I've lived in this area almost 10 years and don't know more than five or ten roads by name. I can barely get around without GPS.
People describe places by approximation to local landmarks and I have no idea what they're talking about. When they talk about intersections it usually means nothing to me. I've probably seen more of Europe than Lake County.
I know how to get to a few restaurants and stores, my house, and the local airports. Otherwise, it's all unknown territory. I'm a stranger everywhere, but I'm pretty used to being a stranger.
I think I've approached living in this house the same way I approach living in a hotel when I'm out on a gig, learning only enough routes and places to meet my needs while I'm there. Roads I don't take, I don't know by name and don't know where they go or what they run past. Here to church. Here to lunch. Here to airport. That's it.
You know where Joe lives? By the golf course and the ball park? No. No I don't. I have no idea where that is.
I don't know any local people other than my immediate family and those who go to church with me. Being gone 50%, and having an unpredictable schedule makes it hard on new friends. Usually the second time you turn down an invitation due to being out of town, they quit inviting and find other people to invest their time in. No blame, it makes sense. Other people have more of a shared connection to the area and the people in it. Travelers are disconnected from people.
I meet hundreds of people a month, but I rarely recalls their names and faces, let alone associate them with events and activities. I pass through as a benevolent (I hope) blur or activities and information. A kind of friendly ghost.
I have great friends here, in small and very committed numbers. As an introvert, maybe that suits me better than a large number of acquaintances. I also have very good relationships with people in the industry who share my lifestyle. There are very good souls out there flashing from business to business and convention to convention. I am proud to know them.
Even coworkers: I see them on my large flatscreen monitors, hear their voices on speakers, see their words on forums and emails, and sometimes get to do work with them when neither I nor they are out of town dispensing wisdom and insight. But we maintain our relationships in bitesized pieces: a conversation here, and email there, a reminder or a photo from time to time.
Sometimes people talk about local people and events, and it reminds me that I don't really live here. I'm far more a citizen of the internet and the world than of my address.
I did meet one neighbor twice. Once when my buddy knocked his mailbox down accidentally, and once when he helped me pull a friend out of a ditch during a snow. I have never known his name. I don't know if he still lives in that house across the street.
But it's cool, too
It's weird, but it's also pretty cool. I've seen the Great Wall of China, the great cities of Europe, including London, Edinburgh, Paris, Munich, Budapest and more. I've seen the mountains in Switzerland, Germany, Scotland, New Zealand and more. I've heard more accents, eaten more things, met more people, learned more things than I ever dreamed possible.
It's an amazing ride.
I don't know if it suits me, or it changed me to suit it.
I have to remind myself that the people around me experience life very differently than I do, especially the ones who grew up here as children and are still connected to family and childhood friends they see every week or every month. Some of them are with their spouses and children every single day, for better or worse.
I'm happy for them, and for me.