America, Featured, Inside My Head

Address Required

9 Comments 13 December 2012

My mailbox

You’ve got mail…

I turned onto the gravel covered Main Street and thought – technically – this is my home. There is an unpaved street called Main Street, a bar, a restaurant, a few prefab homes, railroad tracks, and a rundown playground that could use a new coat of paint. There’s not even a church or a school in this town. This little town in South Dakota is technically my home according to the US Postal Service.

After half a decade of nomadic wandering around the globe as what some may call an ‘irresponsible bum’ – there is one important thing I have learned.

You cannot exist in this world and not have an address.

I’m reminded of this during the holiday season as I get requests for my address daily – apparently holiday cards are still something that people use the USPS for. But more than that, I find that in order to do any type of business – even virtual location independent business – people expect an address. In addition, the US government also expects you to have an address for taxes, voting, and things like a driver’s license. Credit card companies, banks, and online websites also expect addresses.

As much as it pains me – I’ve had to succumb and get an address.

My home on paper

My home on paper

How do you decide what address you’d like to have as a nomad. For me I didn’t have a lot of choices. For the first two years I continued to use a New York address and ‘borrowed’ the address of a friend. After realizing that New York was not a good place to call home when it comes to taxes, I decided to move…and ‘live’ with my parents in South Dakota. Yes – I am now considered a resident of South Dakota. I have a South Dakota driver’s license, I’m registered to vote in SD, I have insurance agent, and my banker actually knows my name.

My parents actually don’t even live in a town – they are in the countryside between two towns that are each about 5 miles away. The bigger town of Milbank (population 3,700) is where the banks and grocery stores and truck mechanics are – it’s pretty typical small town Midwest America. However my parents’ address is technically Twin Brooks, which is a tiny, miniscule town with a population of 68 people. Yes – 68.

Twin Brooks South Dakota

A welcoming town…

Main street Twin Brooks

Main Street in Twin Brooks

I ventured into to Twin Brooks recently to take my mom to lunch in the one restaurant in town that is just open for lunch. We went to a cute little restaurant (located in the former post office) along Main Street. After lunch I decided to drive around a bit to see this place I called ‘home’. My mom and I drove past the Gunslinger – the one bar in the center of town where we had experienced a big night out a few years earlier.  There are no paved roads in the whole town, no stop signs, and the church closed down a year and a half ago. Quite frankly – there’s really nothing there at all. However, as I drove over the railroad tracks I thought – if I have to have an address, this is as good of place as any to call home.

Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Brian says:

    The biggest concern we had about becoming perpetual travelers as U.S. citizens was obtaining health insurance. In the U.S., each state has its own rules and regulations. The availability and price of quality, guaranteed renewable, health insurance is determined by the state you live in. But we don’t really live in any state. What to do?

    There are a number of mail forwarding services that exist to provide legal residency to full time travelers. Most are geared toward retirees who R.V. full time but work equally well for any long-term traveler. We choose one in Texas (Escapees) for a variety of reasons but South Dakota and Florida also have popular services, too.

    • Brian I would love to know the best service for this address forwarding. I am presently in Georgia with family but my residence is still Los Angeles California, and I will have the license until 2015. So I am started this perpetual travel thingy and want to know the best place for taxes etc. Thanks for the advice.

  2. I kind of like the–what is it, symbolism? Irony?–of a person without a real address ‘living’ in a town with nothing in it. It’s like the town exists solely for people like you to call it ‘home’.

  3. Kirk Horsted says:

    NIce piece, my dear–and so close to home. Been there, do that! Your house look so much like the homestead my grandparents built in 1935 it’s like deja vu. The house still stands, but gets only summer visitors; G&G have moved on. I miss the whole scene, but remember it like yesterday. Enjoy it while you can. Welcome home…*kirk

  4. I’ve been on the road for less than a week and I have realised a few times already how painful it is to be without an address. I will also need to make some type of plan with this.

  5. Yep. Me too. Mine is a forwarding service in Florida, where there are NO state taxes.

  6. budget jan says:

    That is an amazing place to call home.

  7. Bob Buttke says:

    Sherry- I came across your blog today as I was reminiscing about my home town- Twin Brooks! I grew up 4 miles SE of town on a small farm that we still own but our social life revolved around Twin Brooks. It was about 100-120 people in the 70′s, with a grocery store, elevators, gas station, cafe, post office, and of course Gunslinger’s! The real Gunslinger (the former owner) is alive and well. It was really a hopping little town, with a softball team, 4H club, school and lots of community spirit (which it still has). My parents spoke fondly of the former dance hall, which used to draw from all of the suppounding communities. When you are back in the Midwest sometime, look on line for the Twin Brooks Threshing Bee, with the antique equipment and harvesting techniques. It is really a great community event.
    I have lived in St Louis, Chicago, New York, Boston, Brussels and Toronto but Twin Brooks will always be home. When I recently lost my father, almost all of the current and former residents of Twin Brooks attended the funeral/visitation or reached out to us in some way. Twin Brooks has been hit hard by the forces affecting rural America, but the community’s spirit lives on.


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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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