When you know you're ready to start nesting...

What would a space look like that I’ve created for myself? How do I want my home to function: as a place of relaxation, as an office/residence, as a home base for a range of activities? What’s a home to me?

It’s been many years since I had my name on a lease. I’ve lived in Airbnbs and hotel/guest rooms roughly since I graduated from college, so I haven’t had the need to answer such questions above.

But last month, I signed a lease with my good friend Alexis and made my residence in Denver official. It took up a lot of would’ve-been-writing time to scour Craigslist and Zillow for good housing options in this “crazy hot housing market,” but once we narrowed our focus on one, it was a matter of hours between touring the space, completing our applications, and securing it as our new home.

Moving to new apartment in Denver

Building My Nest

I don’t own a lot of things. This is something people are often surprised to hear because how can someone my age not have a car… a bed… more than one pair of shorts…

But on move-in day, it took one elevator ride to carry in my possessions and mere minutes to unpack what few things I owned into my new space.

Since that first exciting day, I’ve been shopping for home goods like I still get a paycheck. I know the IKEA retail layout by heart, shortcuts and all. I now own a bed, nightstands, lamps, shelves, chairs, consoles, even plants!

I bought items to bring me comfort, to make spaces in which I could be productive and social. I gave homes to the many paintings and keepsakes I’ve collected abroad, letting those fond memories become daily reminders to myself and to others of the cultures I witnessed in the past decade of travel. Big photographs of my favorite vistas are on their way.

What If Restlessness Sets In?

“Nesting” has required a complete change of mentality, as if I’m finally buying anchors after years of loyalty to jetpacks. But I have yet to get the sweats from seeing all my new earthly possessions. I have yet to regret transforming from a rolling stone to a mossy boulder. (How many metaphors can I use in one paragraph…)

My last international trip before arriving in Denver, kayaking around icebergs in Iceland with colleague/friend Matt Cook

My last international trip before arriving in Denver, kayaking around icebergs in Iceland with colleague/friend Matt Cook

When I left my job and the transient lifestyle, a lot of people were excited for me, albeit curious to see if I might get restless or bored in one place. I wondered the same but was convinced it was my time to test this settled life regardless.

Because for years, I struggled to leave my friends and family behind with every flight, even though I knew how lucky I was to be boarding those flights. Even though I liked where I was headed. And it was tiring—physically and emotionally—to pack up possessions that felt increasingly worthless and sleep in one more IKEA bed. Apparently all that movement, all those time zone changes, and many awkward nights of sleep gave me adrenal fatigue, amongst the effects of constant travel that could be measured or pinpointed.

My body was ready to be done with perpetual travel years—and many backpacks—ago, but I don’t think I was mentally ready for that change until this year, when I clarified a dream to pursue, picked a destination to land in, and gave myself enough time to say goodbye to my TGS community and soak in those final months of living abroad. It took time to prepare myself to return to a home country that felt increasingly foreign. A place from which I could no longer escape.

Is Nesting Everything I Thought It Would Be?

This period has been just as satisfying as I imagined it would be, perhaps more. I’m happy to be domesticated. I’m pursuing every stereotypical experience I’ve seen on TV—e.g. eating Chinese food out of the box by candlelight on move-in night—not wanting any part of this experience to pass me by. Heck, I might go mattress shopping again just for fun.

Sure, this is my blog, and I can post whatever I desire, anything from brain farts to literary prose (ha!). But I don’t write all this to imply that my desires to mattress shop are noteworthy for the masses.

I know some of you reading this are travelers who wonder what it will be like for you when you stop moving and land in one place, if that’s on your radar. This is that “settling” moment that can tease or haunt someone untethered, and I’m trying to understand why it has been so doggone easy for me to switch from one lifestyle to its opposite.

Perhaps seeing my space, hearing my experience, knowing my comfort in settling helps you realize whether “nesting” is something you’re ready for, too.

The Unexpected Effect of Nesting

Lindsay fixing her nightstands from IKEA at new apartment in Denver

It’s a little surprising to say that having a home has resulted in feeling more like an adult, as if I invested in myself and made a wager that this would be a purposeful, productive year. Not just in my life but in this chosen community, over all others to which I have access.

Finally having this feeling makes me wonder if those bouts of existential questioning were more rampant while nomadic. What am I doing with my life? Where do I belong? Towards what am I building? Often as a guest, I felt like a leach or a child, even if I was with close friends or family who clearly expressed that I was welcome.

For me, claiming residence (and perhaps turning 33) has seemed to spark a turning point in my adulthood. I’m ready for new types of adventures. I’m ready and equipped to play the long game with many of my life goals, writing included. I’ve been a short game girl since I graduated college and became a floater. Having a home is about to change my whole approach to time. I can feel it.

Are you also a nomad contemplating whether it’s time to build a nest or a home base? What do you think are some of the surprising effects of having such a space as a frequent traveler? Comment below and let’s have a dialogue.