2020 started like many other years…champagne toasts, noisemakers, and laughter. One difference for me was I was home in Warren, Ohio for the first time in seven years. My home was overflowing with family and friends, my heart was happy, and everyone seemed ready to put 2019 behind them and jump into the new decade with both feet.
I saw family and friends I hadn’t seen in a year and a half, I met new friends and I experienced the most amazing night of my life. But…that three-letter word with big implications…but, I was ready to leave again. Little did we know then, that today, Easter Sunday, we, as in most of the world, would be in quarantine following shelter-in-place rules.
February 2, 2020, I left Warren, Ohio USA for Warsaw, Poland. Packing a bag with only what I can carry and taking off on my own comes easily. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to get my bag packed and head off to summer camp. In 2014, I packed a bag, moved to Paris without knowing anyone and only basic language skills. 2015, repeat, except this time I moved to China with no language skills, little knowledge of the culture and knew no one. 2020, repeat and move to Poland and a language someone told me was as difficult as mandarin. That I can’t say I agree with, but they did create a full language using the last five letters of the alphabet…ha-ha. That’s a joke!
After I had been in Poland a couple of weeks, during a conversation, one of my newfound friends commented to me that she knew I was “a loner”. Her comment took me back for a moment, had she touched on my secret? “But”, there’s that word again, wouldn’t being a loner also make me an introvert? Introvert, loner, extrovert, sociopath, psychopath, empath, narcissist…what/who am I? Don’t know, don’t care! I am who I am and have no idea where I fall in the personality type spectrum. If I had to choose one, Angela, I would agree, that I am a loner. Although, I prefer to call myself a nomad.
I grew up in a small, somewhat isolated neighborhood and had 1 best friend a year younger than me. Starting school, Barb was still my closest friend and I didn’t add many more. I usually went home for lunch so I could watch Jeopardy with my dad. I preferred that to staying at school and playing. I pretty much stayed this way right through high school. I did go to football games, but rarely attended house parties or other social activities. My brother, on the other hand, was the host of many house parties, so I guess I got my fill through him. Although, nowadays, I think I would put him in the “loner” category with me. I still require a lot of alone time, which is probably why quarantine isn’t a problem for me. If you know me or follow my travels/blog, you may ask how I can be a loner and have friends all over the world. I will answer this by saying, I think by travelling solo, you have the advantage to meet more people. These people are often like-minded solo travellers…also loners. How is this possible? You can’t be anti-social, a loner, and yet meet and click with hundreds of people around the globe. Think about it. When you travel as a family or even a couple, how often do you reach out to solo travellers? I mean really connect! We aren’t anti-social, I prefer socially selective.
The ability to be alone is an important part of the nomad lifestyle. You meet people you may be with for 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week or even 1 month, but you have to accept the fact you most likely will never see most of these people ever again. Sure there are promises to stay in touch or I’m going to come to visit you in your home country, but…you move on and meet the next person and the next person, you don’t forget those people for they have all left a mark on your soul.
I know this a totally random post, but a couple of things got me thinking this morning. Yesterday, I was chatting on the phone with a friend back in the states, he asked me, “do you wish you were back here during this quarantine?” and last night I was on a Zoom chat/trivia/drinking session with a group of girlfriends who often got together at the local watering hole and restaurant, Jacked Steakhouse, which is right below my condo in Warren. At the end of the session, everyone was commenting on how great it will be to get together once this “situation” is over and “I can’t wait to see you” or “I can’t wait until we are all together again at Jacked”. Both situations made me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because I had to tell the truth and I know the truth hurts. I had to tell Bill, “no, I don’t wish I was back in the states during this time.” I’m right where I want to be. Life may not be as I thought it would be right now, but I’m happy right here in Warsaw. I’m used to being alone and I like it. I live alone when I am in Warren, so it’s not like I would shelter-in-place with other people. Although, truth be told, its easier to follow the #stayhome movement in a city where you have no car and know few people vs downtown Warren where I most likely would sneak downstairs or down the street while attempting to keep social distancing…Then, I had to tell my girlfriends, sorry, I love you guys and when this is all over, I’ll join you via some long-distance video chat while you all get together at the bar, but I want to be right where I am. It’s hard to convey these feelings to people you care about and enjoy their company. I guess I have been training for this moment since I decided to to take on the nomad way of life. It has made me a professional at social distancing. To those, I have met on my journey and I will never see again, I won’t forget you. Family and friends, I had an amazing visit to Warren and loved each minute I spent with all of you…God willing, I’ll see you again. For now, I can share my journey with you from where I am and know you are welcome to join me along the way. Happy Easter!