Rootlessness, I Fear, Is The Life For Me

Rootlessness by any name is a virtue in my book.

Rootlessness — call it nomadism, life without a permanent home, intentional wandering. Rootlessness is the real subject of my morning’s tête-à-tête with Mike, my partner.

“I knew after my knee surgeries, I’d feel off balance. I recognized ending my teaching contract would make me uneasy. And my son’s move to Colorado would make me feel lonely. But, I thought here, in our house with friends, pets, and you, I’d find solace. Instead, the last of our pets died and we just sold our house with no plans for another. You’re here, but I’m feeling pretty unsettled.”

Mike looked across the kitchen table at me, as if I had an answer to his discomfort.

I didn’t. His thoughts resulted from considerations we’d had for weeks, months, even years. We believed, ultimately, that our house unburdening would feel good, but for the moment . . . .

Three years ago in anticipation of Mike’s retirement, we scratched ideas into a lined composition book, red-penned parts of them, and then used black felt marker to note: “LATER!” Those moments felt different from now; some of those completed events had actually been ticked off the list.

[x] Right knee replacement
 [x] Left knee replacement
 [x] End work contract
 [x] Get rid of stuff
 [x] Sell house
 [ ] Travel

Mike felt as if he were edge teetering; I did too.

We’ve been at this spot of discomfort before — starting our non-profit in Haiti, moving to the fixer-upper fishing cabin, and buying a 1985 Volkswagen camper van. In each case, we weighed the risks and potential results; we pushed forward.

Arguments, cats, and friends have attended each step. There are no two people who argue more than Mike and I, yet we eventually arrive at agreement. When Mike has been my nemesis, the cat has been my soulmate; I shared with her after each volatile moment. And friends: They have recognized Mike and I often push our limits; they have encouraged, supported, and offered places to end up in case our decision is whoppingly bad.

This challenge, to eliminate most of our physical footprint and associated responsibilities, has a unique feel to it — rootlessness. I want to feel grounded yet desire to remove the objects that keep my feet on terra firma.

Rootlessness has history: hunter-gatherers were the first human adaptation towards taming nature. The contemporary version of the nomadic lifestyle is trendy. Mike and I have company with those encouraged to Couchsurf, an inexpensive way to stay with locals and make travel friends, be like Nomadic Matt (to travel better, cheaper, longer), or Roam (an international network of communal living spaces).

Meanwhile I use my computer to reify my existence. I scan supportive documents, create comforting links, and establish emergency protocols, locking them securely in the virtual cloud. I Skype over breakfast, mid-monring coffee, or early evening wine.

I look over the kitchen table. One of 15 travel books borrowed from the library has distracted Mike from his anxiety of rootlessness. He’s leafing through Lonely Planet’s guide to Morocco. Without looking up, he asks, “Did you know you can ski, surf, and camel trek all in this one North-African country?”

__________________________________________________________________Suggestions about rootlessness — where to go or how to manage it are always welcome by scrolling down to leave your comments or emailing

Judy O Haselhoef, a social artist, story-teller, and author of “GIVE & TAKE: Doing Our Damnedest NOT to be Another Charity in Haiti,” blogs regularly at her website,

Copyright @2016: If you’d like to use any part of it (up to 200 words), please give full attribution and this website,

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