Posted July 13, 2016 by Kerry McFall
We’re in our second week of house/pet-sitting in Richmond, California. We’ve been on the road for five weeks now. Here are some thoughts on being a vagabond:
- It’s not really vacation, although everyone thinks it is. True, there are “vacation opportunities”, amazing views to paint (like the one above, seen from the field at the end of the street we’re on), places to visit and things to do that we can’t do at home. But just like home, the trash has to be taken to the curb, the dishes need washing, that third tomato plant needs a bigger support… the list goes on. And Griff is still working away at his “real” job via Internet, and I’m still working at being an artist.
- It’s not really a job either, because there’s no “pay”. We do get to stay for free, but there is a heightened sense of responsibility for every little thing. What is routine at home is kind of a big deal here where we don’t know the ropes. Trash, for instance, in this warmer climate, cannot be forgotten or post-poned until next week… besides, what will the neighbors say? And wait – before you pull that up, is that yellow-flowered plant a weed or a perennial herb? (Turns out it was Bristly Oxtongue – it’s nasty stuff!)
- Speaking of neighbors – Why does everyone keep their blinds drawn all the time? Where did this adorable little Chihuahua (above) come from? And what do we do with her now? (Turns out she is an Escape Artist from just up the street. She only speaks Spanish, but sandwiches and balls appear to be part of the Universal Language!) Where do you park during street sweeping hours? Hey, you with the sprinklers running – don’t you know there’s a drought?
The Vagabond Lifestyle is a trade-off. For instance, we’ve traded a trip to the San Francisco Exploratorium for warm summer evenings chatting with friends and neighbors in our own front yard. The Exploratorium event was of course wonderful – we had dinner on the waterfront, then I met up with Urban Sketchers and enjoyed making art with them about the StrandBeests exhibit there. On the BART ride back to Richmond, though, we were a bit nervous about the two vagrant-looking young men with bikes in our compartment. We were all very quiet and watchful, until the train lurched and their bikes broke loose and nearly landed in our laps. As we untangled legs and pedals and chains, we wound up exchanging funny stories about our travel adventures! Another reinforcement of the “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover” rule, for all four of us. We got over their dreadlocks and tattoos, they got over our middle-aged whiteness, and a good time was had by all.
That being said, we still miss our friends and our little front yard. And this is all possible because we know we have home and friends to go back to. We are so fortunate.