Letter On A Lifestyle Change

Dear X,

I’m sitting in Montreal right now – heading toward New York and it strikes me this might be my last nomadic travel for some time. Nomadic being in the sense that I am traveling between two places, neither of which is my home. After New York, I’ll be going to Chicago where I’ll stay for some time — punctuated, perhaps, by vacations away from there but always, at least while I have my job, to return.

In some way, this is the last leg of a lifestyle i’ve had for half of a decade. No home, no direction to one, No same bed in same neighborhood to burrow back after the hard times. The road became a friend, a confidant, and somehow a singular place to be.

Those were the scenes in my life these last years. Always changing — transitions of airports and packed bags. Goodbye waves and hello hugs. A coffee shop where no one knows my name or my story.

What lies ahead in this new life? I have no idea, but it’s worth thinking about, And this is my method. It comes to you because in some way I’ve always felt you were a champion, one of the greatest, of that old life and my hope is that I’m not letting you down. or letting down myself.

What you should know is that I’m more nervous than ever. Anxiety was always a cool distance away from me, but now I can feel it. The unknown. The hypotheticals that spin around and create worlds that will never exist, but who is to know that now.

It is, however, in this feeling that I’ve found excitement too. And strength. Kerouac, if I remember correctly, in the opening of The Subterraneans called this his “nervous orientation”.

And what that’s predicated upon is a newness.

It used to be that traveling gave me a newness, that before each flight I felt a nervousness. A new place. A new office. A new life I could set up if I was staying for some time. In some places, a new language and culture and parks to walk in on afternoons I wanted to step away from the computer.

But that stopped. Somewhere I grew comfortable in the unknown, content in moving from place to place, almost bored in some moments. What I certainly felt also was some loneliness and the long-termness of that often was hard to handle. I’m an extrovert in so many ways, and, though I’ve grown to love some introversive parts of myself, I crave others to be with, talk with, sleep with.

I had some of this everywhere I went, but it was never a guarantee. Always a question mark. For years, I saw the question mark as my embodiment. I lived it. It’s answer became my intention. Now, I am not so sure it is the symbol of ME, though I do not know what it is. So the question mark exists — but as a pre-front to the mission.

What’s coming next is exciting, both in its asking (professional work) and the opportunity of something drastic and new. Sitting down. Settling for a moment. Catching my breath and become a citizen of a place. I have no insight into how long that will last — or even how long I hope it does — but it’s an opportunity for newness and uniqueness, and those have always been my battle cry of life.

Somewhere, on some soft winter day, when the winds are staining me with cold, I know that travel bug will creep in. I know it’ll sit in the knots of my stomach, clawing at its sides, telling me to find the nearest highway and just go. The thoughts of freedom, when you don’t think you have it, are infinite and large. Powerful beyond any means, I imagine. It’s why so many billions of people have dreamt that dream. I will never claim to know that battle they fight, but I too seek freedom in my own way.

And, for us, our friendship. Well I hope it doesn’t ruin me for you. Hope it doesn’t scatter my image if that image was a traveler, a nomad, a do-it-by-his-own terms kind of guy. I don’t know what the image you have of me is and that’s a good thing — we should be allowed to construct others in the image we hope, so long as our expectations that they too are their own construct are not limited — but I hope it persists to be positive and inspiring. I hope there is still love for me in my pursuits and encouragement and not an end or destruction. I do not think there will be but it is with words I can extol my desires.

And so that it shall be. Gone, for now, are the days of reeling around Brooklyn or Buenos Aires, or reeling around at all. I am committed to finding happiness in this stage of my life, as I will with all future stages. And in the change, I’ll find both good and bad. I know this ahead of time, but keeping this intelligence on an even keel will be a battle. And when that travel bug runs itself up into my mind, I’ll do my best to remember that my previous lifestyle, too, had its good and bad.

What I’m certain to never forget is simple, however: you and the other friends I’ve been allowed into the hearts of along the traveling way, were always the best of the whole damn thing.

With admiration, always —

Eric Grant

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