A few months ago I decided that I was getting too comfortable. At the time, I was living by myself in a three-bedroom apartment, which worked relatively well for the 2020 lockdown. I’d turned the guest room into a little bit of a personal makerspace/office and amassed a stash of plenty of art supplies, half-finished projects, and tech gadgets.
In January, I decided I should buy a home. I need a shop. Somewhere with a garage – that didn’t have pristine hardwood floors – a place to weld and build. so I figured out a deposit, got a realtor, and began the home buying process.
Meanwhile, my landlord informed me that she’d be selling my apartment. My lease wasn’t going to be extended – I had to move come the end of March.
So what did I decide to do?
I did not buy a house. Instead, I ran off to Mexico. I ran off to Mexico with a delightful, newly nomadic gentleman on a complete whim and I began to let go of the idea of home in a place overrun with developers and investors.
Digital Nomad. That’s what he calls himself. I love this title and I’m stealing it.
Two months after Mexico, I’m sitting in a gorgeous mostly empty house that isn’t mine. I’m staring at the window working on a laptop, working at a job I have held for years that is suddenly 100 percent remote, watching desert birds drink water out of a bird bath. There’s a mountain peak in the distance. There are wild horses all over the place and the sunsets are magical, to say the least. I’m here by myself – in the quiet, in the desert.
Ask 20 year old me – the 38-year-old version of Jenn was going to have a house, a husband, a couple of kids, and a dog.
What life gives you is often not what you want. I can’t say it’s exactly what you need – it’s just how things go.
Back home I had bid on a few houses – and after falling short several times in a hot market, I began to think that perhaps Nashville isn’t the right place for me. I caught myself saying it to people out loud – I didn’t want to be there anymore.
And I realized as I was road tripping west Thelma-and-Louise-style with an friend who needed an adventure, that I’m not exactly sure where the right place is for me, yet.
Big. Crazy. Art.
At the moment, I’m technically homeless, but I am not really worried about that at all.
I could go out and get an apartment or try again at buying a house, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to do that.
I moved to Nashville to help out a friend during a hard time. The pain of losing someone you love is unbearable. She needed some support and I needed a change at the time. She was the only person I knew in that city when I moved to the South. In the seven years I lived there, I made a lot of friends. We did some really great things with very few resources.
I’ll certainly come back and work on projects here and there and visit, but Nashville doesn’t quite feel like home and I’m in no rush to figure out what does.
I recently listened to a podcast where they discussed how the people who are happiest often take a long time through transitional phases of life. In other words, they don’t rush through big life decisions. And that said to me that it’s ok that I don’t know every detail of what I want yet.
I do know that I want the sort of life that you read about with fascination. I want to make time for things that others don’t prioritize; to make art that outlives me by several generations. And also to have a million crazy, unbelievable-but-true stories to tell when I’m too old and frail to walk, if I’m lucky to make it to that age.
My best friends know that you don’t have to ask me twice to get in the car and drive 16 hours across multiple states to go see someone’s art installation. I never thought I would be “this sort of person”, but now I’m actively looking at camper vans. I’m out to learn new things, meet artists and master craftspeople, become a better welder, imagine sculptures and large-scale works, and figure out how to live cheaply.
I think the main goal at the moment is to live well and save a bit. Look for a good place to start a studio – and all the while, make big, crazy, metal art.
Fortunately, the Southwest has no shortage of metal sculptures and beautiful places. I’ve never been here just to visit, and I’m thankful to have made the journey with a friend. She who is the sort that is delighted to stop off and see the oddities along the freeway, even if we get in late because of it.
We found more than a few pieces that are interesting along the way from Nashville to Denver to Albuquerque. Somewhere around St. Louis, I decided to document as many as I could and learn about the sculptors and fabricators who made them.
This is a trip where I’m am actively trying to learn from the places and spaces around me, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be on it.