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Archive for the ‘Location’ Category

Here’s the thing: when I decided to marry Kristl and settle down in Chicago, I thought the idea of “Life by Wandering” was kind of done.

The idea being that I would live a whole bunch of different places, and get to know this country, this world, by living in for a year or two in them. The best way to understand a place is to live in it, get to know the locals, make a few friends, set down a few roots, and pick up the essence of the place.

I’ve done this in several places in the midwest: Grand Rapids, MI; Toledo, OH, Detroit, MI; Chicago, IL (yes, the actual city of Chicago.) I’ve also lived in Denver, CO, San Francisco, CA, and Tokyo, Japan. Some of these places I only spent a couple months. Some I spent years. But up until my relationship with Kristl, I was convinced that I was going to be constantly on the move.

Bear with me if you know this, but Kristl was an acupuncturist and she had a significant brick and mortar practice. In fact, by the time she decided to sell that practice and move on, she had her own practice space with three treatment rooms and was grossing over six figures of income. She was successful, but it was unlikely that we were going to leave Chicago with that kind of career.

However, my dream of travel, living all over, and seeing the country and the world in a very intimate way didn’t die. It intensified, and I wasn’t alone. About a year ago, Kristl heard a podcast interview of a couple who both have location independent jobs and live in an RV together. And they weren’t in their 60’s. They were a little younger than us.

An RV? Remote work? Location independence? These terms were like fresh spring water after a long walk in the desert. The truth behind Kristl’s practice was that it was successful in it’s own right, and it was paying the bills, but it wasn’t touching her student loan debt. Also, she felt chained to it. We love Chicago, but we were both ready to try something new. We reasoned out some viable timelines, two to three years to build up the practice and transition out, five years at most. I would do farming and sustainability coaching. Easy-peasy.

Then I had a life threatening illness in May and the picture changed dramatically. A cozy three to five year plan seemed foolish. Why waylay your life goals when you never know how much time you could have?

We decided to move to North Carolina in the fall. Kristl would sell her practice. We would start a business together. We would figure things out. The most important thing was to be healthy, to find joy, to move closer to the goal of being able to freely see more of the world and by that understand more of who I am.

We moved at the very end of October. It’s mid April now. This road has not been easy. I am not a natural entrepreneur. I have learned much about myself, and I have had opportunities to redefine many parts of who I know myself to be. I think if you knew me in college or grad school (or even high school, if we’re going that far back), you’ll find me a much less flamboyant, more willing to listen individual than I ever was.

Regardless, I realized that I thought I had to completely let go of this wandering dream to be with Kristl, and suddenly here we are, in a much bigger way, pursuing it together. I never would have thought to pursue remote work or to start my own business to live in many different places. It is through this partnership that the legacy of Life by Wandering lives on.

We are getting our things in order. We may well be in North Carolina for a while yet, but that dream is slowly becoming a reality. The nuts and bolts of a life of real travel are coming into focus. Time is a construct, frustrating though that truth might be. Anytime something is trying your patience, remember that you don’t know all the beauty, magic, and infinite good that is taking place to make the thing you are waiting for come into being exactly as it is supposed to, at exactly the right time.

Allllllll of this is to say that I LOVE that I don’t need to rename or restart my blog. I can just restart exactly where I left off. If you ever feel like you are a wanderer, remember you don’t have to wander aimlessly, you can wander with a purpose. You can wander with a map, and use Google maps. You can live your life by wandering and see the whole damn world. That’s what I’m doing.

 

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As you may have picked on, in the last 6 months, my life has gone through a lot of changes.  I was pretty damn depressed, because of a lack of social support system in a woe-begotten city.  My job was overly demanding, and I was not healthy enough to deal with the stress of it.  So, I quit my job, I left that city, and I moved home.  I bought supplementary health insurance, got a refund on my car insurance, and devoted myself to full-time job searching.  I rented an apartment in the 3rd largest city in America with a good friend and within a couple months, I landed a good job in that city.  Now, I spend 5 days a week commuting an hour each way, morning and evening, to a job on the south side, while live 2 blocks from Lake Michigan on the north side.  It is a good life, but I never thought it would happen to me.  I also never thought that it would suit me.

Growing up, especially in high school, when we would caper “downtown”, I would find it exciting and rewarding to lead whatever group of friends to the right L stop and the right location.  It was something we would do with the tenuous permission of our parents and almost always in large groups.  I had my 18th birthday party at Ed Debevic’s (a trendy 1950’s-esque restaurant where the waiters are paid actors who give you a hard time and occasionally stop for dance numbers.)  It was exhilarating, gutsy, remote.  It was Chicago.  But I never even briefly considered living here.  I never gave colleges in the city the slightest consideration.  Frankly, I wanted to be further away from my parents than that.  I also wanted to be further away from my high school friends too.

So, I got away.  I spend 4 years in Grand Rapids for college, only returning to the Chicago area during the summer between my first and second years.  Subsequent summers took me to Japan, and Denver, and eventually (after graduating, Toledo.  Toledo was where I attended grad school, and the second summer there I spent part in the UK and the rest in San Francisco.  I was a world traveler, I was an absorber of metropolitan landscapes.  I was prepared to move anywhere, tackle any region, and make a place for myself there.

I took this optimism to Detroit and was met with apathy.  I really was mostly unable to find any like-minded people or at least people with similar interests.  Drama upon drama (and legitimate reasons) aside, I had to come back to Chicago. And I knew, for some reason, this was my time to live in Chicago.  To really get to know the city I had grown up so close to.

I was worried at first.  Having just come from a difficult situation, I knew I needed all the support I could get.  And I definitely needed a job.  But now that everything is in place, and I have a social network, a job, and enough activities, visitors, and errands to keep me comfortably busy, I feel very much at home. The thing is, I thought that the city would wear me out; I thought that I would get tired of being surrounded by people, sounds, and lights all the time.  But really, that hasn’t happened.  If it’s too loud at night, I stopper up my ears with earplugs.  If it’s too bright, with the city light pollution, I have an eyemask.  If I feel closed in by all the buildings, I just walk down to the lake front.  Rather than an enemy, the city skyline is a friend.  I greet the city each day exiting my stop on the red line.  Technically, I’ve just ridden under it, but seeing the skyline from that bridge makes me feel like the day has started and I can go on.  It’s anchoring.  It’s solid.  And for all intents and purposes, it’s a permanent thing.

I also thought I would miss nature.  I mean, walking through a quiet woods is something that really makes my soul feel peace and makes me feel centered and whole.  Well, turns out, Chicago has trees.  And parks, and a free zoo, and a nature preserve with numerous species of waterfowl.  It’s pretty damn peaceful.  Even walking through a quiet street can be spiritually edifying.  I do miss the woods, but I’m not suffering or displaced.  If all else fails, I can sneak out to the suburbs and sit on my folks’ patio and watch the creek creep by.

So, here I am, sitting in the city of Chicago, in my apartment, with all my stuff.  There is no way I would complain about how things have turned out.  I’m so glad I had the strength to do difficult things and take care of myself over my career or other people’s feelings.  Careers are made up anyway.  You can form a career, but no one really needs one.  And I’m always scheming ways to start a new one.  It’s exciting.

As always, I appreciate your comments.  Cheers.

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