My grams often referred to her part of the family as gypsies. They wandered a lot, or at least she said they did. After my granpap passed away, I remember her moving house quite a bit as we grew up. Every few years she’d pack up and move. I never asked why. I always liked the idea of wandering, of being gypsified. And so it began, this life on the move.
My nature though is to be grounded, to seek out stability, to plant roots. So my internals have always been conflicted. To stay or to go, with the decision most often made by someone else – a landlord, a boyfriend, a school, a job … Of course a lot of decisions to move around were made on my part – I made the decision to come to California when I was three even though it took eighteen years to manifest, I decided to go to Paris, I decided to travel whenever and wherever I could afford to do so.
I don’t care what anyone else says, travel is an experiment in how to live with your self. It’s all about self discovery. It’s an education. Travel is all about learning how to relate to other people, places, cultures. It’s all about absorption and adaptation. It’s a walkabout. It’s about being in the moment.
What travel is not about? It’s not about bragging, it’s not about one-upmanship or competition, it’s not about being shallow or ticking things off of a stupid bucket list, and it’s definitely not about homelessnesses. Unless of course your money is running out and you are too stupid to pack it in and go home. And even then, you still aren’t homeless, you are just stupid. Or experimental. Or nomadic. Or a gypsy. I’ll give you that. But homeless you are not.
There is not much that makes me angry anymore. But some disrespectful traveler who jokes around about being homeless, fills me with rage.
Why, you might ask?
I live in a 1971 VW bus called The Escape Pod. I live in it out of necessity. For the moment. In the past I have lived in it out of adventure, for fun, to live free, and to travel … but I have never ever been homeless. Because even living in it out of necessity is my choice.
Homelessness is not a choice. No matter what you tell yourself so that you can avoid thinking about it.
When was the last time you made a meal for a truly homeless person? Or even took a moment to stop and talk to someone who was living on the streets out of necessity? It makes me deeply sorrowful to know that there are people out there who do not understand what being homeless really is. Being homeless is not shallow. It’s a deep dysfunction. It’s broken. It’s a reflection on you and me. And it’s caused by people like those who joke about being homeless because you don’t know enough about it. You haven’t really looked within yourself. You haven’t gone deep enough.
If you ever meet me on the road and dare to joke about being homeless on your travels, I will smack you. I will smack you hard.
And then we’re gonna sit down and have a talk.