Sunday, May 6, 2018

5 Year Anniversary of Our Nomadic Life

Housesit at dusk (taken by our friend Roger).
Five years ago this month we left home to alternative life.

We're kind of nomads (although we've spent long periods in many places).

We're kind of house-free (although after living for a year without a house, we bought a place in Mexico).

We're kind of travelers (although traveling suggests a trip outside of your normal life...and travel is our normal life).

We're kind of retired from academia and the corporate world (although I do online editing and writing coaching, and I taught in China and Thailand; and Dave is currently involved in a tech startup).

We're certainly housesitters (we have done 19 housesits in 5 years).

It's a free-form life that has blossomed in ways we hadn't anticipated when we left Santa Cruz in 2013.
Hiking on the housesit property with Marilen, Roger & Gracie.
One of the biggest surprises is that we spend so much quality time with friends and family. I'd thought by leaving California we were, in essence, saying goodbye. But as it turns out, we come through California a lot.

And when we do, no one takes it for granted that we will see each other in the hallway at work or will gather for Christmas dinner. So we make sure to connect. We luxuriate in spending time together in a way that the rushed let's-do-lunch-next-week lifestyle doesn't accommodate.

Beautiful brunch with friends in San Jose
We keep our car and some extra gear at our friend Mark's house in San Jose. "Our room" is his spare room. His neighbors Todd and Jackie have become good friends. Recently, we were hanging out in Mark's back yard when Jackie came by, panicked. Their dog sitter had fallen ill, and in two days they were scheduled to go on a cruise.

Because our plans were in flux, it was perfect timing. We offered to care for Sammy for 2 weeks. So housesit #19 happened spontaneously. As did another Golden Retriever; we had just taken care of one for 2 1/2 months on a housesit in Forest Ranch, California.

The sunset spot.
In Forest Ranch, we had five waves of visitors. With our friends, we walked the trails, played music, made food, played Cards Against Humanity, and conversed into the night serenaded by frogs in the backyard pond.

One of Dave's amazing shots.
Forest Ranch may be a small community, but it's filled with people who love live music. While there, we attended two private house concerts. They were cozy potlucks and incredible shows.
At a house party featuring a musician who used to play with Jerry Garcia.
We were also able to meet up with a woman who was a friend of my parents. I hadn't seen Barbara in many years. Turns out, she plays in a uke group. It doesn't get much better than people of all ages (some in their 80s and 90s) playing music and singing together. Like church without dogma.

This trip through California meant connecting with my parents in another way. When they died, upon their request, we mixed their ashes and buried 1/3 in the local cemetery and released 1/3 into the San Francisco Bay. The last portion has been in my sister Crystal's house for years. It was time to cast them into the vast, ancient beauty that is Yosemite National Park, the place they met.

With Evan and Crystal in Yosemite
The symbolism ran deep: Their grandson Evan (Crystal's son) carried the ashes on his back as we hiked on a crystalline-sky day. Into the rushing waters, we released the final flecks of our beloved parents' bodies.

In two days, Dave turns 60. The next day, we will be back in our car, carried along the length of California and beyond. Everything is movement, everything is change. I deeply experience this truth as a traveling soul.