A final glance behind then I stepped into the bright warm afternoon sun in late August 2018 and closed the door for the last time. On the drive, the back seat of a small borrowed car easily held my few clothes and remaining possessions and I had nowhere to call home.
Not for the first time in my adult life, I was homeless.
More than twenty years ago I was young and full of energy, totally without responsibilities and free to do as I pleased. My few items of furniture went into storage and with a brand new rucksack I set off to see the world. I didn’t even think about what would happen after the money ran out.
But you have a young man’s outlook on life and your place in the world in your thirties. Becoming deliberately homeless at the age of thirty-two is a different proposition to doing the same thing in your late fifties. I had sold my home which was no small thing, and there was no going back. “So how does being homeless at 57 feel?” I asked myself.
The truth I realised was that it felt surprisingly good. At fifty-seven I was older and wiser, but still free of meaningful responsibilities and once again aching for adventure. Nothing had changed; I was still thirty-two in my head.
I had been planning, preparing and dreaming about this particular adventure since turning fifty. Seven years later the passion was still there. Putting the house up for sale, accepting the buyer’s offer and completing the sale were all stepping stones towards making the dream a reality. Suddenly I was handing over the keys, my home belonged to someone else and it no longer felt like a dream, it was for real; the adventure was imminent.
Since handing over the keys to what used to be my home, my appreciation of homelessness has, if anything, grown. I like not having the responsibilities which accompany homeownership. I’m happy to lose the hassle and worry of maintaining and fixing things. A sunny evening reading a newspaper in the garden with a beer is relaxing and rewarding; planting, pruning and weeding are not. I don’t even want to be responsible for a set of keys. I like being responsible for nothing and no-one, other than myself.
I guess that means I’m selfish. Is that wrong? Does it make me a bad person? Does it make me an even badder person if I admit that I don’t care?