There was a time in my life I was living out of a van and loving it.
The year was 2005. I had just moved back to Ohio after living on the west coast of Florida since 1987. I was in between places, trying to decide if I should move to Cleveland, or stay close to my friends in Akron.
I found a good-paying full-time job. I didn’t know where to live, so I was bouncing around from couch to couch.
I was having breakfast with my family one day, when my mom started telling my aunt what a whirlwind life I was living.
“Tell her about your socks and underwear,” she said. “How you have to dig around in your van at 5:30 in the morning looking for a clean pair.”
Everyone had a good laugh, and then my Italian aunt blurted out, “You sound like a zingada!”
“A zingada. An Italian gypsy woman!”
I decided I really liked that name and I wanted to be called that. I told my friends about it, and they still call me a zingada to this day.
OK, I am proud to admit — I am not one to stand still. I love living my life not knowing what the next day brings.
Today, I just realized I never knew how to spell that word. I decided to look it up and had a lot of trouble finding it, but thanks to the magic of Google Translate, I realize I’ve been spelling it wrong all along.
I’m a zingara. A ZINGARA!
So now you are probably wondering why I decided to bring up this story. On April 1, 2016, I became a zingara again. I had been staying in a house in Beckley, but the landlord decided to rent her house out to a young man with a three-year-old daughter. I had finished painting the downstairs unit and it was time to pack it up and move again.
I got myself a P.O.box and a storage unit, undecided on a place to move. See, good places in Beckley are really hard to find, especially when you are earning a minimal living stipend. Plus, a lot of landlords don’t care to fix up their tiny apartments. I have looked at places where urine-stained mattresses lie on the floor and doors hang off the hinges. One gentleman gave me directions to a place in Oak Hill where someone had just been evicted. I asked him what I was supposed to do with all the trash on the porch. He told me I could clean it up before I moved in.
With five months left in my term, I decided to go back to being a zingara again. I slept in the office one night, then found a woman in town who was willing to rent a small room – per night – when I needed it. I love being free, I really do. A lot of people find it hard to live this way.
I have been talking to my friends in Fayetteville, hoping to share some space with some folks during rafting season. I have all my favorite campsites lined up already. I am just waiting for the weather to grow warmer and drier.
There are some amazing spaces in West Virginia. Who cares if I have to dig for clean socks and underwear!
Hey, speaking of amazing spaces ….
I just updated my Appalachia photo album, so please check it out. You will also see some interesting photos sprinkled throughout this post. They are from a tree-planting event I attended in Appalachia Ohio on my way home for Easter. What a great crew of people who traveled to The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. It is an amazing story of abandoned mine land reclamation, so please take a peek at this interesting timeline. I was happy to take part in a “Mayor’s Day” event, in which we planted over 2,000 trees.