Home Sweet Wherever It Is

My “real” home in California

In traditional cultures, where you live is a big part of who you are.  Many Americans, on the other hand, tend to view our communities as way stations to somewhere else. Most of us leave home at an early age and don’t return to raise our kids in the communities where we grew up.  As we age, many of us move again for economic reasons or to be with the grandchildren our children are raising  somewhere else.       

In America, we are who we are wherever we go and our communities are more like friends —  some are soul mates and some are only convenient in the context of the time.

My ger home in the Mongolian steppes

For most of my life, I have lived in communities where kids ride bikes to school, trees shade quiet streets, and your neighbors bring you plates of cookies.  My communities provided me and my family with great comfort and safety.

But I didn’t want them to define me.

My stone cottage home on the Greek island of Lesvos

I wanted to feel connected to the whole world.

A few years ago, I put this want to the test. I stored everything I owned except what I could cram into a 22 inch suitcase. I rented out the house where I raised my son, ended a 33 year career, and left my San Francisco Bay Area home to travel the world.

My apartment home in Jerusalem, Israel

My hotel home in Conwy, Wales

Since then, I have visited places as different as Japan, Sweden, Jordan, Kenya and Egypt.  I have trekked the Mongolian steppes on a horse, prepared dinner for elephants in Thailand and visited many of the world’s most amazing museums.  I spent a life-changing 6 months working with refugees in Greece and I wrote a book.

I have met so many remarkable people who have taught me a little about how to face challenges with gratitude, how to find joy in small things and how to be a creative presence in the world.  I have learned that people can — and do– love each other no matter how different their lives have been. These experiences are among my life’s greatest gifts.

Of course, my nomadic life comes at a price. I miss my friends and family. I miss that wall hanging that was in my dining room and real books made out of paper and making dinners for friends. I often don’t know where I will be from month to month and I have lost the rhythm of living in my own wonderful California community.

But every time I think I will settle down again, I start researching places I have never been and hit the button for another airline ticket.  For now at least, the world is my home.

My tent home in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

 

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
— Joseph Campbell

20 comments

  1. Thank you for this post Kim. You are truly a fearless and compassionate woman. I wish I had your courage. So happy I was able to meet you and I look forward to future conversations!

  2. I am so excited to jump into the midst of your world travels (at least in Peru). So grateful to join you for at least a little while to get up close and personal to what this journey has been all about for you. So much love Kimmie!

  3. I love this one, Kim! Traveling, especially the way you travel, is so magical and illuminating. A house with its books, wall hangings, and conveniences will always be there in your future. Meanwhile you’re an inspiration to many of us, and you’ve certainly opened my eyes to places I’d never consider going. Learning about the world is very important to me, too, but with two sensitive cats, I can’t leave for more than three weeks. Otherwise, I think I’d be meeting you somewhere amazing. Bon voyage!

  4. Hi Kim, I want to introduce you to a good friend,Callie Hurd. She is planning to travel to Egypt and Africa next year. I thought you would be A good resource for her as she plans to travel to Muslim countries. Love you, Jen

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  5. Thanks, Jen!  Nice to meet you, Kim!  At this point, I’m mostly just curious what you would recommend for dress while we (two women) are in Egypt.  I’ve heard so many horror stories about Egypt and how the men there treat western women, I’m tempted to wear a burka!  I traveled for a week on Malaysia and went running back to Thailand as fast as I could.  Turkey wasn’t much better.  I would prefer to just avoid Muslim countries, but Egypt has been on my list for a long, long time!  So, keep myself covered and wear something on my head?  Is it a problem to wear sandals? Thanks! Callie

    1. Hi Callie, I have traveled to many Muslim countries, sometimes by myself, without any problem. I was in Cairo by myself for a week with no issues. Of course, I am in my 60s which could make a difference and I move like I know what I am doing even when I don’t. I did get the normal level of curiosity in a few places where white tourists are not common. My experience in Egypt was that it was a friendly and respectful culture. I never felt awkward dressing in my usual travel clothes (but I am never sleeveless or in shorts). I covered my head when in places of worship or pilgramage. I have always worn flip flops in warm weather. If you leave Cairo to see the antiquities you should get on a tour, not because men will hassle you but because it is difficult to travel independently there if you don’t know the region and there are safety issues in remote places for women traveling alone. Perhaps I have just been lucky. In 43 countries, I have only been the victim of a crime or harassment in two places: my home town of Oakland and Scotland!

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