By Joey Fortune
Like the tides, some things in life are predictable yet unstoppable. Days never cease, while seasons follow seasons with impeccable reliance. As humans, we’ve adapted to this and in our hubris, created our own events to show the universe that we are also in command. We have given birth to holidays.
Yes, now with Thanksgiving firmly and irreversibly behind us, Christmas lies ominous on the horizon. With this comes shorter days, colder nights, the wearing of hats and the popping up of Christmas tree stands all over the borough of Manhattan.
Here in North America, all roads lead to New York. On these roads, many a young person sojourns to the great cultural mecca for a month to sling trees and spread happiness to many thousands of spirited locals. I am one of these nomads. I spend much of my year traveling many of the less sought after roads to eventually arrive here.
Dividing my time between deserted Mexican coastlines, the high Sierra, or the deep mountain valleys of the Cascades, I eventually make the pilgrimage east with growing anticipation.Vagrant lifestyles are often viewed with suspicion and disdain, often mixed with a strange sense of curiosity. Timid questions with respect to what I do with the rest of my time open a dam of incredible-sounding responses.
At one thirty in the morning with snow gently falling on the streets of New York, I will rub my hands together while informing a customer that I will be spending the rest of the winter on a remote beach in Mexico. Often these statements lead to the clicking of tongues or sarcastic sounds of empathy or pity.
Now, with a few years of wisdom behind me, I have learned the best way to make these people feel good about where they are. I simply say that my lifestyle is a choice; everyone can make it if they want to. Glowing expressions at this possibility fill the space between us until I add a few details like, no hot water, no plumbing, no electricity, no permanent address, no steady paycheck, owning a car that sometimes won’t start and no internet for days or weeks. Suddenly life in a cold, snowy city in a warm apartment having a glass of wine with friends while watching television doesn’t seem that bad.
Yes, selling Christmas trees and crafts on the corner of Christopher and Hudson Street might not sound all that exciting or luxurious when it is thirty three degrees and raining. Sleeping on the street in the back of a minivan becomes not only undesirable but deplorable. Or having to chase overzealous drunk guys away as they try to urinate on your trees becomes a wearisome chore. In life, choices are made and sacrifices come along with consequences. At the end of the day, I can honestly say I love my life. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I live free of regrets. And in the end, what else really is there?