I’m going to tell this story first, because it’s fresh in my mind. It’s not where this journey began, but it’s important, because it was the moment I realized that “going nomad” isn’t just a crazy plan in my head – it’s a time-honored tradition for those of us who crave the experience and wonder that only exploration can bring.
Last night I emailed my building management, and notified them that I wouldn’t be renewing my lease in February. I also bought my first ticket, to Phoenix on March 1, 2021. I thought I’d wake up this morning feeling nervous, maybe a bit panicked.. instead I was buzzing with energy.
I was scheduled to go into the office this morning, to meet one of my team members and work on some shipping and logistics items. Since the pandemic closed the office in March, I have taken Lyft each time I’ve had to go in (5 times so far). It is the lowest-exposure way to make the trip, and I’m often carrying several laptops, as I was this morning.
I ordered a Lyft to Bethesda, and went down to wait by the curb.
Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel was playing. Harvest asked if that was all right, remarking that it had been 10 years since Michael’s death.
We made small talk from there – I said that I’d first heard Michael Jackson sing at my Grandparents’ home, when my uncle played a song by the Jackson 5, and that I remembered seeing the Thriller music video.
Harvest said, “I remember when I first saw Thriller.. I was traveling. They were just going nuts over it everywhere I went.”
He’d been in Korea, Australia and New Zealand while Thriller was rocking the charts. He continued listing off other countries he’d visited.. Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Brazil.. He’d been to nearly half of the countries on the planet. I asked how he’d come to travel so much, and then… the Universe delivered a message.
“Well, I had been making good money in San Francisco in the ’90’s, so I and a friend just decided to take a year or two and see the world. Got rid of our places, drove down to LA and flew to Club Med to kick it all off. Spent the next couple years just traveling the world.”
I was briefly dumbstruck. This man had done almost exactly what I’m going to do (but with a higher budget) back when I was in high school.
I told him about my plan, and canceling my lease. He was instantly so enthusiastic and excited. We spent the rest of the now-too-short ride discussing his experiences, and how mine might be different, or similar. We talked about the stress of possessions, and about living each day as it comes. It was validating on a level that I can’t adequately express in words – thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes.
As I got out of his car in front of the office, he gave me one last piece of advice..
“Just do it, young man. You will never regret it.”
The Scruffy Nomad