Tales of a 21st Century Gypsy

April 28, 2004. Interlude

Iím back in Arlington now, camping in my driveway. Iíve been a month on the road. Long enough to realize that I love the freedom and independence of the road, and donít miss stability at all. The hassles of life are all here in Arlington Ė mixed-up insurance claims to resolve, computer to repair or replace, tax forms to file, living with other people instead of alone, car whose battery died in the garage, work on my house that Iíve been happy to leave to Susannaís attentive ingenuity. It all ties me down, makes me feel that Iím not allowed to be as free as I would like. Thatís how ordinary life is Ė we must solve the insurance problems and respond to the IRS and fix our computers, vans, or houses when they donít work properly. Some of it Iíve planned for Ė taxes done on time, monthly bills paid. But the unexpected ones drag me down, the computer wasnít supposed to act up, the lab wasnít supposed to file the insurance forms without the doctorís name on them.

Could I simplify my life enough to avoid even these hassles? Sell my car so thereís no need to worry about it sitting in my garage. Get rid of all the stuff in my basement so I donít have to worry that it will mildew or be chewed into mouse nests or be flooded the next time the rain makes it in. Get rid of the basement itself Ė sell the house instead of hanging onto it as an anchor to which Iím tied with chains that feel much too heavy right now.

Could I really sell it? Do I really want to have no place that I could call home if I needed to? Maybe I do. For some years I enjoyed feeling that I was tied into this community, active in my neighborhood, at the county level, and on regional issues. I loved coming home to my house, knowing people in the community, hanging out in a coffee house where everyone knew me, addressing the county board members as Chris and Jay, not Mr. Zimmerman or Mr. Fisette.

Some people on the road say the world is their community. I donít say that. I donít want any community. I meet lots of people on the road, and thatís fascinating, but our interactions are utterly superficial and we have no expectation of ever seeing each other again. Which is perfectly fine with me. My interest in these interactions is intellectual, or sociological. I donít necessarily like the people I meet, or want to be friends with them. I want to see more of the range of people and lives out there, talk to people I wouldnít be friends with, get a glimpse of all different ways of living. I suppose this is terribly selfish of me, but if Iím not hurting anyone else by it, Iím not creating expectations that I wonít live up to, then perhaps itís okay. After all, most of the folks I wrote about a few days ago certainly donít care about me either.

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