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Nomad Life

I have earth-shattering news.  I have a home.

Have you picked your jaw up off the floor?

I’ve been waiting to post this update for a couple of months, as I was planning to include pictures and wanted to have the place looking decent!  However, I’ve been busy lately with other changes in my life, which I’ll share with you in the near future, so when my place is nice enough to grace the pages of Domino (I miss that magazine!) you’ll find them here.

First things first.  I’ll explain how it happened.  When I began my nomadic venture this past November, I wanted to find a permanent home that fit my needs, rather than jumping into the first thing that was available.  I wanted the right size, price, and location, and at the time had expressed interest in a job on my team located in Chicago, so I wanted to remain flexible and avoid a lease at all costs.

One of my very generous friends is a pilot, and I often crashed at his apartment when he was on trips during my extended nomadness.  Lucky for me, he had the opportunity to “upgrade” apartments in his complex and moved into a one-bedroom, one-bathroom place with new hardwood floors, granite countertops, vaulted ceilings, and a spare room.  Guess who is living in spare?  That’s right- yours truly!

The situation is perfect for me.  (I hope my roommate says the same!)  The location is perfect, space is just right, and my rent is priced accordingly, so I’m still able to stock away savings every paycheck.  We rarely cross paths so it’s a pretty low-maintenance relationship.

Here’s a drawing of my floor plan.  (Curious about the awkward shape?  In other apartments, this is a porch.  On the top floor where our apartment is, it’s a room.)  I estimate it’s about 100 square feet.  (It’s difficult to measure.  I tried.)  The only pieces of furniture I bought were my bed and side table.  I’d been storing the bulk of my clothes on a rolling rack in my boyfriend’s garage, so I simply transported it to my new room.  In addition to the rolling rack, the small closet provides all the space I need for my down-sized wardrobe.  My roommate found a plastic shelving unit by our complex’s dumpster, and it was the ideal size to store my workout clothes.

With this move, I’ve transitioned to a new personal challenge- micro living.  I’m obsessed with the idea and have read a ton of interesting articles on how individuals, couples, and families make this work.  (Read about it yourself here, here, and here.)  It stresses organization and efficient use of space.  A common theme with micro-livers is their disregard for material possessions and the high value they put on time, freedom, and money, which all increase exponentially in a micro living lifestyle.

I think it’s easy to see that I’m benefiting greatly from this arrangement- my overhead is still extremely low, but I have a tiny spot in the world to call my own.  I couldn’t be more grateful!

Today was a glorious day in Norman, Oklahoma.  The University of Oklahoma‘s graduates of the class of 2011 were awarded their diplomas!  My baby bro Nicholas was one of them, receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art from OU’s prestigious Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts!  Hooray!  I can’t help but brag about him.  Nicholas’ talents range from graphic design to photography to painting…  I could go on, but you can see for yourself here: http://thetoltec.wordpress.com.  Nicholas is working as a camp counselor this summer but will be available for hire in the fall.  (Shameless plug, I know!  That’s what good sisters do.)  Congrats, Nicholas!  We are so proud of you!

Nicholas and Sarah, his adorable girlfriend

I was honored to be invited to the ceremony, BUT I admit I’m not a fan of graduations.  Most people can probably relate.  I didn’t even want to go to my own college graduations (yes, there were two of them) but my parents kindly insisted.  As the benefactors of my education (for which I am forever grateful), I couldn’t say no.  We sat through hours of pomp and circumstance, speeches, and loooong lines of graduates receiving their diplomas and hearty handshakes.  Now it was Nicholas’ turn to walk and my turn to take pictures.   In anticipation of a a long car ride and a good three solid hours sitting in an auditorium, my brain must have switched into “travel mode.”  Before we left the house, I grabbed a warm jacket, a blanket, four magazines, some bottled water, and quickly sliced a cucumber and threw some grape tomatoes in a plastic bag.

My nomadic habit

My dad looked over at me strangely in the middle of the ceremony and said, “You look like you’re on a plane.”  I had to laugh.  He was exactly right.  I am on planes quite frequently and after months of living nomadicly I’ve grown accustomed to carrying my stuff with me.  It feels natural to have extra clothes, snacks, and other creature-comfort things on hand.  I guess “being prepared” is a good thing, but today I may have crossed the line.  Who brings this much stuff with them to a graduation?

The Glam Nomad, that’ s who!

“There’s no place like home…”  Dorothy said it best.  No matter how old I get, I still feel like a kid when I visit my childhood home in Oklahoma City.  My parents’ house is uber-cozy and relaxing and my mom goes above and beyond to make her kids feel welcome.  We even get turn-down service before bed, complete with a chocolate mint on our pillows!

On Friday night I took a quick flight to OKC to my parents’ place.  They’ve done a great job updating their home over the past few years, most recently redecorating their living room.  I love what my mom did in my bedroom- there are nods to old memories (framed photos, yearbooks on the shelves, my favorite stuffed animal) but the decor is much more chic today than when I was in charge of decorating!  Here’s a what it looked like from sixth grade until about four years ago…

I think I was in eighth grade in this picture.  Look how focused I am on my homework!  (haha)  Notice the gaudy wall paper and coordinating carpet.  Don’t you love the fake quilt with the marble effect?  If you look closely at the heart-shaped bedside table, you’ll see a scrunchy next to a cassette!  My Pound Puppy and Beanie Baby collection is proudly displayed on my window sill between random stickers of a happy face and a hand with a peace sign.  Oh, the nineties!

Aaaaaahhhh, that’s better. Neutral cream, soft lighting, and a real quilt.  This room is still my little sanctuary, although the twin bed is smaller than I remember it!  No matter how stressed out I am about work, life, etc, a visit home usually does the trick!  Thanks Mom and Dad!  xoxo

Even though I’m “sacrificing” an hour of sleep each night, I’m SO EXCITED we sprung forward on Sunday morning!  I get to see the light of day when I leave work and I feel motivated to get things accomplished in the evenings.  The weather is getting warmer and it’s made nomadic life a lot easier, with rummaging through the trunk of my car, lugging around bags, etc- not so much fun in the cold and dark.  The trees around my office are blooming, making for a lovely commute in the mornings and evenings, and they’re so beautiful I felt compelled to take some photos when I left work today.

Loving the redbuds, the state tree of Oklahoma!  Hope everyone is enjoying the amazing weather!

This month is my fifth month of nomadness.  The past two months, I’ve been feeling ready to settle down into a conventional living situation but have refrained due to a gut feeling that now isn’t the right time to get into a lease.  To help myself keep the momentum going, I’ve comprised a list of the benefits of being electively homeless.  In case you’re considering this path (or are wondering why the heck I’m still doing it), here’s what all of you potential nomads have to look forward to:

1.  There are no bills to pay.  (I’m FINALLY building up my bank account!)

2.  There are no chores to be done.  (Although, I clean up my friends’ bathrooms when it’s needed.)

3.  There is more money to spend treating your friends.  (Buying them dinner/drinks is a great way to thank them for crashing at their places.)

4.  It allows more money and more reasons to travel.

5.  It forces you to evaluate what you really need to live every day.

6.  You learn to become more flexible and to “go with the flow.”

7.  It frees you to seize an opportunity to move to a new city (something I wasn’t open to this time last year when I had an awesome house and roommate that I didn’t want to part with).

8.  It allows you to start fresh.  (I sold everything I own so I’m forced to start from scratch when I get a place in the future.)

9.  You have more reasons to see your friends.

10.  You gain appreciation for basic needs like having a roof over your head.

11.  You become more self-reliant.

12.  You learn to be more organized.

The great thing about being a nomad is it’s easier to go back to having a place than it is to become a nomad.  If and when you take the leap, you’re committing to not committing, and you can commit to something else at any point.  For those who are considering nomadness for a short-term lifestyle, you can always put your belongings in storage rather than selling them.  If you ever have the opportunity, go for it.  It’s a unique, challenging situation and there’s nothing like feeling this free.

Alright, I’ve pumped myself up enough.  I think I can go for another month…  🙂

Maybe it’s the chilly weather and lack of sunlight bringing on my annual winter blues, but going into my third month as a nomad, it’s beginning to wear me down.  The novelty and some of the excitement are gone.  The cold makes accessing the items in my car annoying.  I’m tired of thinking about what I’m going to wear days in advance.  (My previously chic nomad look has become repetitious as I’m getting lazy about digging through my rolling rack of clothes, still in my boyfriend’s garage.)

There are a lot of things I really miss about having my own place, like recording trashy reality TV shows and watching them with my old roommate on lazy Saturday mornings.  I miss leaving messy art projects on my dining room table.  I miss hosting house parties.  I miss my old house!  I miss my old routines!  (Gasp!)

Of course I’ve contemplated returning to my former, more conventional lifestyle, but I have too many solid reasons to keep on truckin, such as:

  1. I haven’t saved as much money as I should have.  (Oops!)  I’ve managed to stay out of credit card debt; does that count for anything?
  2. Life in general feels “temporary” right now for several reasons, so my gut tells me not to settle down in one spot for the time being.
  3. I have a unique opportunity to continue, and it could possibly be the only time in my life when I can, so I should suck it up and do it while the tools are at my fingertips.

Perusing through past posts makes me wonder if this blog portrays my life as more glamorous than it actually is.  It’s fun to share hotel reviews, restaurant recos, and pretty pictures.  I seldom make note of delayed flights, crowded airports, and long work days because I don’t want to belabor you with boring details!  However, it’s important that this chronicle is an honest rendering of my life as a nomad so I intend share the obstacles of my journey as they come.

I have been incredibly fortunate that my current “problem” is my own irritation!  My friends, boyfriend, and family have been supportive of this whacky idea the whole way through, so my plan is to hold out until the universe works its magic and I find out what/where I’m supposed to be.  The most exciting part is not knowing what the future will hold.  I have a feeling 2011 is going to be an interesting year!