I have been living a nomadic lifestyle for the past decade of my life. In the last ten years (starting fall 2003), I have moved a total of 13 times. That’s right I am averaging more than one move a year. It has made me realize that I am not attached to any community outside of my work community. The only time where I had this connection was when I was living and working in Baltimore as an undergraduate student and in my first professional role. I was fortunate to be in the city I grew up in and close to friends I had from college. Even thinking about that experience, I was not connected to the community. I was connected to friends and people; however, I was not a part of the town where I lived.
I found this briefly in graduate school, where I started to become more connected to the town through volunteering at different events. This was still tough as so much of the town functioned around the institution. I then moved to SF, which was amazing, but I never connected with the community. I spectated at a couple of big SF events (Pride & Bay to Breakers), but was not engaged with what was happening in the NoPa neighborhood.
After year one in CA, I moved closer to work to help reduce my commute. I become closer with some of the people I worked with, but again, I was not involved in the community I lived. I was more entrenched in my campus community and work life.
Now in FL, same story, just a different place. I have been in Jacksonville for almost 6 months now and know nothing beyond the few square miles in my normal travel schedule. I have been to the beach a couple of times, but only to sit and read. I haven’t been to the “city proper,” besides driving through it to get to I-10. I keep to myself. I actually have no friends outside of work in my new environment. I have not done anything with anyone I work with. My whole Jacksonville experience has revolved around my job. I love what I do, but it makes it tough to do it for a long time if I have no connection to where I live.
It has been a long time since I felt that I will be in one place for a while. Because of that, I feel that I have not tried to reach out and create a community where I have lived. I have not put down any roots anywhere, because I realized I would not be there for longer than two years. I see the potential for longevity in my current situation, but almost feel that I do not know how to do this anymore. It makes me feel hypocritical, as I constantly encourage my students to create community with their neighbors, within the campus, and with Jacksonville. Yet, I do not have this myself. I preach being involved with the community, but I haven’t done this either. I need to start walking the walk.
I am ready to end my nomadic lifestyle. I want to create a community outside of my work space. I am looking for a way to break in and get my foot in the door. There are a couple of events coming up that I am looking at participating in, so hopefully that will be a good start. I have been reluctant to tap into my personal interests to find others who appreciate similar activities. That means upcoming museum trips, volunteer work, and days at the beach.
It is exciting to think about the possibility, but frightening at the same time.