Or, a rant about almost everything.
My boyfriend and I have been traveling full time for five months now. No matter where we end up, it seems like we always have a sign on our backs that reads “Not locals.” We’ve pretty much resigned to giving our last residency in Golden, CO, when inevitably asked “Where are you from?”
It’s one of those polite yet meaningless questions that shop clerks ask without caring about the answer. Sure, patiently waiting out their confused facial expressions and answering the inevitable questions while somehow avoiding condescension—actually it isn’t a van, yes we still have to work, no there isn’t a house to go back to—could maybe lead to a deeper connection with a kindred spirit. But that’s like spilling your guts to the cashier when they offhandedly ask if there’s anything else they can help you with while ringing up your asparagus.
I mean, even people we know don’t quite understand that we don’t live in a fixed location in the trailer. People who know we quit our full-time jobs can’t wrap their heads around the fact that our bills didn’t disappear and we still have to work, just on the internet now. Even booking a spot in an RV park regularly requires you to give an address.
Ahh, the antiquated address. I never thought that much of it—before we had to pay a service to give us an address that we use when someone requests it so they can send us mail that the service then forwards to a location we specify. For this to work we need to give them somewhere to forward it. This requires us to know where we’re going to be at least a week in advance—no small feat for people who often move according to the whims of weather and WiFi connectivity. And we better hope we specify the right post office (because for some reason they don’t all accept general delivery) so we can pick up what usually isn’t even important mail in the first place. And by the way, have you ever tried to find information or phone numbers for individual post offices online? I recommend you don’t. Ever.
None of the research I did prepared me for how often I’ve needed to pull out the picture of our mailing address and unconvincingly copy it down to some unnecessary form. Hello, grocery store discount card. And good luck with a driver’s license, health insurance, car and trailer insurance and registration, taxes, online shopping, any subscription service, the gas station card reader that asks for your zip code, and even your damn LinkedIn page.
None of the research prepared me for how securing a mailing address would make me feel more insecure than ever. I mean, I wouldn’t have to think twice about any of this if I wasn’t homeless now.
It’s not that being able to answer “Where are you from?” is important. It’s the implication I should be from somewhere. It’s the awkwardness I feel when I lie and answer Golden, CO, and hope they won’t ask any more questions. It’s the reminder that I don’t fit in in this community or any other. It’s the frustration and embarrassment of struggling to give an answer most people can spit out automatically. It’s knowing my lifestyle falls so outside the norm that I don’t even try to explain it to my closest friends anymore. After all, who am I to poke holes in my dream life of which so many people claim to be jealous. Right?