Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Nomads

South Burlington, Vermont

Most often we refer to ourselves as cruisers. We could also say, adventurers, explorers, nomads, or travelers.  All of those fit to some degree and part time.  But of all the possible adjectrives, I think nomads fits best.

Most people feel at home when near their residence.   The residence may change, and after some number of years, the new residence becomes the new home.

Explorers feel most relaxed when they are someplace they've never been before.

Nomads, repeatedly follow a path.  They feel at home along that path, and they feel at home at a number of waypoints along that path    Think of Marco Polo era traders moving between Cathay and Europe.  Think of Laps who follow their reindeer herds.  Think of Libby and me.   The drawing below illustrtates this.  They yellow lines show our habitual path.  Bright yellow for most recent and dull yellow for less recent.   The waypoints along the way (red circles) are the places where we feel at home.   Dull red cirles mark past homes.



I've been thinking about these feelings, "at home" and "nomadic".  I think I've identified the key.  The key is the storehouse of memories associated with that place.  In a town, it is familiarity with all the streets, having traversed them by car, by bike and on foot.  It is familiarity with many or most of the buildings in town having had occasion to  do business there at some time.

Of course memories fade, and that is the origin of the famous saying "You can't go home."  After a prolonged absence,  the reality of the place doesn't match your faded memories any more.  Home doesn't feel home.

Of course, the biggest attractive magnet it the presence of family and friends.  We choose to make the places where family and friends live "home", but the feeling of home is not identical with the presence of family.

But a true nomad also feels at home along the path between the circles.  Libby and I meet that definition.  We can describe every  bend in the river or ICW just as well as workers describe the path between their house and their job.  I believe that to be a true nomad, one has to have a very strong place-orientation in the brain.

Socially, nomads are the most neglected segment of American society.  I suspect most Americans, if asked, would say that no nomads exist in the USA.   I'm reminded of that constantly when dealing with government that wants to nail down my identity and my benefits with a stree address.  Our legal address is at Jen's house in Vermont, but if we didn't have that, I do not believe that we meet the requirements to be residents of Vermont or any other state.


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