Some people are natural nomads. Ask them how long they’ve lived in one place, and they might say dismissively, “Oh, I’ve been renting here for a year now! I’m SO boring.” They have no problem packing up their livelihood and taking off without a job or a loved one waiting on the other end. They don’t like to invest in furniture – or are industrious in scouting out the best deals on storage. They’re great at forging friendships and maintaining them with the ease of a key stroke across the world. Like carnies, these nomads see opportunity where others find nothing but a cold, lonely terrain, whether in a dessert or a shining metropolis.
One would think that immigration would provide all the necessary hazing to a future nomad. Hey, you’ve extricated yourself from your homeland, language, friends, and family and refashioned yourself to fit the new norm. Shouldn’t that make you immune to moving, turn you into a constant seeker of that proverbial “home”?
I find the opposite is true. Like many expats, I fret over losing the little nests I’ve woven along the way. What, packing AGAIN? Taking the curtains down AGAIN? Another goodbye party? Every open suitcase sends me into fits. People have to remind me, “You’re just going on vacation to Hawaii!” or “It’s only for a year!” Oh, right. Home. It stays, then. PHEW!
The expats are a nervous bunch. They suffer from separation anxiety. They’re the people who’ll turn into your grandparents and beg you to call (or text) when you get home after a long journey. They fret over breaking human bonds, persecution, and road mines (In California, mind you). It takes them a while to settle into new routines, to stop drinking and belting out nostalgic songs about the old ways when the midnight melancholy strikes. But once they settle in, they tend to stay.
So be it. The expats are worriers. But in the end, they’re the ones who will keep the light on for you. They’re the ones who will not forget a birthday. The ones who can make a home out of a cardboard box or a moldy hotel room. Better than anyone, they’ll pitch that traveling circus tent, filled with tea, stories, and the soothing, dopey-eyed notion that it’s as permanent as it gets, for now.