Experiencing Community When Living Life Untethered

Updated: Dec 1, 2019

Some of our family members & friends who have helped make this adventure possible for us, including Oscar, our Grand Dog!

by Pat Giniger Snyder

A few weeks ago, when my sister was vacationing with her husband in British Columbia, she told me about their Airbnb host who gave them fresh fruit and veggies from their farm and invited them over for cocktails. It got me thinking about community, and what that means when you live an untethered life like Adam and I do. As I’ve said before, we have been digital vagabonds since December 2016, living in one place usually for a month or more at a time.

Adam in Deale, Maryland

Let me first confess that Adam and I are both hermetic. We find our “center” when we’re alone rather than being surrounded by people. Sure, we like a good party and seeing friends, but when all is said and done, we prefer to cozy up to a fire reading or watching a movie/favorite TV series. My parents were the opposite. They loved talking to strangers, hosting and going to parties, and were always doing something with other couples. I think my sister is more like my parents.

Before we sold our home in NYC’s exurbia, Adam definitely had more of a social life than I did. Tennis, bridge, poker, and watching sports were all lynchpins in keeping him connected with childhood friends and new ones. As for me, one of my closest amigas had recently passed away, and my other BFF’s, including my sister, all lived many miles away. I was deep into aloneness when we put our stuff into storage and began this adventure.

Since we’ve been on the road, we’ve managed to create a sense of community in somewhat nontraditional ways, like when we were in Las Vegas for several months, where our daughter, Lili, and her fiancée, Stewart, lived and worked in politics. In addition to spending time with them, we volunteered to canvas to get out the vote for the 2018 election. Friends even came from the East to knock on doors with us! But in general, our community there was primarily young people who, like us, believe that one of the few things you can do to create change is to vote!

Me with friends from the East knocking on doors to get out the vote!

Adam also went to the Bellagio’s Sports Book almost every Sunday to watch football, where he always found his community of gamblers yelling and screaming at every touchdown, fumble, and bad call. His community may have changed each week, but there was definitely a sense of camaraderie, unless of course, they were rooting for opposing teams. Even that had its bonding moments.

In Eden, our home for three months earlier this year and two months last, we became friends with the parents of a colleague of Lili’s who coincidentally lived in this Utah Utopia. I joined Alan’s yoga class, where twice a week I loved doing the postures, but also the “schmoozing,” as Adam called it, afterwards. We saw Alan and his wife, Dorothy, frequently, and even had a small party at our home when we had friends visiting from NYC. Our cousins, who have a vacation home in Eden, were also there for a few weeks, and we saw them often, too, including the day when Adam and Jay went mountain biking and Adam got altitude sickness and couldn’t move. But that’s another story.

Alan (and Adam at the air balloon) in Eden

Adam and I spent April and May of this year in Barcelona (where we had lived in the 1980s), and there we had a rich social life. We had old friends in the building and not far away, and spent many hours at lunches and dinners discussing the latest political happenings in their country and ours. We even went to a Mishima rock concert where our friend is the lead singer. Adam’s sister and husband also visited us for a week, and we got to show them the hidden gems of Barcelona, Girona and nearby France. We hosted a party for them with some of our Barcelona friends, as well as our son, Kasey’s, best buddy and his family from Shanghai. It was a perfect convergence of three worlds.

"Framily" on the rooftop terrace of our Barcelona "home"

Another place we felt a deep, but very different sense of community was during our trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where we traveled with Lili, Stewart and Kasey (check out our blog). Adam and I had been there nine years earlier, when Adam was writing a book called Graced with Orange, with Jamie Amelio, the founder and CEO of Caring for Cambodia (CFC), that builds and operates schools in Siem Reap. Our entire family volunteered at a CFC schools, painting the walkways. It felt great to connect the dots between our kids and this remarkable organization.

Family and friends volunteering at a CFC school
Mr. Singh and Adam saying goodbye in Delhi

Sometimes the feeling of connection comes in small moments, like when we said goodbye and thank you to our driver, Mr. Parlok Singh, in India. We had been together for six days, traveling in the Golden Triangle from Delhi to Jaipur to Agra and back to Delhi. He really took care of us, guarding us from the country’s frenetic pace, and sharing insight about his life in India. We felt so connected after such a short period of time.

A similar moment happened when Lili visited us when we were in Montenegro. We had the most delightful cocktail hour on our rooftop terrace with the young owners of our Airbnb. The highlight of the evening was when they emotionally told us that after years of trying, they had just learned they were expecting their first child, and that we were the first people after their parents they had told. If that’s not community, I don’t know what is.

Of course, when we visit Shanghai, DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, Texas and New York, where family and our close friends live, the aloneness of being untethered becomes filled with an abundant sense of belonging. Many are the people whom Adam calls “enablers” – framily who let us stay with them, collect and send us our mail, and put up with our crazy life choice!

And then there is the community of two – Adam and me. We’re so fortunate because after 43 years of marriage, we really love being together. With the things that matter most, we are totally on the same page, including living life untethered. As we said in our vows, “We are each other’s luck.”

When all is said and done, we feel deeply connected to a lot of people who have and are enriching our lives – from the Airbnb host in Las Vegas who brought us a special gift for being such reliable guests, to the Facebook friends who supported me after my horse accident in Texas, and most recently, to a high school friend, Ellen, who I haven’t seen face-to-face in 50 years, but who invited us to stay in her vacation home in the Colorado Rockies. Each night there we watched magnificent sunsets from the living room and every other day hiked miles and miles of mountain trails just across the street. At that remarkable piece of heaven 8,162 feet above sea level, it was easy to have a clear perspective and know that our community, though unique and ever-changing, has given us so much strength and love and joy. We are eternally grateful…

Sunset in Avon, Colorado

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