Confessions of a location free maverick – it’s over! How the Pretend Cat and the Pet Rock are changing the landscape of my life. I find it deeply ironic and bizarre how I can go from travelling the world with ridiculously minimal belongings (even minimal for miss LIVE LIGHT, LIVE LARGE over here) and living mostly out of a suitcase for the past 2.5 years … to buying Tupperware, water containers, dishcloths, coffee plunger, bins and gasp of all gasps, kitty food – because I suddenly find myself with a “pretend” cat and a huge pet rock! Neither of which will fit in my suitcase, which can mean only one thing – a little home again.
Chances are you might have some insight into my motto, my life work and how I have been gallivanting around the world to speak, run writing retreats, masterminds and work with the YPO? And laze on beaches of course! Yet with this lifestyle comes the highest of global highs and the lowest of lonely lows.
Every decision we make has consequences on all sides. There is really no such thing as a decision that doesn’t have pro’s and con’s. That’s delusional. It’s just about choosing the ones that you most prefer, that bring you more joy and meaning, isn’t it? It’s not that any decision is better than any other one. And decisions are never usually forever are they? We get to choose and re-decide further down the line, whether about how we think or what we own, to what we do in the world and where we live.
I have been living with the consequence of choosing to have no home for the recent past. It’s a feeling of deliriousness combined with displacement. Sometimes it is truly a joyful experience, easy to broadcast on Instagram pics, carefully curated into an authentic feed, or a hopefully motivational post and pics of exotic food whilst lounging by the sea. New spaces, places and delights at every corner. Yet it’s not ALL wild, laugh-inducing adventures and Pollyanna playtime.
It’s also the polar opposite – sometimes a scary, wide open world knowing no one, needing to constantly be wondering where the next pit stop is, can I convert enough ZAR into USD to survive a northern currency, where will my work call me to (from Lagos, to Dubai to San Francisco), other people’s reactions to being “homeless” when I say I am #locationfree. Yes, but where is your home, Kate?
I have personally found that whilst my senses are constantly being awoken and titivated, it’s simultaneously a tad grueling on my body and takes me longer to adjust to new surroundings to feel totally integrated. I have stayed in the best of 5* hotels, to revolting homes I housesat (that really should have been a three week, massively paid declutter job). I do find it easy to feel at home in someone else’s space, but have become way more susceptible to the energy of the house and how it impacts me. So it has been in short, the past 2.5 years have been a profoundly intriguing, enlightening time.
Being a #locationfree maverick naturally takes some toll on my committed relationship with ENP and yet also provides us both with space to really miss each other. Even when I do make Lesvos, the world renowned Lesbian pilgrimage island, (where the 10th muse and lyrical poetess Sappho was born), my destination of choice. He doesnt batt an eyelid- and that tells you everything about him! Friends delight in my pics, tales and gifts, but also beg to know when I’m coming “home” – I remind them I don’t call SA ‘HOME’ anymore. You know how when you speak to people in the UK (yes Mum, that’s you!) and they bleat on about the weather? Well, pretty much every time I speak to a dear friend they cannot help themselves but ask, “so when are you in SA again”? I have done my best to implore them to not say when are you coming “home”. Or even when are you BACK. Those words imply it will suck me back into its clutches, and SA honestly is no longer home. It’s a beautiful and complex place that for many decades was my home, where I still work and see ENP and my friends. I have awesome clients there and … it is simply no longer my home! I am being called north again, and have been for the past 4 years, ever since I first traveled to the USA. So, I typically say I am simply where I am right now and thank God for the likes of Skype, Whatsapp and Zoom.
At the start of this process of packing up my home in JHB, I always knew I would be location free for a year at least; then after a year had flown by I had no desire for it to be any different; my travel trajectory was as delicious and busy for the year ahead, so I just kept at it. Living with 90% of my belongings with me, three boxes in storage and traveling to places MOSTLY in summer or the shoulder spring and autumn to obliterate the need for huge bulky clothes.
But towards the end of last year, even though I am in a beautiful, committed relationship to a man who just adores and trusts me to live my life with no betrayal to us, and vice versa, I found myself feeling somewhat lonely (whilst meeting new people everyday), restless (whilst constantly moving), bored (even though I see and experience more in day that some do in a year) and just a tad unsettled (yet this was my very own choosing wasn’t it?)
The irony of this insight is never lost on me.
Enter a pretend cat and bit pet rock!
It is not about needing to be in ONE PLACE forever; I am not that type. I have gypsy energy in my very DNA, and love traveling just so much. But after not having anywhere other than my heart and body to call “home” for 2.5 years, I was starting to inch towards the idea of a little space I could “claim” as my own. ENP is unraveling his life in SA too, and these global swallows need a new nest/s.
I remember the day I was housesitting the most GLORIOUS home right on the San Francisco bay, in Pointe Richmond and having this feeling of being so blessed by the beautiful home I find myself in whilst I travel, but I suddenly had this overwhelming longing to have a space for me. A space where I might be able to leave a costume and a pen, maybe even my art. A space I could imprint myself on. It was a little bit of a surprise. It also took the natural transition of my 50th Birthday in April this year to shift me into this next phase. I needed to close out some big commitments before I had the space for this phase.
So the logical heartwarming place for my first little space in the northern hemisphere was Greece. I am even toying with the idea of buying a home, but am rather just putting my feelers out this year. Getting to understand the lay of the land. What is it like to have another little base and how does that impact my life and me again? And others around me? And so, in the gorgeous, remote and truly authentic Greek village called Skala Eressos that I have been visiting for the past 3 years (with writers on our retreats), a space where I have built a community and with one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece, I found myself negotiating a contract for a light airy apartment for a year. A year!
Confession #1: It IS totally glorious to say I have a place I can call home EVEN though I will also “rent” it out to visitors, friends and colleagues. I have the coolest pet rock (see below) – my nan used to paint rocks so this is highly divine for me – but yikes, it’s a biggun, and will never fit into a case, so I guess I am destined to stay a while. See pic of beautiful rock complete with my name! It all came about when I asked my landlady if she had any door stoppers, a huge grin erupted on her face and she said she had a rock half painted, and she would complete it for me. All my favourite colours, the coolest of flamingos and my names emblazoned across it, lest I forget where I am.
Confession #2: Having a kitty on my bed again makes me deeply joyful. When my beautiful landlady said yes I could claim her little apartment as mine, she said I was an angel for her, but the truth is she is an angel for me. Letting me love her kitty, bringing me oregano bouquets, painting me my very own pet rock as a doorstop so I don’t wake the whole village when I sneak out to write my morning pages on the verandah, lending me a bike, fixing stuff I ask to be fixed and just being delightful – along with FANTASTIC English.
Confession #3: I am startlingly amused by just how insanely fast I wanted to buy “STUFF” Not a lot of stuff, for sure, but it is still amusing. And I want my Nan’s hand-made patchwork quilt here on my bed – NEXT TRIP! Unless you are coming to visit and will bring it with? And how Mum gifted me the most exquisite handmade, olive wood TAVLI – Backgammon set! Oh, the joys of a little place for STUFF!
Confession #4: I am plotting my return here – my coming BACK HOME. I have already started inviting friends here, seeing as I never pulled it off for my 50th earlier this year– 51 seems just as fabulous a time to gather on an island! Perhaps I can also entice my Mum to visit a second time with the pretend promise to eat more meals at home to stretch the budget.
Confession #5: I fell off my bike and swore like a trooper – because my sundress was hitched around my thighs and I got stuck as I hurled myself towards the pavement. It was a “boy” bike with a big crossbar and so as my huge, white sun hat flew off my head when going down the hill, I panicked and tried to slam on breaks to run after my hat before it picked up pace across the fields, never to be seen again. I just couldn’t extrapolate my legs and dress in time and got caught up in a heap. Tears welled, words flowed and I cannot tell you the relief after I had embarrassing walked my bike home with a bleeding toe and bruised ego, grease filled legs and finally turned the corner and saw “My home”.
Confession #6: Kitty food is now on my shopping list again. And I have a pet brush. Everyone laughed at me when I said I wanted one, but I found it in the Euro shop, and this kitty just LOVES being fussed over! Every now and then it feels like a betrayal to my beloved Stripey, but Nikos is my “pretend cat”. He is not really mine; I know that – just that we get to love each other furiously when I am here. When I told Ms. S that I was letting Nikos, the #gingersnap cat sleep on my bed, she nearly fell off her own feet. You are crazy Kate Emmerson. And yes I am, but when I walked home last night after devouring the most delicious “orange pie” oozing with syrup and a creamy cappuccino to wash it down, my heart did a little skip when I saw Nikos waiting for me at the end of the road – a bit out of his usual comfort zone. My Greek is shocking, so I speak to him in English, (other than a strong reprimand of OCHE when he wants to get agro) and we ambled off down the road side-by–side, ready for a little cuddle.
Confession #7: Yes. I miss you, ENP. Every day! But you are in Russia at the world cup with all your Argentinian lads, doing what you love to do, and that makes me happy! Enough said we will entwine again in a few weeks when in the same country again.
Confession #8: I deeply love that my office of choice, Gialos on the platea, has exceptionally kind owners, friendly kitties and the most heavenly view on the planet! Along with great coffee, conversation and a way to observe this little village and all its folk – from Drug dealer, to prostitute to writers, foreigners who return year after year after and the locals getting ready for thier work day. A great place for writers to simply sit and observe…
With love from me, to you, from Skala Eressos and my new “home” – for now x
(And yes, I will be IN South Africa for August and September for work :) )