Sometimes I find it curious that at a stage of life where many people seem to care about putting down roots and creating security for the future, that I have chosen to do a bit of the opposite. By age 45, I think it's safe to say that most people are married or have been married, many are raising children of just about any age (depending on whether or not they started young), and most are fairly well established in their careers or businesses (though some take advantage of this time in life to explore new careers or business ventures).
I, on the other hand, have not yet married (and don't know if I ever will), am not planning on having kids, and I'm in career transition for the third time in less than a decade -- doing well at it but it's not running on auto-pilot yet. (The good news here is that I'm planning on writing being my LAST career... because I can't imagine anything better!)
Other people are seeking to put down or extend their roots because that's what makes them happy; I'm happier right now being rootless.
Others very sensibly put financial security first and figure they'll "run away from home and travel" later; I've run away from home to travel in order to CREATE more financial freedom for myself in the long run.
Others stay put because of the bond they feel with family and friends and familiar places; I feel like my bonds with those I love are strong enough to withstand geographic separation (love knows no boundaries) and as much as I love being with those people, right now I get more joy from the unfamiliar places I'm exploring and the risks I'm taking in "trying on" a new way of living -- and when I'm happy, I feel I have more love to give to those I love, even from a distance.
There is nothing wrong with being someone who seeks to be rooted, secure and estalished, just as there is nothing wrong with being someone who prefers a different and less rooted path in life. One way of living is not better than the other; each has value in its own right, depending on what's best for the individual. And what's clearly best for me right now is being sans roots.
Recently I met an American couple here in Paris, Vicki and Bob, who are a little bit older than am I, who have moved to France permanently in the past year. They first came to the decision that they wanted to live in Paris over 20 years ago and actually wanted to do it back then, but life and raising their daughters took center stage. In the interim years, they did manage to travel quite a lot, to something like 30 countries. After their youngest graduated college not long ago, they decided to wait no longer to make the move they'd dreamed of 20+ years earlier. They sold everything and decided to start fresh by committing to a year in Paris. Neither of them had work visas, either, so they figured they had enough to live on for a year and then they'd figure out their next move. Pretty bold stuff, huh? Well, it's been about a year now and Bob has unexpectedly found employment and Vicki is doing what a lot of ex-pats do here: teaching business English to French executives. They love it here and they are not planning to move back to the States. They first decided to give themselves a year to be rootless; now they seem to be putting down NEW roots here in the City of Light.
Will I end up doing the same? After giving myself permission to be rootless for a while, will I start to crave some roots again, either in France or even somewhere else? Will I, too, someday want security and a retirement plan? Only time will tell; fortunately being a writer is a career no one can force you to retire from -- I can make a living as a writer for the NEXT 45 years if I want to do so.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying my somewhat nomadic status. When people ask me how long I'm staying here, I respond: "As long as I'm still having fun." I'm OK with the element of the unknown right now. I have the creature comforts of a nice little apartment I can call "home", the fun of discovering new things around the city and beyond (as I am starting to make plans to travel around France and farther afield), and the fascination of meeting so many interesting people from all over the world.
The rest, I'm just making up as I go along, with no roots to hold me down. And it feels fabulous.