|Typical moment in the life of a Modern Day Gypsy|
Back when I first moved to Philadelphia in June of 2011, I met a peer and colleague whom I had known of since competing against him in the first two years of the international youth ballet competition, Youth America Grand Prix (circa 2000). Robert Colby Damon, or Colby, had been working as a freelance artist for a few years by that point. I knew, with my 22-week contract, that I’d have to endure a small amount of freelancing work. But I had no idea what I was truly in for. Colby and I used to talk about his couch-surfing habits and his fly by the seat of his pants housing situations. I probably sat talking to him, mouth agape, trying to comprehend how he lived like this. Little did I know, that I was about to fly through my own crash course in modern day gypsy-ism.
|My First Gypsy Bed in NYC|
|My Washington Heights Sublet & My Weekly Packing Ritual|
One thing that a lot of people wonder is how I cope with the irregularity of this lifestyle. Honestly, sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes, I ignore my own needs and keep pressing forth to create my art and pay my bills. This is a bad way to deal with things. And as I learned back in 2014, it can lead to severe, nearly-crippling burn out. What I have found that helps is to acclimate fast, find what comforts you absolutely require, and to stay connected with people in your life in order to maintain some semblance of normalcy.
|Seen on my acclimation walk in Richmond, VA|
As for comforts, I know I’m a fully-grown man, but I travel and sleep with a little stuffed animal that my partner gave me as a gift the first year that I started traveling for work. I haven’t slept with a stuffed animal since I was a little kid. But the discomfort of sleeping somewhere foreign and having an empty bed makes this more comforting than you could imagine. Or in another case, if your morning routine requires coffee (like mine, and lots of it), if coffee isn’t readily available, buy some instant coffee. No matter how poor the quality of the brew, it will be comforting to know it is still somewhat within your control.
Lastly, be sure to keep communication lines open with friends and family. One of my biggest challenges, as my workload involves a great deal of in-studio and out of studio effort, is to make contact with those that I love and who love me back. Text messages don't always feel extremely personal. I like to use chat apps (like Facebook messenger), phone calls, or Facetime/Skype calls to have a full conversation versus broken apart text chats that may span days. I feel it is important for any gypsy to be surrounded by people they know beyond acquaintances on a regular basis, even if not in person. At times, I have felt like I was losing sense of who I was before I started freelancing. I used to have a group of friends and co-workers that would joke, tease, and laugh with (and sometimes at) me. Whether they were lovingly pointing out my flaws or supporting me in an unnecessary moment of distress, I always knew who I was as I saw my reflection in their attention. I lost this for some time as I became too focused on my work. So, be sure to note the factors that bring normalcy into your life and try to keep them with you on the fly.
Sometimes, I wish that I never knew what it felt like to be a gypsy. And part of the reason that I am residentially floating around New York City is to find a place to call my career-home. It’s both emotionally and physically exhausting. But at the same time, I find myself constantly peering back into history at my 15 year old self and imagining what he would think if somebody told him this would be his life one day. It’s fascinating and horrifying. Exciting and nerve-wracking. I don’t have long flowing garb or dangly earrings. I’m not quick-witted or sassy. I’m a 5’ 10’’ Jewish gay white boy who wears the same clothes that everybody else does. Yet, it wouldn’t be odd for you to see me pass you by with a carry-on sized piece of luggage dragging behind me. My name is Barry Kerollis and I am a modern day gypsy.
|Living that Gypsy Life|