On Family, Friends, and Roots
One of the things that fulltime RVers forfeit is roots. A few days ago a post by another blogger (Glen at To Simplify) got me pondering this. He wrote:
The lack of the kind of deep social intimacy that often typifies the mobile lifestyle is, after all, difficult to ignore, and while I have made great strides towards dealing with it, I still can't deny that it is one of the few (possibly the only) lingering rubs to living the way I do.
... the telephone, video chat, email, and this blog help to maintain some sense of community and connectedness, but I wonder if all of these methods combined even come close to duplicating the kind of friendships that only develop when one is "around" day after day after day. And as this quality of friendship may very well be an essential requirement for long term happiness, I find myself wondering exactly how much longer my desire to wander will sufficiently outweigh the need for this sort of regular connection.
Dar and I, during the early and middle part of our lives together (while working, raising kids, etc.) moved around a lot as a result of my job and my ambition to do new things, to live in different parts of the country (a closet nomad even then?), and to be a corporate team player. As a result, we didn't put down deep roots anywhere. Sure, we have friends from those days we still stay in touch with, but there are no deep roots that can only come from being around and involved, day after day, for years and years.
I often ponder how having deep roots would have changed me. When observing and hanging out with those who have roots, I feel I've missed out on something. I feel a sense of loss for something I never had, at least since I left home and went to college. But, like many things in life, there are compromises. By being more nomadic I've grown in other ways... it's easy for me to introduce myself to new people, to make acquaintances, to inject myself into new situations, more flexible and adaptable to change. And perhaps my world-view is a bit more rounded?... my perspective a little more sharp? But then again... maybe not.
Some RV fulltimers will say that they make more friends and deeper friendships than they ever did while in their previous lifestyle. To some extent that may be true... you do meet and connect up with a bunch of people who happen to share some of the same interests. But in our experience those "friends" are what I'd often call passing acquaintances. We have a handful of, what I'd classify as, really good friends that we've made during our travels... and we cherish them and have a great time when we're together. But I wouldn't call what we have as deep roots, which to me, must involve a community in addition to great friendships.
If I had deep roots someplace, getting into this lifestyle would be tough. But since we don't, it was probably easier for us to fulltime, and to continue this nomadic wandering existence.
In a lot of ways, Dar and I, both of us, are a weird combination of introvert and extrovert... we like group activities, on our own terms, but many times... perhaps most of the time, we prefer solitude and doing our own thing. We don't belong to groups that regularly socialize, we don't travel in caravans with a string of other RVers, and we don't plan travels around rallies and social meet-ups. We, she and I, share a lot of interests (exploring, history, travel) and truly enjoy spending time and sharing discoveries we make with each other. It works for us.
How about family? For longer than we've been fulltiming, we have lived a long way from family. Trips to visit them tended to be short and sporadic. One of the real benefits of our current lifestyle is the ability to spend extended time with them... a month? two? even three? And we probably see them more now than we did before.
We will always make extended stays with family a part of our lifestyle, regardless of where or how we're living. Being close to family is important.
So, how do I summarize this point? For us, deep roots in a community is something we haven't had in a long time -- and probably won't for some time more, if ever. And we're OK with that -- for now. While I may long for it at times, it's really a trade-off for being nomadic, which we both crave even more at this point. That said, we do enjoy the friends and acquaintances we make along the way. And the key point here is that family is still our primary consideration and will be foremost in our minds when making plans for changes in the future.
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