Roots run deep
There was a five-year stretch of time during the early 70s when we moved every summer. That’s not as often or for as long a period of time as many other military families, but it was more than many people experience in their lifetimes. It was actually kind of exciting (for us kids at least, though I don’t imagine it was nearly as much fun for my mother who had to arrange most of the mundane moving details while also trying to corral four rambunctious children). New homes, new neighbourhoods, new schools, every year the potential for a new life. Fear mixed with excitement. Our arrival in Shearwater in 1976 marked the end of the moves and the start of my nesting. (With the exception of two transitional, less-than-one-year periods during which I roomed with friends or family, I haven’t lived in the same home for less than eight years at a time since 1976.) Entrenched, rootbound, moving only when my roots are ripped out. For the most part, it’s been a reaction to the endless chaos in my work life, an attempt to enforce some kind of stability in a life that was otherwise out of my control.
I ❤ hotels
But I suspect I’m a repressed drifter at heart. I don’t like the physical act of travelling from point A to point B — in fact, for the most part, I hate it and it tends to make me physically ill — but I enjoy being in both point A and point B. (IF there isn’t someone or something that I’m pining for back in point A, that is. I hated being away from my ex and I do very poorly away from the companionship of my cat now. But during the times when I had neither in my life, I wasn’t emotionally tied to a physical place because home travelled with me or was just some place I lived.) I’ve had a love affair with hotels since I was young. When I was nine years old, we drove from our old home on Vancouver Island to our new home in small town Nova Scotia, staying in a variety of hotels and motels along the way. It was glorious. Once we settled into Shearwater and one school year turned into nearly a decade, I began to forget what travelling was like, what moving continually was like, and I began to grow roots. Or rather, roots started growing around me, anchoring me.
The last two years has seen an escalation in the frequency of my job changes as a result of the economical times we live in and my becoming more of a contractor than an employee. The faster and the more frequently the jobs change, the more quickly I become bored. While I don’t like not working (or rather I don’t like not having money or being able to pay my bills, which necessitates the evils of working), I’m beginning to like the constant adrenaline rush of the continual job/project turnover.
I was reminded the other day of a career counsellor I spoke with after one of my many layoffs. All of the other people who’d been laid off had taken part in a group session with him, but I’d had a vacation planned (to Ottawa, strangely enough) at the time of the layoff and so I had my two-day session upon returning to Halifax a couple of weeks later. (As an aside: if you ever want to feel good about yourself, I highly recommend a little one-on-one time with a good career counsellor. If they’re at all worth what they’re paid, you’ll come out of the session feeling like you can conquer the world.) One of the last things he’d suggested was that perhaps I take some time to just travel around, take a working holiday through Europe or something similar. I didn’t take his advice — fear and lack of starter funds made it a remote possibility too out of reach to even contemplate. I’ve hunkered down into my little nest, securely wrapped in my anchoring roots ever since.
Casting off anchors
Anchors are good when they keep you from floating off into the air like a hot air balloon, but not so good around your ankles as you jump from a sinking boat. Maybe it’s about time that changed. I’m not saying that I plan to dump my life and start bumming around the country. But there’s something to be said for living like you might, like you could at any moment just drop everything and go where the mood or the universe takes you. Minimal clutter, minimal commitments, minimal anchoring. Open to possibilities.