A new year and lots of change to come. Traveling… I have travelled a lot and moved a lot over my lifetime. My existence has become nomadic. It feels like I am only in a place for a short while before uprooting to a new destination. Work was the culprit for years, but the desire to be on the move was not completely kept down by the pandemic with trips to the wilderness to compensate for the closing in walls.
Nomads fit in with my protagonists since they are all loners to one degree or another—an only child syndrome for sure. For thirteen years, I worked in marketing and traveled to rodeos and concerts across the country. The thought of the road almost makes me want to get an actual map and put the red pins in it to see the places I have been. (This was something kids did way before the internet.) There is something about the ritual of traveling that is addictive. The packing and flying or driving to a destination, the quality, or lack thereof, of a hotel, and the first alone moments to walk and explore new places. In historic areas, natures preserves, small towns, and big cities there is nothing quite like taking a walk to get in touch with the area—to truly experience it. More of a connection is made by being there in the moment than from being inside a car with the radio on with the world passing by outside a thick windshield.
Another connection to nomads is the one to my stories. Even writing fiction, I write what I know when possible. So seeing a place first-hand is important to add to the memory banks for the moment a character may end up in a similar place. My first novella, Where the Road Roams, has places I have been to, including the the Montrose neighborhood of Houston and Billings, MT. Montana also inspired Escape from Dolphin Street from a true crime story I read in the Billings newspaper when I was working at Yellowstone National Park. (I guess crazy street punks are everywhere.) Wild Boys takes inspiration from the time I lived in New Mexico and drove to Cloudcroft and other Billy the Kid sites. I think seeing the world in a nomadic way is important for the descriptions of locations in writing. Details make a difference.
This blog may seem a bit rambling, but it reflects the unease and stirring I feel to roam again as I write this on the anniversary of January 6th. I was living in Washington D.C. during that time of insurrection. Afterwards, the experience of being in walking distance of the Capital and White House changed with military checkpoints and barbed wire fences that was what I imagined Eastern Europe to be like in the 80s towards the end of the Cold War. It was good to move out of there, but perhaps not far enough.
What happens this year? I don’t know. Ideas are forming and another move is possible. Like some of my ancestors long ago, I think I will go west in search of open space and freedom.
Nomads roam and so do I.
Post Script: I have acquired a copy of Nomads by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. It is the novel the 1986 film is based on—the one with Pierce Bronson vs a gang of nomadic punks. The paperback I found is one from the 80s and is cool in that I never got around to reading it as a teenager.