Friday, April 10, 2015

The Journey Begins

I am officially a nomad.  I boarded a train at 6:20 pm and left for New Orleans on my way out of the country for an indefinite period of time.

I'm a lot older than I look.  Most people guess my age at least 10 years younger than I am, and I've had guesses at literally half my age in the last couple years.  This is only relevant because I grew up in a different world than the one I live in today.  For example, when I graduated from high school, no one had ever had a cell phone at school.  I'm not even sure I saw my first cell phone in person until after I was out of the Navy.  Things were different.  Case in point, when I was growing up, trains were romantic.  A leisurely journey cross country, staring out the window at the passing scenery as you were gently rocked to sleep.  If you've been riding Amtrak in the last 10 years, you'll know that the experience had gone downhill a lot.  Well, until now.  My trip from Lafayette to New Orleans reminded me of the romance of my youth.

I've seen first class compartments in planes that didn't have as much room as every seat had on this train.  The seats were large, comfortable, and not only leaned back, but also had adjustable leg support and foot rests.  There were two 120 volt wall sockets for every pair of seats.  You were free to walk around at any time, and the large windows had curtains.  There was plenty of leg room, and the trays were large and accomodating. Sound was well insulated from the outside.  Despite the near constant running of the whistle, it was barely background noise and not at all oppressive.  As I sat on the upper level, the train rocked nicely.  Despite a small girl just shy of talking age throwing a fit almost the whole trip, sound was not a problem.  I put my headphones in and listened to the sounds of oscillating brown noise (Simply Noise app) that sounded a lot like the ocean lulling me to sleep.  The train arrived late at my departing station, where I watched a spring thunderstorm pour rejuvenating waters on the earth, and listened to the crashes of thunder.  And despite being picked up late, we reached New Orleans a little early.  If this is any sign of things to come, Amtrak will feature in more of my future travel plans.  Assuming, of course, that I make it back to the states to travel.

And that brings me back to being the new nomad.  I was born into the military way of life.  My father was in boot camp when I was born, and retired at 30 years.  Until I was 25, I had never known a way of life that was not nomadic.  Every few years would find us in a new place, be it a new state, base, or even country.  As a result of the frequent moves, and my personal proclivities, I became a tumbleweed.  I have no roots anywhere.  There is no place that has a hold on me.  I have no reason to stay.

After I was discharged from the Navy, 5 more years of the nomad lifestyle, I spent nearly 16 years in Missouri, first in Springfield, and then in St. Louis.  Despite being there for so long, I never belonged.  I never put down roots, and I felt the horizon call.  Staying in one place drained me.  It left something lacking that is essential for my soul.  In 2011, I broke free.  Since then, I've lived in Florida, Indiana, Arizona, North Carolina, Louisiana, and now, I'm on my way to Spain.  After Spain, Ireland.  After Ireland, who knows.  Maybe Thailand, or maybe Great Britain.  The thing is, I'm leaving the United States, and I have almost no reasons to come back.  I am heading for the horizon.  No looking back. I may stay somewhere for a week, a month, or even a year, but I'll leave when I feel the urge, make plans on helium balloons, and go where the wind takes me.

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