Romance (or lack thereof) in the Life of a Digital Nomad
A lot of things feel irrelevant when I feel alone.
I feel like I’m leaning over a giant gap in the earth, a large tunnel that leads into the darkness of the world’s core. And it’s frightening to look into, but I can’t help but, despite my fear, to lean forward and call out: Hello? Is anyone out there?
And maybe that’s why I like blogging so much. When fellow friends and family members tell me I’m writing down too much information—when they tell me I don’t need to let the world know how I’m feeling, my excuse is, “I have to write or i’ll suffocate and die.” This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but one can’t be too sure. I mean, I guess I could write stuff and not share it… But I think blogging, telling my secrets, sharing my wins, and admitting to defeat…it helps me connect with everyone out there on the internet. It makes me feel like there is someone out there…It makes me feel less alone. For those of you who comment and just take a part in the conversation…You guys deserve a medal. I love the “Someone has commented on your blog” emails. Really. I do.
Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading up on this new term: “Digital Nomad.” (It sounds much cooler than travel writer since everyone is using that these days.) I’ve never really seen myself as a digital nomad just because I still see computers more as convenient notepads to write on. Other than that, computers still seem to be quite a mystery to me. Most of the digital nomads out there are computer software engineers. They speak in code and lots of the job descriptions I found on websites like Remote Ok, or descriptions of other digital nomads like Nomad House all contained capital letters: "Must be HTML fluent and also knowing iOS somethings and APIs is a plus.... I swear I saw one programming language that looked something like this:
(again, I exaggerate.)
Still, it’s like the "cool" Digital Nomad is completely the opposite of who I am. I’m not a tech geek (don’t tell the employers hiring on AngelList that.) Ah! The true digital nomads...They’re so different from me…
Except are they really?
Thanks to Wikipedia: Digital nomads are individuals who leverage telecommunications technologies to perform their work duties, and more generally conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner.
Hey, I’m a writer/blogger. I use telecommunications technologies (wow big words) to perform work duties. I travel.
And I really live the lifestyle. And, well, the nomadic lifestyle is kind of a lonely one. Well for me it is.
I’ve been to over 25 countries (and counting!) and in the last 8 months I have lived in six different cities including Los Angeles (one month), San Francisco (One month), and Brooklyn (three months so far…). <- Yes I’m kind of bragging about my travel experience, especially as a 22-year old female who has done most of that traveling solo.
But i’m also trying to point out the fact that, hey, when you move around so much, you’re hard to find. Although I get much more restless when I stay in one spot (Just booked a flight yesterday actually and feel much better), it can become a little exhausting on the heart to keep roaming about without a shoulder to fall asleep on on those longer flights (sorry random strangers if I ever leant my head on you when asleep). Moving around is great, I wouldn’t give up traveling for the world (wait a second, maybe I would?) but…on some nights like tonight, I’m just a tad bit lonely. My roommate just called out from the kitchen: "By lonely she means desperate! But she's a nice girl, so go fuck off." Ha ha...Oh he's a gentleman.
I realized the connection between loneliness and the nomadic lifestyle when I was talking to my current roommate who I met the day we both moved into a temporary space we had found in Brooklyn on Craigslist. I have had a few flirtatious encounters while working, while waiting for the subway, and while enjoying a donut and a good book at a coffee shop where men have approached me. I kind of have the mind set that I should give every man a chance, even if I don’t feel immediately swept off my feet by them (and let’s be honest, it’s quite easy for me to feel that way).
These encounters have all turned into these strange men emailing, texting, or calling me countless times despite my answer of “No thanks.” After one man emailed me five times without me responding, he emailed me a sixth time with a link to his Soundcloud page where fresh new songs that he wrote/sang/played/recorded were waiting for me. This incident caused my roommate to say I need to set a new standard for meeting strangers in random places.
“You can’t just give your number to anyone!
“Well, if I don’t meet someone on a train or in a coffee shop or by some chance mixed with a little courage, how am I going to meet a guy?”
“You are here studying in New York City with that British accent that girls always fall for for some reason. You go to class, you have social educational gatherings. … I’m here today, gone tomorrow, and that’s that.”
“I guess that’s true. Maybe just be a bit more selective on your number giving.”
Our conversation led to other topics, but I was stuck on my roommates acceptance of this truth. Of course, my life was filled with people just like New York was filled with taxis. I have come home everyday with a story to tell, a new name to jot down and write about, and I have made many friends. I’m rich with content to write about.
But romancing? I think, especially as a solo female traveler, that’s going to be a challenge to work out. It's like I want to find that magical stranger on the subway and...NOT get kidnapped or whatever else...but how to go about doing that?
I recently read an article that listed the best online community for digital nomads. At first, I had laughed at the idea actually (sorry!). Who needs an online community to be close to others who live the nomadic lifestyle? Especially at $25 dollars a month. Jesus, people. But now, although I won’t be signing up for any of those online communities and am building my own real community organically every day I strike up a conversation with someone new, I will not laugh at the idea of an online community for the nomadic traveler. I don’t think it’s an idea to laugh at. I think it’s a great idea. Bravo, bravo.
And on a night like tonight, I kind of wish I was a part of one of those communities. I imagine many talking in forums about those big capital lettered languages… ASDFD and ADFAET and FGHGDFH. And I might pick up a few words: computers...coding...software stuff...technology... and me just finally stepping in with a little, “Hi. Is anyone there? How is your night going?”
Instead of embarrassing myself online, I’ll take my $25 and go get the best ramen and pork buns in New York City. And hey, party for one? I’ll get to skip the one hour wait for two, and enjoy some of the best food in the world in a new city with no wait. Thanks, Ippudo, for reminding me that traveling alone has its perks. Mmm. Delicious. I love you.