Notes From The Road III: Strangers On The Road.
Graaff-Reinet made me walk away with a warm heart humming in my chest, although it’s often the case with these small towns.
It’s also here where someone asked me, after overhearing me tell the story of who I am, what I do and why I’m in town for the third time that evening, if it gets boring telling the story again and again. I replied; “Sometimes yes, but I try to keep in mind that this is a new story to the stranger in front of me every time.” One that they can go on to tell long after our brief encounter ends.
You see, I’ve come to find, that despite meeting so many people on a day-to-day basis, living on the road can be an isolating experience. It leaves you unsettled in every way possible- a feeling that only sneaks up on you when you look down the next street and realise you’ve completely lost your way during your evening run, when you realise these new faces actually know nothing about you besides the brief, practiced conversation. It’s these moments where I need to remind myself that being unsettled was all part of the plan, that I’ve never really felt a sense of being settled before anyway.
When I hit the road, I made a commitment to be unsettled on purpose. For growth. I hit the road in the name of purposely stretching and challenging myself inside and out. I left because I wanted to reveal to myself where home truly exists.
Since then, I’ve come to learn that those places that feel like home isn’t a house, a town or a point on a map to me. Not even the Jeep itself, besides being the only constant thing I have in my life right now. Where I grew up didn’t feel like home, lately I’ve also been realising that it’s not on my own. It’s not something that inexplicably materialises from the air, suddenly spotted when you come around the next bend.
Thus far, the spaces that have made me jokingly exclaim; “Yeah, I think I might just buy a house here!” had the amalgamation of a lot of little things.
It’s my morning coffee routine, that remains the same wherever I am, it’s evening walks and that odd 15-minute gap I sneak in before bed to catch up on the book that I’m reading. It’s sitting in the first coffee shop I come across, because I simply “need” to get this bit of work done. It’s holding my camera. The Whatsapp message from a, now newfound, friend to check what my plans are for Friday evening. My lazy Sunday morning lie-inns that remain the same whether I’m waking up in a rooftop tent, 5-star hotel or that Airbnb I booked last minute. It’s popping in to the grocery store to buy things for tonight’s dinner recipe. It’s sunsets and the 30-minutes before that never ceases to make everything look inspiring.
These are the things that have come to feel like home to me. All things that aren’t tied to a location.
So yeah, I really don’t mind telling people about the trip, or that I’m out on my own and the concerned responses that often come from that. I’d even go as far as to say that I don’t mind the amount of times I’ve had to try my very best to explain to a Tannie in a small town how I make a living on the road. I don’t mind these things because I’m finally okay with not having an end goal after all of this. There’s no bigger plan. Where previously I felt I had to add “I’m actually just doing this trip to find a place to settle”, in the names of comforting confused strangers, even though settling was never part of the plan. I can finally look a stranger in the eyes and feel confident when I say I’m home right where I stand.
Here, a little wild, a little unsettled, and totally at home.