Embracing the Random

Those of you who know me, understand that Random is basically my middle name.  It’s almost an ongoing joke to ask me where I’m going next, because it changes.  It changes often, without notice and in the most random ways possible.  My plans change weekly.  Daily.  Hourly.  And sometimes- by the minute.

A little morning powder from somewhere past Peak 10 in Breckenridge, taken by me in 2000.

Well, last week I hit a pinnacle random moment that happens every few years.  These moments take random to new heights- to the point where even I, the professed queen of the remote island of random beings, step back and say, “Damn, that was random.”

Last weekend was the ultimate in the crux of my nomadic afflictions.  A full moon coincided with my Restless Feet Syndrome and intersected with my October Syndrome.  And my nomadic mind went berserk.  Totally off its rocker.

Friday, I almost bought a ticket on Emirates to Karachi to spend a couple months with a dear friend who lives there.  My mouse hovered over the BUY YOUR TICKET button for several long moments as my mind raced with all the possibilities.  But, I backed out.  It just didn’t seem to be quite right.

Saturday, my truck brake lights came on and I contemplated chucking the whole car thing all together.  I may still do this, but I devised a whole living scenario with a dear friend in a small town in NC that is bike friendly with one of the only decent and free mass transit systems in the South.  I even went to the bike shop and looked at my new wheels.  I weighed the pros and cons, made a plan and mulled it over.  Truth be told, I was procrastinating on my trip to my favorite mechanics to see why my dashboard was lit up like a Christmas tree and how much it would set me back to turn off the warning lights.  Luckily- I just needed brake fluid.  Dodged that bullet- but the car-less bug had been planted.

Sunday afternoon I got a text message from one of my dearest friends and old roommate from my wanderlust recreational living days on the Outer Banks and Breckenridge.  He got fired from his job.  First time ever, in his life, and he’s one of the hardest working, most responsible people I know.  My response by text was, “I’m free next week, wanna take a road trip?”

A little background here.  Every year, since leaving Colorado to pursue “real jobs and responsible careers” my friend and I have this conversation.  We daydream about our ski bum days, contemplate the possible living scenarios of land + yurt + airstream + tepee, think of how simple and organic the living would be out West, find our perfect little town and then we do very little to make it come to life.  We contemplate the prospect of “one day”.

The conversation gets very heated in October- where as in our 20s, we would just pack up the cars with our gear or jump on a plane and muddle our way through the ski town lifestyle.  And we loved it.  Our twenties rocked.

Granted, our thirties have been interesting too.  I don’t regret my time during the past five years, my pursuit of my passion, my academic escapades, my international travel or my current writing adventure.  I wouldn’t trade any of it!  But I do miss my ski days.

Those of you who have lived in the ski/snowboard lifestyle will understand the overwhelming longing for the mountains- particularly in October when the first snows start to fly.  I used to have four hour lunch breaks where I was expected to ski.  That first chair up to the peak at 8 am is amazing.  Gliding off the ski lift, looking out over miles of peaks, covered in white snow, soaking up the blue sky and taking the deepest breath of the freshest air before you hurl yourself at ungodly speeds down a fresh slope of fluffy white stuff- well, there are very few things that compare.  That’s joy.

Back to the story.

I called my friend later that day and the story of his firing and try to encourage him to do something fabulous.  The firing was baseless- but the irony was rich!  And he mentioned he was going to send out his resume and find another job in the same industry.  I mentioned that his old job in Breckenridge was probably open (he’s quite possibly the best busser in Colorado- and probably one of the happiest.  Who wouldn’t hire a responsible 37 year old who would actually bus tables for free if he were rich- that’s how much he loves this restaurant and its owners).  And then, while mulling this over on the Skype, I found the most adorable little 300 square foot cabin complete with a miner’s shack out back for $650 a month in a neighboring town.

Seriously- who doesn’t want a home with a miner’s shack out back.

I planted the seed.  I watered it a little. I heard the excitement grow. We fleshed out the worst case scenarios.  And, well, why the f*ck not?  He was long overdue for a return to the Rockies.  I got my West Coast taste last winter and knew that it was only a matter of months before I returned to the West as well.

So, we ended the phone conversation with a small plan in place to get my buddy back to the Rockies.  He would call his old boss, get his old job back and check on that cabin.


He called me back a few minutes later and made the point that I should join him.  It would be super cheap to split the rent, I could just ski, write and make my art and Ladybug (my hound dog) would love it!  The thought of spending most of my time focused on writing my blog, taking it to the next level- while skiing and playing in the mountains with my dog is just too good to pass up!  And, he has a VW Vanagon circa 1984 that would be mine to use and traipse about the West in.  Me, my dog, the Vanagon (with shag carpet) and the open road- when I’m not skiing and playing in the back-country.

Again, I thought, “Well, why the f*uck not?”  I mulled it over for about 20 minutes, went to a couple ski websites, saw the shiny powder shots and thought, yes.  That’s perfect.  It’s time.

I need a home base and I know that there will be a home in the East near my family and a home in the West near my sanity.  Why not Colorado?

Why not?

So, in a matter of 36 hours, we had an adorable cabin to rent and a plan to relocate to a small Rocky Mountain town.  And I couldn’t be any happier.  I feel like a kid at Christmas.  I find myself breaking into a huge grin for no reason- all the time.

I’m driving about NC right now working on some commercial multimedia projects and I feel overwhelmed by all the people.  All the hustle and bustle.  All the rushing about that accompanies the East Coast lifestyle.  I know this isn’t me.  I knew that when I was flying over New Mexico this spring, returning from my Western Walkabout and looking down at the landscape below.  There was this feeling in the pit of my stomach, this feeling that I was leaving the place where I felt sane, where I felt normal.  I was leaving the place where I belonged.

I don’t fit on the East Coast.  I know, its a big place, I should fit somewhere, right?  Well I don’t.  And neither does my Colorado buddy.  We just don’t fit here.  And trying to stay in a place where you don’t fit, no matter how hard you try or what sacrifices you make, it never ends well.  Eventually, the longing to return consumes you, and you have to return to the place where you belong.  Or you have to seek that place- if you have yet to find it.

Many of my friends and most of my family are on the East Coast, so it will always be a part of my life.  And I enjoy visiting, I know that as I settle in the West, there will be a part of me that’s homesick for the people I love in the East.  And I’ll spend several months out of the year living near (or sometimes with) them.  And I also need at least several months at the beach- to re-balance with that fabulous turbulent ocean.

But this nomad needs her Rockies.  She needs her blue skies and white mountains.  She needs her ski town lifestyle, where the most important factor is the low pressure system coming from the West and whether or not the powder in the trees is still fresh.  She needs to be around people who are, for the most part, inherently happy because they left a life of madness to pursue a life that reflects their core passions and beliefs.  She needs to be around people who understand that living in a shack and skiing everyday is more appropriate then the alternative of participating in the Great American Social Narrative.

This nomad needs to merge her exploding creativity with her adrenaline infused love of skiing.

This nomad needs her West Coast life back.  And, there’s an international airport just down the road!  Let the adventure begin!

And I will stop referring to myself in the third person now!

Where do you belong?  Are you East Coast all the way, West Coast to the core or on a Rocky Mountain high?  Are you malleable and flexible with where you live?  Do you have an inner ski/snowboard bum dying to emerge?  Let that inner child frolic in the comment section below!


  1. William says

    Reading your post had me recalling the transient tone my life has had for the last 8 years. Its been a beautifully random existence that I will always have an appreciation for and its opened my awareness to the true nature of the mind. I was always running “from” or running “to” something. That something turned out to be myself and all the moving created chaos so that I didn’t have time to face my hopes,fears,regrets,wishes etc… Though I have felt much more geographical connection to many of my stops than I do to my own Midwestern city, I felt further detached from who I was and was growing more into who I really am. But it took a pause in the transient life for me to recognize that and now I’ve been confronted with the question “would I be just as content here as anywhere else?”. Now when deciding on a move I have to be conscious of why I feel such a strong pull towards somewhere and to make sure my intentions are pure and that I’m not seeking change out of boredom or out of feeling incomplete. I guess to sum it up not a single location has been the “fix” but they all played out in a beautiful symphony of self-discovery.

    • says

      Thanks so much for stopping by William! You are very right, running from something is not a healthy reason for relocating- for that baggage always follows you! One of the beautiful things about the nomadic/location independent lifestyle is that you can be comfortable living almost anywhere! Travel safe!

  2. says

    Crystal, your spur of the moment life decisions sound absolutely amazing. Not to mention I haven’t felt this captivated by blog writing in a long time- you have a serious talent for capturing imagery and whirlwind emotions- cultivated, perhaps, by the speed at which you hurtle through randomness? :)

    I’ve lived on the East Coast since I was little and came over from China/Japan, and here the cities engage almost all of me, but that other bit longs for something else entirely. While I’ve heard good things about the pacific northwest/northern cali and some parts of the midwest sound fascinating, my heart is already bounding back overseas. My latest dream is Prague!

    • says

      Thanks Tessa, I’m so excited that you connect with the blog so well! You have so many fabulous years of randomness ahead of you! Why not visit all the places you mentioned- and then some! I had access to grant money while at school, which helped me travel the world a bit. And indulge in the randomness. Go see the world- especially Prague! Heard it’s beautiful! And put it all on the blog so we can travel with you!

  3. Diane Klein says

    Hi Crystal!

    Loved this blog! You sound happy and content with your decision to go west! A great read and I wish you much happiness on your new journey!

    • says

      Thanks Diane! Glad you liked it!! I’m excited to see where your new adventures take you, as well! I can’t wait to see you and mom and a roadtrip! You guys will have a blast!

  4. says

    I’ve found several places that speak to me — fortunate that, have not yet managed to have people who are important and places that speak in the same place, though, still working on that one.
    all the best to you and your friend. it’ll be great — and you know that.

    • says

      Thanks so much, Kerry!

      Its a tough balance to find- the right place populated with the right people (or person). Seems almost a cruel irony sometimes that the most beautiful of places can be lacking in community and the most awkward of locations is filled with fabulous people! But, knowing how to find the place that speaks to you- and what exactly it is that is calling your name- is half the battle! Good luck and keep me posted!

  5. Pat says

    You go girl! This whole story feels as refreshing as that freshest overnight porder you speak of! So so cool!!! You know my love of the west…..and especially Alaska, where you will hopefully some day visit as our guest….. because you convey your passions SO well that they feel like they’re flowing right through me! When it happens….do bring your hound and your guy friend too! : )
    This appropriate verse is worth sharing. It’s from Spell of the Yukon– 1800’s, by Robert Service.
    “There’s a land where the mountains are nameless, and the rivers all run God knows where. There are lives that are erring and aimless, and deaths that just hang by a hair. There are hardships that nobody reckons, there are valleys unpeopled and still. There’s a land, oh it beckons and beckons, and I want to go back….and I will.”
    I’m so happy for you!

  6. says

    Ahhh! What a beautiful post! I’m not sure where I belong, I have lived in a place for seven years but it does not feel like home. The ocean is so grand to me. Maybe, I should try the west coast next? My inner nomad has been sleeping but is looking for ways to stretch out again.

    • says

      Thanks, Danielle!

      The draw of the ocean is a tough one! I know I fit well in the mountains and in the West, but the ocean sucks me in once I’m on the East Coast. All that raw power and emotion flowing from the waves- I just can’t resist. The ocean keeps me sane! Guessing it does for you too! You should check out the West Coast- though I can’t speak to living on the beaches there. I got spoiled living on the Outer Banks!

      Stretch out that inner nomad with a mini-walkabout! Make it random and simple- even if its just for a week or so. Jump on the train and head westward- that helps fire up that nomad as well! Good luck and let me know when you indulge that inner nomad!

  7. says

    I love this part of your comment “I’m guessing there will be…” If no postcards are born in the Rockies, I won’t hold it against you :P

    • says

      Ha! I think there will be many postcards born in the Rockies- but ya’ll might get sick of seeing those ridiculous blue skies and tall snow-capped peaks! I’ll have to mix it up with some random adventures to far off places!

  8. says

    OMG Love it. So Jealous! And I’m with you on that whole ‘making peace with whether you belong somewhere or not’. Something I need to work through right now.

    Good luck. Adventures are always worth undertaking.

    • says

      Thanks, Gordon! Don’t be jealous- launch a fabulous adventure of your own! Sometimes it’s hard to make peace with where you belong. Just be sure you’ve surrounded yourself with good people who understand you in addition to finding the place where you feel most like yourself- wherever that may be! Good luck!

  9. says

    I have lived in the North, East, South and now the West and I still haven’t figured it out! So, I don’t find your choice random at all.

    Have fun in the Rockies!

    • says

      Yes, a fellow nomad would recognize the actual structure or logic to the randomness!! Thanks, Jenneil and I’m guessing there will be some snow filled postcards and cross-country trips heading your way, Courier!