

Dan Fogelberg

I’ve been at Poppy’s house since November 4, except for the one wonderful week that I spent with Crusty in Broad Ripple over Thanksgiving.  If you recall our story from my earlier post, Poppy and I have lived somewhat parallel lives.  But let’s all remember that even though I am friends with the people I move in with, I have never LIVED with them before. So, we never really know how compatible we will be as housemates.

As it turns out, living with Poppy has been as easy as putting on an old pair of jeans.  We cooked and ate meals together, we built fires when we were chilly, we watched the Colts win and lose, we raked leaves and cleaned out gutters.  Clearly I fulfilled with Poppy #4 of my original goals for embarking on this adventure.

But one magical day came last weekend when we decorated the Christmas tree on December 6th, her daughter, Morgana’s, 31st birthday. We put up and decorated the tree because Morgana is coming home from California for the holidays.

I went through Poppy’s albums looking for Christmas music and found instead that our music collections (mine is now gone, of course—daughter and her hubby took many of my classics and I gave the rest away) contain the same musical selections!  Besides the aforementioned strong women singers mentioned in my previous post, we were both surprised to know that we knew all the words to the whole album Last Train to Hicksville by Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks! Who knew?!

dove of peaceWe both have always agreed that Dan Fogelberg was the best poet/songwriter of our times and we listened to and sang along to the songs on both albums in the set Innocent Age as Poppy told me family stories that accompanied the ornaments that I unwrapped and she hung on the tree. We discovered that we both have the very same Dove of Peace that we put at the top of our trees. (I suppose I should say ‘used to put’ since mine is now gone with the rest of my Christmas ornaments.)

peppyAt one point, the lights inexplicably went out on the Christmas tree. We ignored them, hoping they would magically just come back on. Minutes later, as she took out one ornament, Poppy shared with me that one morning years before, she woke up to these Fogelberg lyrics in her head: Death is there to keep us honest and constantly remind us we are free. Then in her story, her phone had rung, the person on the other end telling her that her father had died. The exact second that she told me that, the Christmas tree lights came back on (we weren’t near the tree), never to go off again. She looked up, said “Thanks, Dad!” and we kept decorating.

We never did get to any Christmas music. The depth of Dan Fogelberg’s lyrics were not to be trivialized with seasonal songs.

Staying with Poppy, I have relived some of my past, embraced my present, and feel rested (like I have been home) and ready to jettison into my future. (I mean…I unpacked and had my stuff in a closet and drawers!!). I move today to another friend’s house to help her out after surgery that she had this week. I feel so fortunate to be able to have the time and freedom to do so.

And as Robert Frost said Freedom lies in being bold.  I hope to boldly move forward letting go of yesterday’s pathways, forging some new ones where possible.

Time stills the singing
A child holds so dear
And I’m just beginning to hear
Gone are the pathways
The child followed home
Gone, like the sand and the foam.

Dan Fogelberg

The Morning the Sun Rose in the West

sunrise1I got out of the shower and saw the orange brightness of the sunrise through the trees.  It started small and got a bit bigger and brighter in the few minutes that I dried off.  Then it hit me: This second-floor bathroom window faces west!  In the next few minutes, I was trying to figure out if I was in the Twilight Zone or not.  I methodically mulled over the direction of the house where I was staying—back, front, north, south—and swiftly came to the conclusion that if all else that I knew to be true was indeed true, the sun appeared to be coming up from the west.  I didn’t know what to think or do next, so I kept getting ready for work.

When I moved to the other end of the large bathroom and looked out the window from a slightly different view between the trees, I then clearly saw that there were a couple of tall downtown buildings about a mile away that was reflecting the rising sun IN THE EAST!

Don’t judge me. I’ve lived in quite a few houses in the last four months.  I’ve had some moments—only a few—of disorientation.   I always know where I am when I wake up; only one morning I awoke and expected to see the nightstand and lamp from my old house. I missed a haircut appointment, which I NEVER do. I remembered it in the morning, remembered it in the afternoon and left work only thinking of returning to ‘my home’ in Geist. I lost my glasses somewhere in one house where I stayed. I was so glad that I had a spare pair—but I didn’t know where they were and couldn’t find them. They certainly aren’t in the containers in the car where I expected them to be. I was then homeless AND glassesless. Fortunately my regular glasses were found under a couch a few days after I left.

And, yes, I obviously know that the sun rises in the east.  But what would you think if you actually SAW it rising from the west?  You’d probably do exactly what I did.  You’d keep getting ready to go to work.