The buds in the trees are on the verge of exploding into curtains of green. Everything starts flowing again and I have woken up from Winter. I open up the blinds, step out of the door and prepare for the next adventure: living in Amsterdam-North.
How would things develop if I would really live in my tent?
It is all fine and dandy to spend six weeks with two goats, but I have not yet gotten to the heart of it all. This time no goats, no time limit, less support of a clear defined art project, but with my BedMobile. Coming weeks I will improve my BedMobile so it becomes more than a tent: It will be my home. I will find new gardens to live in and from there I’ll do several things: setting up a life in North, working through my data, preparing new interviews with nomads, and doing small projects, some related to the Small Nomadic Atlas. What is it that have I been doing with my goats in autumn? To find out I will start my next adventure by going back to my old hosts and try to hash out the details. Why was I welcome in their gardens? More importantly: under what conditions is anyone welcome on private property?
What are the play rules for a backyard nomad?
When staying over there is always a balance to maintain between host and guest. This Winter I lived with friends. Sometimes in my own room – I have a permanent hide-out in Zaltbommel – sometimes on a sofa. Being a guest felt like a balancing dance between being present and blending into the background, connecting for exchange and finding private head space, helping and receiving. At first receiving the gift of hospitality is enough to keep both parties happy. But when staying longer or becoming a regular, I tried to tune into the rhythm of the lives I joined. I sometimes cook, I get my own drinks, do grocery shopping. As time progressed I needed to find a mode in which I can stay true to my own needs and wishes, and my hosts too.
In public space I can be alone and meet people 0n a level playing field.
Going outside into public spaces, for example to work at the public library, relieved me of that tension. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed being outside and how difficult it can be to put on a coat and leave the comforts of anyone’s home. But when I do, I feel free to go wherever I want to, to be in any state of mind, not minding however I feel and the impact it has on others. It seems that for me the key to a wholesome nomadic life is my own small inside space outside, and spending enough time anonymously in the public realm. Feeling at home has changed from sleeping in my own bed into lying on my own in a bed. Although that may be I am looking forward to being able to host my hosts in my own tiny space. For my happiness it is important to be able to turn the tables around: to receive any guests for sleepovers and bonfires. When I close the zipper of my BedMobile I can dance around naked and no one will know or mind. I want to fit my tent into my life instead of letting my tent restrict my life. Or better: find a symbiosis. What will happen when I work? When I go away for weekends? When I’ll pick up dancing regularly? And how will I relate to my hosts?
When staying longer, host and guest need to find a new balance.
Right now I am aiming for four weeks in the same yard at a time, with a minimum of two weeks. This means that I will have to agree with my hosts upon a way to make my stay an added value to their lives. What is it that I bring that will leave everyone with fond memories? Is it a DIY job that never got finished before? Babysitting? Cooking? Telling stories? And how independent shall I be? Relying on city services such as laundromats, washing my clothes in my host’s machine or doing it the old fashion way in a bowl my tent? Finding a mode between self-sufficiency, interdependence and the city will be one of the challenges ahead.
Without a dominant tradition there is space to develop your own nomadic life.
As I already found out, there are many paths to becoming a nomad. Marrying a reindeer herder, selling innovative equipment to large multinationals, living in a tight knit community of a circus, making up a project. To fit personality with environment there can be a thousand and one solutions. I will take my own preferences as the start for my own journey and merge them with the city and opportunities I meet. Like before, on the road I hope to learn from experts in all and unexpected places: not only nomads, but people who will teach me through interaction while I find my way through the city. I know one thing: my nomadic life in Amsterdam-North will start under a green canopy of leaves. Spring has come and I will keep you posted. Wil je dit artikel in het Nederlands lezen? Meld je aan voor de nieuwsbrief! In nieuwsbrief #22 staat de vertaling en nog meer verhalen.