We Planned to be Homeless
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We sold, donated or discarded 95% of our belongings and stored the rest. We turned in our apartment keys and drove off with a backpack for each of us. We have no apartment and no home-base. We're tied to nothing but each other.
We've been working towards this for months, years even, but now, the feeling is surprisingly un-settling. There's a mix of emotions, like a giant pot of soup. We don’t think anyone can go through this type of transition without feeling some sort of anxiety or fear. We’re giving up everything we’ve known, our home, our belongings, and our stability. We’re leaving our family, moving to a new continent and the most consistent thing in our life will be each other and our backpacks.
The Hard Feelings
Community, Friends, Family
Moving away from a standard 9-5, which let’s be honest, is more like a 7:30am to 6pm, means not only do we not have a consistent, reliable source of income, but we’re leaving behind a community. We spent more time on average with our co-workers than we did with family. We of course, enjoyed our daily water-cooler talks, the walks around the office saying hello to people who we never would have become friends with otherwise. Now that this is gone, we find ourselves worried about keeping in touch, knowing that many of these friendships honestly ended the day we stepped out of the office the final time. We battle this worry by reminding ourselves that on the road we'll make friendships with people from all over the world; that in actuality our community has grown from a company of people to a continent of people.
A stronger feeling is a little harder to explain. It's somewhat the fear of not having a consistent income, but more so, that not bringing in the amount of a full time job each month, makes us a lesser spouse/provider. We often tie our feelings of success with our income and the ability to provide for the household. This void of a salary can make us feel an immense pressure to succeed in our professional consulting. While we have set a reasonable and relatively small goal for monthly expenses and savings, we each feel the need to exceed at this if we’re going to be proud of ourselves. When these feelings come up, we have to steady our thinking and be sure to be reasonable and logical. We remind ourselves that our spouse isn't holding us to these standards, we (ourselves) are. We need to realize that we'll be okay if we bring in $1,000 or $10,000 a month. That either way, we should be proud of ourselves, because life is no longer about living to work, but just living.
Less Stuff, Even For Minimalists
We limited our ‘stuff’ to an extremely small amount. All of our stuff, from electronics to clothes to toiletries and everything in between, fit into a 36-litter backpack with between 15-20 pounds of total weight for each of us. This meant going from an entire wardrobe down to two pairs of pants, a couple of skorts/shorts and 4-5 days’ worth of undergarments. To put it into perspective, 8-ounces vs 16-ounces is a big deal. For example, Shannon normally uses 8 makeup brushes when putting makeup on each morning, but it was necessary to get rid of 4 of those brushes and cut off 80% of the handles. It may seem silly; 4 brushes don’t take up much room. But when you combine the 4 brushes with the hair brush, the 4 pairs of socks and underwear, the extra phone cable, and about a dozen other small things that she wanted to bring with her (because they seemed essential) they actually end up taking up a huge amount of space and weight. This process of elimination is hard. Each decision came with visions of situations where we'd be regretting not having the item with us. A ton of “What if…” scenarios flooded our mind. Frankly, they still cross our mind and cause us a little bit of anxiety. We want to prepare for every possible scenario, but we can’t realistically do that. We've learned to think of it differently though. Instead of the scenarios that leave us in regret, fretting over not having something, we instead think of how much better it'll feel walking miles with our packs on our backs and NOT having each and every item on our back that we hesitated not having.
Fear of Loss
A big fear that is hard for anyone to think about, is being gone when a person close to our heart dies. Shannon is leaving her grandfather who is in the last years of his life. He is starting to forget who his family is when we see him. Shannon is leaving her mother who has a rare form of brain cancer/tumor and is losing her vision. She is also leaving her father who is responsible to care for them both and is suffering from stress and health issues that leave her worried for his well-being. Sergio is leaving his mother, who's been his closest friend his entire life. A woman he's cared for just as much as she's cared for him. We're terrified that while we're away, someone will die or be incapacitated and we'll not be there to say goodbye. And while that’s all we can write without breaking down, the emotions surrounding this fear can be overwhelming if we let them be. We talk ourselves down and set these fears aside by reminding ourselves that we can’t control any of these possible events. We can’t put our lives on hold for one or all of these things. Otherwise, we'd never leave and never live our lives because, after all, nothing is ever simple and there's always some sickness, death, or change in family. Plus, we can’t predict and likely no one else can, when any of these things will or won’t happen. It’s time to go and live, and when something happens, that’s when we’ll discuss it, and act accordingly.
Thankfully it isn’t all fear and worry; our emotional soup is mixed with a ton of excitement, joy, and wonder. We keep telling everyone it's going to be an adventure and hopefully a great one at that! There’s a whole world out there for us to explore.
Shannon spent the first 25 years of her life living in the same neighborhood and the same house. Fortunately, she has spread her wings and has since lived in several different cities and states since then. We’ve both traveled to a few countries and obtained a couple of stamps in our passports. But compared to what we’re doing now, it’s nothing; you may as well consider us sheltered. We plan on visiting over two-dozen countries and staying in hostels, hotels, house sits, couch surfs and help exchanges. We’ll be a long way from US customs and culture. It’s absolutely thrilling and we can’t wait to be on a plane, looking out the window knowing that below us is the great big Atlantic Ocean.
Being homeless is a fear, but it's also a great feeling. We have this thrill knowing that we’re free. We don’t have rent or electricity to pay each month. We don’t have to sweep a patio, clean a toilet and tub or wipe down the stove. We’ve always prided ourselves in being minimalistic, and able to get up and go with little effort. We’ve looked at our friends’ homes and have been glad we don’t have 2,000 square feet of stuff to keep us tied down. But, we still had 600 square feet of stuff…our stuff. While we could fit a majority of it in a car, or all of it in a ten foot U-Haul, it was still a tether. Now, we have two backpacks that we can throw on our backs at a moment’s notice and take off. We’re now prepared to take advantage of any opportunity. The world is ours to explore. We have a freedom we’ve never had.
Beyond the Hotels and Attractions
We’re not doing the average 2-week vacation type of travel. This means we get to explore more than the hotels and the tourist attractions. We look forward to getting off the beaten path and exploring each city and learning about it less as a visitor and more as a temporary local. We’ve always traveled with a sense of vigor that is extreme for most, exploring a place to its fullest, with the idea that we may never return. However, we’ve never had a true sense of experiencing the community of a location. We both look forward to sharing time, meals and experiences with the local community; getting to know them and their culture. More than anything, learning from them and expanding our understanding of the world and humanity.
Most people tend to live for themselves and rarely see beyond their family and friends. Their lives are typically contained to a small radius. As we travel we plan to expand our radius dramatically through help exchanges and volunteering. We want to learn to farm, both agricultural and animal farming. We want to build and construct. We want to do things selflessly, giving of our talents and knowledge freely, likely learning more than we teach. We expect to grow in a manner that’ll result in changing and evolving over the next year. The anticipation drives and pushes us to continue on this adventure, even when the road gets bumpy and tough.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
We've been dreaming of this life change, working towards it for years. To be here is surreal. We’re free of our stuff, and soon we’ll be on the road and traveling. We’re currently saying goodbye to our friends and family along the way to our final destination (Southern California) before leaving for Ireland. Shannon seems to have this sense of awe more so than Sergio, as she expresses it much more often. She often can’t stop thinking about it, how things are going to change and how they already have. It’s a sense of accomplishment, pride and joy. Together, we’ve managed to create an incredible opportunity in our lives. Something many people only dream of.
Being homeless for us is an accomplishment. It’s freedom to the open road and the world. We made choices over the last few years in the aim of being ‘homeless’ and saying goodbye to traditional obligations. We think, it’s even most accurate to claim the all too cliché saying that our home is where the heart is.