Until a few days ago, I never really spent a lot of time thinking about the dictionary’s definition of the word “gypsy.” It was just a word that I’ve heard used over the years to mean different things – people who live in colorful wagons and travel around the country-side; people who live in other countries and beg or pickpocket; people who wear brightly colored clothing and sit around a campfire at night singing songs while others play stringed instruments and drums; people who move around a lot; the topic of a popular song sung by Cher when I was a teenager. But recently, a number of people who’ve heard about my “life-style” have asked me if I’m a gypsy. Since I never really thought about what that word really means, I would kind of shrug my shoulders a little and say yeah, I suppose.
My definition of “gypsy” when the word is used to describe the life I’m living right now is this: one who has no fixed place to call home, who lives in a tiny trailer, who moves from place to place, whose pets have more than one vet located in more than one state, who sometimes has the privilege of staying in someone’s driveway for a month or two or maybe even longer, who could hook up and leave in less than an hour’s time to go somewhere else.
So here’s the definitions from Dictionary.com:
- a member of a nomadic, Caucasoid people of generally swarthy complexion, who migrated originally from India, settling in various parts of Asia, Europe, and, most recently, North America.
- Romany; the language of the Gypsies.
- ( lowercase ) a person held to resemble a gypsy, especially in physical characteristics or in a traditionally ascribed freedom or inclination to move from place to place.
- ( lowercase ) Informal. gypsy cab.
- ( lowercase ) Informal. an independent, usually nonunion trucker, hauler, operator, etc.
For the past six years, I’ve used the words “gypsy” and “nomad” to describe the kind of wandering I’ve done around the West Coast of the United States, ever since my home was foreclosed and I’ve been “technically” homeless. Even as a younger person with a little baby, I never wanted to “settle down” and have a house some place (we moved around a lot until the baby was 10 years old, and then I stopped in one place until he graduated from high school). I have never wanted to own a home, own property, or own lots of things that I then needed to take care of. I wanted to be free to travel around, be a nomad, move from place to place. “Coming home” always sounded like a horrible curse to me; it’s something I never wanted to do. Fine for other people, but not for me. And just because I chose to travel around the West Coast while I had my dog and cats with me instead of traveling the world without them, it doesn’t make me any less of a gypsy. It’s the wandering, nomadic, gypsy life-style that I’m describing as mine.
So, yes, I’d say I’m a gypsy. My description of the life I’m currently living fits nicely with the last part of #3 in the Dictionary.com definition above. I certainly have always had the “inclination to move from place to place” for as long as I can remember, even as a little kid (oh, do I have stories to tell!), and I doubt that it’s going away any time soon. So, whether you’re a gypsy at heart, a gypsy in “real” life, or a home-body who calls themselves a traveler but can’t get away from having a real-life house or apartment to come home to, let’s travel this road together, have some fun, eat some food, go on some adventures, and drink some coffee. Who’s with me?
What’s your definition? Do you think of gypsys as an ethnic group? As pickpockets to be aware of in Rome, Italy’s Termini Station? As a close-knit group of people who take care of their own? As people who don’t have a permanent home base somewhere, who travel around the state/country/world? Or something else entirely?
See you out there on the road, in the airport, on the bus, riding the train! Happy gypsying!