Gypsy Bohemia

A house on 3rd street at the Village in Perry Point contains a white board, and on that board is a message to whomever enters the house:

Not all who wander are lost.

That quote is part of a greater message of J.R.R Tolkien. He writes:

All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.


Most applicable to my life, however, is that one line I found scribbled in a house occupied by 6 or 7 AmeriCorps members.

I've chosen this life, and a peculiar one it is. I doubt that my explanations will ever reveal the extent to which this experience has changed me-- opened my eyes, introduced me to new experiences, and challenged my beliefs.

For a summary, I left Utah the second week of January and since then have been stationed in no one place longer than 6 consecutive weeks. I have lived in 8 different cities (7 different states) and traveled through & visited many, many more. These experiences have all been shared with a team, the smallest being my regular team of only 10 people, the largest being a group of 30 leaders and 100 teens. I have not stayed on the same team for more than 10 consecutive weeks. In the entirety of this program my longest break has been 7 days-- once. Everything else has been a typical 2 day weekend, plus some holidays, or depending on the project a 0 or 1 day weekend. I worked through all 3 of my scheduled AmeriCorps vacation weeks. My maximum amount of hours clock in 7 days is 119.5. I have not spent 24 consecutive hours alone since I left Utah in January.

I live, breathe, eat, laugh, and cry AmeriCorps. Communal living is now my expertise and I am an extremely adaptable person, capable of living in a variety conditions. I have camped, lived in a warehouse, slept in a meeting room at county fairgrounds with 10 other people on a cot no wider than my hips, supervised & lived in university dorms, and even lived in the basement of a pro shop at a golf course.

$4.50 a day is my food allotment. Generally we grocery shop communally, although I have learned to use that amount of money to my advantage and sometimes shop alone on a weekly basis. $31.50 a week for food can guarantee me 3 pieces of fresh fruit per day, a bowl of fiber one with soy milk in the morning, a peanut butter & honey sandwich on wheat/grain bread, an afternoon snack like almonds or a luna bar, and a healthy dinner with loads of vegetables and some sort of non-animal protein like black beans. I suppose if it weren't for the honey my weekly meal plan would be rather vegan.

When I make the choice to leave my housing I must always consider what impact this will have on my teammates. We are not allowed to drive a vehicle alone and we always need approval from our leader before heading out. We share house keys, all 10 of us. I must be sure to arrange entering the house upon my return, take my cell phone, or somehow obtain keys.

Work can be monotonous, challenging, hilarious and depressing. I have participated in a very wide variety of tasks and have learned the best way to live life is with laughter.


Hats off to myself, please. I'm going to go ahead and say I've done something spectacular. Praising myself may seem a bit egotistical but I never dreamed NCCC would be so challenging in so many different ways. I may have spent these last 9 months wandering, but I am definitely not lost. I just don't know where I am going. I embrace wherever life takes me.

Comments

  1. You've learned such wonderful lessons. It will be amazing to see how they come up again and again in your life. It seems that each season in our lives is meant to prepare us for another and the lessons we learn are only truly learned when they are tested again in another season.

    I meant to call you today but keep forgetting I'm on the west coast. I'm planning on your bday weekend, either meeting you guys in NYC or just seeing you at my place. Will and I are excited to have houseguests!!!

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