Home: Six weeks at Justin’s AirBNB house
How to live through winter as nomads? Roughly, the solution is to act as nomads have for millennia: use our unrooted-ness to our advantage, and as the days shorten, move to locations with more-hospitable climates. In retrospect, that “surviving winter” imperative has had the biggest influence on our global routing ideas. It’s what pushed us southward from the start. And, since well before that start, we’ve been telling people that we hope to spend our second winter in New Zealand, flipping the hemispheres, while our for first winter we would somehow “hang out” in Southern California.
I recalled, in those early-planning days, browsing AirBNB’s listings for monthly rentals in Southern California, and being surprised at how relatively-reasonable the prices were. So “just stopping for a month” had always been a possibility in my mind. While it was Rett’s painful back that was “forcing” us to stop, and thus it initially felt to her like it was her “fault” for changing our plans, it was good to remember that what we were doing was entirely within the scope of what we’d planned.
Justin’s house was a weird AirBNB rental, with poor definition between public and private things, paint-splattered and appliance-light from seemingly being in mid-renovation, and “cleaned by a guy” (as Rett liked to say). But the location was a mile from downtown, the two-bedroom, two-bath setup gave us a luxurious amount of space with easy use of our bikes, and the price was reasonable, so we decided that it was worth it to put in a couple days of hard work to whip it into shape, and reap the benefits over the rest of our stay.
The first week or two remained abnormally cold and wet, so in retrospect, staying put under a roof would have been the ideal choice even if Rett had been completely healthy. We were able to get her started on physical therapy, and then, as things warmed up, able to restart short rides (10 miles, at first) in sunny shorts-weather while most other places in the country were undergoing a far harsher form of winter.
We fell into routines, of grocery shopping, cooking, washing dishes, physical therapy, watching a nightly movie together, and playing Wordle. In a surprising way, it’s probably the most typical “retired life” we’ve styled in the near-year that we’ve both been retired. It also was an opportunity to take care of a lot of business that we never had time to settle in our rush to get on the road in September.
We did punctuate the routine with some more-exciting events, like going out on-the-town to ring in the New Year (after a mid-evening nap), heading up the mountain road to Big Bear when Rett’s friend Sandy came up from San Diego to visit for a couple days, and getting our COVID-19 booster shots.
It was months ago, in Oakland, when Rett was struck with the fact that she was living in California. Well, now “living in California” has graduated from an expression of a feeling to a nearly literal truth. Originally booked for a month, we extended our stay for two more weeks, as directed by Rett’s slowly-improving but still-not-100% back. That gave plenty of time for Justin’s house to start feeling like “our house”, and Redlands to start feeling like “our town”.
Which made it really difficult to move on. Inertia is a heavy thing. When we were rolling, the previous day’s riding would propel us into the next. Even when we’d take several days off, we still felt the rhythms of onward momentum pulsing. But after six weeks off, those rhythms had faded to silence, and our inertia was now keeping us immobile, with equivalent strength.
For Rett, the apprehension was coming from a specific source, namely, fear that her physical pain would return. For me, it was a more generalized fear of leaving a safe-space, and heading out into the unprotected unknown. Oddly, I felt the fear even more strongly than when we originally became nomadic in September, when we disposed of most our our possessions (including our car), ended our lease, and leaped into the unknown. Now, with three months of successfully transiting our way down an entire edge of the United States under our belts, why did leaving feel even scarier than it did before we’d gained that confidence-building experience? My only guess is that we were so busy back in September preparing to leave that we had no time to let doubt creep in. This time, there wasn’t much else to do but think about it.
But thinking about it also reminds us that most fears are overblown, and can prevent us from experiencing our greatest joys. So, with nervousness but hope, and with care but confidence, we’ll be gradually re-establishing ourselves as “objects in motion” rather than “objects at rest”. Pushing the pedals to turn the cranks to get us moving southwards again, towards San Diego. And if the motion feels good, across the Mexican border into Baja California.