Home looks a little different these days. Technically speaking, I haven’t lived at a residential address since December 20, 2019. While I did live at my parents’ house for ten weeks through COVID, the majority of this year has been living a nomadic lifestyle. It’s something I’ve been searching for for a while. I always envisioned ways to live without a lease or rent. Rent is typically the largest expense for the month, and I always knew I could live in a way where my budget for the entire month was as much as I spent on rent. When I lived in Dallas, I had this grand plan to vanlife it around the city. When I moved to San Francisco, I wanted to live full-time on a sailboat. I’ve always wanted to live smaller and now my home is a two-person tent that I pitch and take down everyday. My bed is a 2″ thick air mattress and I usually don’t use my sleeping bag till it gets cold enough for it around 2am.
Today, I rode into California, Missouri, and I can’t help but reminisce on my time in the state. California life made a lot of sense to me. I had finally found a place that was as flexible as I was. When I told my landlord I was moving out before my lease was up, he asked more about my journey and wished me good luck. At work, I found a balance between work and life and my coworkers accepted it. Of course there were some weeks that were imbalanced, but for the most part, people understood that I wasn’t going to consistently work 50+ hours a week and neither were they. In my free time, I would bike around the Bay with friends, go sailing, or run through Golden Gate Park. While my next move won’t be taking me back to San Francisco, my time there taught me that work-life balance and flexibility are possible and I hope to have those things in regular life when I get there again.
With my new life biking across America, I’ve found a different balance where I have more free time than time in the saddle. It’s the time when I stop biking for the day that I actually don’t know what to do with. And while this may seem like the point of this lifestyle, it can actually be pretty weird to not have anything to do after living a 24/7 fast-paced lifestyle before. My bike is working properly, my camp is setup, I’ve eaten for the day, and then there’s really nothing pressing left to do. Some days I listen to an audiobook or some new music, then there’s days like today where I’ll write down an extended version of my thoughts.
Something I’ve learned from life on the road is that those things I used to do in San Francisco – biking, sailing, and running – were stress relievers from work. When things got stressful, I found myself doing more physical activity and longer distances. Now that my ‘job’ is physical activity, life is a lot less stressful and I’m not using my old ways of stress relief. I wake up whenever I want and pedal at whatever pace I want to. It’s really only up to me how I spend my day. I’m trying to embrace having a lot of free time while I can right now, since it won’t always be this way.
While my life is drastically different than before, I’m learning more and more about what I want in my regular life from conversations I’m having on the road. I get to learn how people live their lives. Today, I stopped by a Mennonite produce stand where the family who owned it lives off the land and travel primarily by horse and buggy or bicycle. The other night, I met an older couple who had escaped the city life for a night to look at the stars with their telescope. Another couple was trying to buy land in the Missouri/Arkansas area that didn’t have building restrictions so they could put an RV or tiny house on it. I feel fortunate to be able to learn about how other people live their lives and hope to incorporate these little pieces of life into my future lifestyle.