Needing What Is Familiar

Roamer's picture

Last time I wrote about how I move with my Mom every 13 weeks as she starts a new assignment as a travel nurse, and now I want to go into some of the realities of this kind of lifestyle. Believe it or not, it's not as bad as it may seem.

I think one of the biggest challenges I face is finding some sense of familiarity in a constantly changing environment. Every 13 weeks I'm in a new place, and with that comes new…well…everything. New schools, new housing, new places to explore (and unfortunately avoid). I tend to notice little things, like how the water tastes different in each place we live, people's accents, and food. Especially food. What the locals eat says quite a bit about the area.

The first adjustment I face is the type of housing we'll be in. Usually it's a corporate apartment, rented for a short time, but sometimes it's a condo. My favorite is when we stay at a long term hotel or a Holiday Inn Express …lots of fun there! We always have a two bedroom place, and the apartments/condos are fully furnished. These are nice places too, and that's one of the perks that attracted Mom to doing this.

I've managed to cope by seeking out my favorite things as soon as I arrive in a new place, and Mom helps by giving me a map of the area as soon as she knows where we're headed next. By the time we arrive I know the location fairly well, and as soon as we unpack it's exploring time! Subway is my favorite place to eat, and we always seem to end up within walking distance of one, and for some reason we almost always end up living close to a mall. I'm not into shopping, but malls are good places to make friends and hookups…I'm mostly gay so that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Because we drive to each new location we don't own a lot of possessions, and what I own fits into half of the car's trunk. We've learned for safety reasons that it's a good idea when traveling to not look like a tourist or a family on the move. It also makes loading and unloading easier.

I use one suitcase for clothes, and over time I learned how to carefully pack. I only own two weeks worth of clothes, and I mostly wear cargo shorts and tee shirts so that saves space, along with only having two pairs of shoes. All of my clothes are darks, so that makes laundry easy, especially since it's my responsibility to do it. No worries about accidentally turning a white shirt pink!!!

In my second suitcase I have what I call "my life"-my laptop, school stuff, and keepsakes from each place we've been, as well as pictures of family and friends. I start to feel at home in a new place as soon as I set those up, and I arrange them the same way each time. Once my laptop's online I really feel at home, and then I can connect with my friends again.

Probably the biggest adjustment I have is going to a new school, unless I end up home schooling. For people who have moved a few times you know what it's like being the "new kid"…imagine being that THREE times a year! As soon as Mom gets her new assignment we find out the school I'm going to (or not going to sometimes) and I can learn the school's rules and get an idea of what to expect. The race demographics of the students is also really important, and I'll explain that a bit later.

What usually happens on the first day of school is another student shows me around, and more often then not we become good friends (and sometimes 13 week lovers, what I call those short relationships). Twice my first day at a school was on the first day of classes for all the kids and that makes it easy, but most of the time I get the "new kid" label.

Five times my first day at a school was my last there, and the worst time was when we were given the wrong information and I ended up at a school where 99% of the kids weren't my race. Getting racial slurs from the kids in front of the teacher (who did nothing about it) was bad enough, but getting beat up in the restroom ended my stay there. When you live in different areas you also learn all about racism, and I've been on the receiving end many times.

Sometimes, no matter what the area is like, the school I go to sucks. Usually its a funding issue, but sometimes it's a case where many of the kids don't speak English. When that happens I home school and count the days until the 13 weeks are up.

One of the roughest experiences I had was when we lived in a wealthy area in the Rust Belt, great school but the ATTITUDE was horrible, and the surrounding area was so depressing. Being around a bunch of snotty stuck up kids was miserable, and I made it a whole week there. I'm not sure how I managed!

For the last two years I've mostly home schooled, following the lesson plans of my hometown's school, and I like that better. Part of my work is doing reports about each new place we live in, and I use Facebook to post my new adventures and keep up with friends. I have two Twitter accounts, one for friends and the other for gay stuff. Since I'm not out I have to keep my gay life a secret, but for now I can accept that.

(Alex)