We are frail creatures. Our underbellies are soft. Our fragile bodies feel exposed to this seemingly dangerous world when we are alone, and so we seek the presence of communities. We are wired to be tribal creatures. We thrive on the comfort of being around people who truly SEE us because it makes us feel safe.
Odd is the soul who ventures into this world alone; who makes the choice to live a nomadic and hermit-like existence. I made that choice nearly a year ago, and “odd” is a term I am quite comfortable being described as. What is more odd about this choice is that I am a very social creature. Though I grew up shy and afraid to communicate with others, I quickly changed when I started training martial arts. I found a group of people who accepted my quirkiness and even embraced me because of it and therefore found my voice in a world that once left me speechless.
Why then did I travel into this world alone? Why did I choose to leave my comfortable apartment in Norfolk VA, my martial arts school right down the street, and decide to live on the couches of friends around the nation for a year if I am such a social being? After all, the world teaches us that a modern day tribe exists in the confines of a village, and that anyone who ventures out of the comfort of that village must be an anti-social, and aberrant creature.
And why did I cry in solitude today while sitting in my car outside a coffee shop in Washington DC?
Last week I visited my dear Tango teacher Mercedes back home in Portsmouth VA. I needed a break from the city. With all its energy and potential, DC was wearing thin on me. Even though I knew people there and my partner resided within it’s city limits, I was beginning to feel very alone. I wasn’t teaching much and I felt a sense of loss because of its absence in my life. My temper had begun to flare up. I consider myself a very calm person and most people who know me well would agree. Something about being in DC while fostering a new relationship and figuring out my next chapter in life had sent me over the edge. I experienced road rage for the first time in years. My partner and I were fighting a lot. I needed to remember what it meant to be soft again, because I had become hardened and guarded.
In Tango, magic happens in the trusting embrace of another person. I felt my hardened shell melt as my dear teacher guided me through a practice that felt grounding, bonding and healing. Afterwards I sat with her at her dinner table and had a drink while we spoke to her daughter on the phone. I had met her daughter Amber before, and she had become family to me, so while sharing a conversation with her via speaker phone, I felt a sense of family connection I had not felt in a really long time.
That weekend I taught an impromptu Muay Thai workshop at one of my student’s, Kru Adam Mallehan’s martial arts programs. Teaching has always been something that has made me feel like I had a purpose in life. I hadn’t been back to VA in a while, but my career was fostered here. I have students in the area that still value me so I figured that the best way to connect with them all would be to do a workshop where we could all train and bond together.
To my surprise, people all over the Hampton Roads area came to support my workshop. Students from various martial arts schools gathered at Diego Bisbo’s Academy in Virginia Beach, Virginia to train and welcome me home. In addition, two of my Bermuda affiliates Chuck Morgan and Nikki Maries came, as they happened to be stateside while I was in VA. The workshop felt like a family reunion. I felt happy beyond belief as we all moved together on the floor in celebration of this art that we all shared and loved.
Last week reminded me that I would never be homeless. Though I have chosen to be without a home, I will always have people in my life that love and support me. I realized that my choice to leave a constant brick and mortar shelter of a residence only amplified my sense of community. Since December of 2015, I have lived with many friends for short periods of time while I followed my work wherever it took me. My friends eagerly brought me into their dwellings for weeks or even months at a time in support of my nomadic lifestyle. There were times, of course, where I worried where my next stop would be. Fate however always guided me to another friend. Each time I felt more appreciative and blessed for the life that I lead and the people that I share it with.
One day soon, I will choose a place to call “home.” I will pick a place to be my base while I hop from adventure to adventure elsewhere. Until then, I will not be afraid. I will not be sad. Instead I will celebrate with gratitude, knowing that I will never be homeless. I will always be taken care of by those that I cherish and support. Because of them, I am boundless, I am limitless, and I am truly free.