Zingara? Sì, Grazie!

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 what?”

“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.

wildsgroup2I 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.

riverI 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 ….

wildsgroup1I 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.