Soo, I debated just giving you the short version bullet point style, but decided that, for those of you who like details, you deserve a better update than that. For those of you who DO just want bullet points:
-still homeless some more
-back in DC, but this time in an apartment
-lost carseat (but it’s back now)
-baths and wine and masquera can fix things
The longer version goes like this:
We’re still homeless and have been for four weeks and two days now (but hey, who’s counting?) We’ve been jumping from location to location including the homes of generous friends, family, and various mediocre hotels.
Last week Winston’s grandfather passed away, so we packed up once again and checked out of our hotel; only this time we got on a plane and we flew to Birmingham. We had to buy clothes because, of course we were not prepared to attend a funeral when we left the camper; we had to tell a sob story to the airline in order to get the baby on board because we don’t have his birth certificate with us; and a bottle of baby shampoo exploded in my suitcase. The good news is the shampoo somehow missed our dress clothes that were also in the there and now my bag smells like a baby. But other than that, getting there went fairly smoothly and once we got there we had a really wonderful visit with family.
While there, we got the news that some more damage had been found on the travel trailer and it would be (at least) two more weeks. Yes. I said TWO. MORE. WEEKS. So, weary of the idea of more hotel rooms, we booked an apartment back in DC.
The flight back was also a late one and I thought we were going to have sneak the baby on the plane in my carry on (note to self: start carrying proof of son’s identity around with me). They finally let him on the plane, but they got their revenge by leaving his carseat in Orlando during a layover….
Our flight got in at 11:00pm EST day before yesterday and we were picked up and housed that night by a saint-of-a friend who promptly made us cocktails and then sent us to bed. The next morning we left before 7am with a carseat we borrowed from the airport and made the hour trip back to our camper because in order to pay for the aforementioned apartment all upfront, well, we needed our spare credit card (*sigh*) which we do not carry with us.
Note that all of this had happened in the past week and that piled on top of another three weeks of homelessness and hotels before that. We got to the camper, but Winston wouldn’t let me in because he said seeing it all taken apart would stress me out.
Well, not seeing it but knowing it was taken apart stressed me out anyway and I sat there thinking about how I’m sick of wearing the same few outfits over and over. I’m sick of hotels and laundry mats. I’m sick of eating crappy food….
…We went to a coffee shop and I’m still listing in my head all the things I’m sick of…
I am sleep deprived and un-showered, wearing yesterday’s clothes (yes, the ones I wore on the plane. Eww) and not wearing any make up and I’m stewing about thee things as we walk up to the counter and then…Well, then the prettiest girl I think I’ve ever seen took our coffee orders. Maybe some of you ladies can relate to this; maybe not and stress just morphs me into a pathetically shallow human being; but in any case, that moment, that was the last straw. The one that broke this camel’s back. I wanted to hide from her and her perky smile and her perfect, super long eyelashes.
We came back to DC that afternoon and found our way into “our” apartment. And I sulked and then I cried. At last all the stress settled to the bottom of my thoughts and I cried. For the first time since the beginning of all this mess, I really just let myself be pissed and sad and disappointed. And then I took a bath and I drank some red wine. And ya know what? It got better.
Sure, this situation isn’t what we asked for. This isn’t exactly the trip we set out to take; the one we’d dreamed about for years, but, it is a trip. And how many people can say they have the guts to even attempt to do what we’re doing? And I may not have all my clothes, but I have a lot of clothes. And I may not have all my cooking supplies, but we’re going to the Farmer’s Market this weekend and that’s good enough for me. And we got the carseat back. And now we have this apartment and I have a kitchen and a bathtub and a washer and dryer. And never underestimate how much better a shower and a little masquera can make you feel.
Shipwrecked (Or how we went from being homeless to homeless-er)
Our dear (brand spankin’ new, I might add) The Spirit of Adventure has proven, on her maiden voyage, to not be so seaworthy.
Okay, okay. I know she’s not a boat, and we don’t travel by sea, but there was water involved in her demise non-the-less.
Sadly, a few days ago we discovered that our camper trailer had sprung a leak. It all began when Winston noticed a wet cardboard box that was sitting by the sofa, waiting to be unpacked. He thought it was spilled incense oil (a bottle of oil, did in fact leak), so he just took the offending bottle outside and thought that was that. But it wasn’t oil pooling on the floor. It was water. The next day, there was water creeping in by the sink. By now we were getting nervous. But when our grey tank (the holding tank for what goes down the drain in the sinks and shower) magically filled up overnight we knew something was seriously not right. So we turned off the water connection, emptied the tanks, and set about finding a service center that could take a look.
Well, long story short: bad plumbing, missing drain, gallons of water pooled underneath, inside our insulation. Apparently best case scenario is the insulation just needs to be replaced. Worst case…water damaged the flooring and it’s totaled.
The good news is that because it was all manufacturing error, the warranty covers it all. The bad news is that apparently warranty companies are insurance companies’ twin brother and the service center can’t even further investigate the issue until they get permission to do so. The other bad news is that this means that for the time being…we are homeless. You know..more homeless than we meant to be.
So, we’ve been house hopping and staying with some amazingly generous friends and tomorrow we’ll look into getting a hotel here in town. My college roomie says she’ll send me a cardboard box, so you know, at least we have options.
This isn’t exactly the kind of adventure we were imagining when we left, but we’re trying to take it in stride. It’ll make a good story later, right? Right? (Just say yes. At least until we have somewhere to live again).
Today was finally Grocery Shopping Day. We’d eaten pretty much the last scrap of food that we brought along from the apartment, so it was an overdue trip. During the week of packing before we left, we were pretty much living off of random frozen meals…They were organic frozen meals, but still frozen and I think Winston and I both missed eating real food. So we hunted down the nearest local market and I stocked our very tiny kitchen. (“Stocking up” has a very different meaning now than it used to…)
My goal, not just while we’re living on the road but just in general, is to eventually be buying 90% ingredients. What I mean by that is that eventually I want my shopping bags to be 90% things that you use to make other things and only 10% things that come with ingredient labels; and if I can leave out packaging such as boxes, bags, and cans even better.
Today, I was off to a good start. I did buy bread because I’m terrified of my oven in this thing. Everything I’ve tried to make in it turns out half raw, half carcinogenic. If someone just felt like giving me a bread maker, I wouldn’t turn it down, but seeing as how that’s not likely to happen, I suppose I’ll have to study and experiment with my new oven soon.
On another note…I’m hoping to keep blogging regularly to keep peoples back home up to date on what we’re up to (though, keep your eyes peeled for our “official” trip blog that we’ll be doing together as well a website to map our current location!).
THAT being said, what do you guys want to hear about? Did my amazing post about groceries scare you off? Do you want to only hear about our adventures? Do you want updates on Win? What do you like in a blog? Why do you follow the blogs that you do?
Day to Day
Yesterday we left Nashville behind and today we pulled into a camping spot at Pocahontas State Park just outside of Richmond, VA! It’s happened at last…This just got real.
I wish I could say that the moment we finally got into the truck and drove off into this new chapter of our life was more dramatic or emotional or epic-feeling. But honestly, it was just a whirlwind of busy, stressful, “to-dos” and a string of “goodbyes” and then relief that the packing and sorting was over at last.
Then when we got onto the interstate it was drizzling. It was grey, miserable, and-with a giant apartment being towed behind you on wet roads-somewhat terrifying at times.
We made it past Bristol, but not quite to Roanoke before we stopped in a Walmart parking lot (did you guys know that Walmart parking lots turn into small RV parks after dark??) to get some sleep last night.
We drove another four or so hours this morning, feeling exhausted, in need of a shower, and with somewhat dampened spirits-weighed down by all the stress of late. But when we pulled in…..
When we pulled into this campground, we rolled the windows down. It was about 67 degrees and sunny with a breeze. We got ourselves situated and our spirits began to rise. By the time we got all the doors and windows of the camper open, all three of us were smiling without ceasing. Suddenly the stress just melted off and all doubts and cold feet disappeared.
I can’t wait for all the exploring and adventures we’re going to have…but even more, I just can’t wait to see what the day to day has in store for me and my little nomadic family.
Packing Without Baggage
Five days. That’s how long until we embark on our adventure. I wish I could tell you that we’re all ready to go and that I spend my days twiddling my thumbs in anticipation, but unfortunately that is not the case. What is actually happening is that my apartment is becoming an ever-growing series of gigantic piles of stuff. There’s the “go to storage” pile, the “take to the RV pile, the “take to Goodwill” pile, the “this goes to a specific person” pile, and then there are all the small piles of “we need this while we’re still here, but eventually it will come to the RV with us” things.
One surprising thing about these piles though, is that the Goodwill pile has been continuously keeping up with, and possible surpassing the Storage pile. I’ve been purging my home and my life of unneeded items and learning a hell of a lot about myself in the process. Seriously. If you want to peer into the depths of your own soul and find out what really matters to you, move into a 300 sq ft space and a 5X10 storage unit.
When I was a little kid, I had an intense, probably unhealthy, attachment to my belongings. I had nightmares about house fires and feared tornadoes above all else. One April, during a very long day of one tornado after another, my sister and I literally brought everything we owned into the basement in between warnings. Of course then nothing happened and we had to bring it all back upstairs, but to me it seemed worth the trouble to make sure my stuff was kept safe.
And I don’t think it was because I was just materialistic. At the root of it, it was because what I really feared wasn’t losing my things, it was losing memories. It seemed to me that if I forgot a part of my life or something that had happened to me, it was the same as if it had never happened, and I was terrified of forgetting. I don’t know why, but I believed from a very, very young age that I was only as valuable as the sum of my experiences and so I carefully collected as many physical manifestations of those experiences as I could to prove to myself that I was living a valuable life.
When I was ten or eleven I got my first camera and I was immediately obsessed. I took pictures of everything. At summer camp, I carefully recorded every important moment and made sure to capture a snapshot of every person that I had close contact with. It got to the point where I was more worried about documenting events than I was about enjoying them.
Throughout high school I kept everything that could ever remind me of anyone who ever meant anything at all to me. I’m not exaggerating. I squirreled away anything with a memory attached to it from notes, to dried flowers, to a starburst wrapper, to a used up glow stick. What to other people would have looked like shoe boxes of garbage, looked to me like treasure chests full of proof that I was important; proof that I was loved.
Slowly, as I’ve gotten older and as I’ve gotten more confident in who I am, possessions have come to mean much less to me than they used to. When I went to college I got rid of a few things. When I got married, I got rid of a lot more. And with each of the two moves my husband and I made after that, my list of worldly belongings has kept getting shorter. Now with this newest change, I’ve been forced to become even more intentional about what stays and what goes. And it’s been really, really difficult, but it’s also been really freeing.
I still love photos, but sometimes I’m having so much fun that I completely forget to take a single picture. I love to take walks down Memory Lane with people and recount tales of times past, but sometimes the details are fuzzy and it makes the stories that much better. I still have a few things that I hold onto: my favorite childhood doll, love notes from Winston, a bracelet my late grandparents gave me when I was eight, my wedding veil that my sister made me. But I don’t hang my value on those things. And while I may not always remember everything, I don’t need to grasp at proof anymore that I am living a good life; I know that I am. And I enjoy it more when I leave all the baggage and the fears behind.
It’s All Happening
“It’s all happening” is a line from one of Winston’s and my favorite movies, Almost Famous. And it’s a line that we’ve been quoting to each other over and over the past several months as we’ve been getting closer to finally seeing the dream of living on the road come true at long, long last. Most of the time we’re giggling when we say it, but sometimes we’re just a little dumbfounded as the words fall out.
Today was a dumbfounded kinda day.
We picked up our trailer this afternoon. We signed the papers. We’ve put down money. And as we drove away with it swaying behind us on it’s maiden voyage we could only say, “It’s all happening”. It was almost a question, I think.
It’s finally all happening? Is this real?
We first began talking about this trip before we were even married. It started as a joke and then just grew from there. We had a disappointing cancelation two years ago and two pink lines on a stick last January told us we’d be delaying our dream again.
And now that it’s finally actually happening, it’s really hard to process! It’s like this uncatchable mist I’ve been chasing suddenly became tangible and now that I’ve caught it I’m not sure what to do with it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited! I can’t wait for all the adventures I’m going to have in the next couple years with my little family! But as I sit here typing away and sipping wine in what will be my permanent, roving home in less than a month it just feels so surreal.
It’s really, finally all happening.
And so…I’d like you to meet “The Spirit of Adventure”!
Home sweet home.
Keepin’ it Real
Broccoli quiche was on the menu for tonight, but when I started making it I realized that I’d bought the broccoli a little too long ago and more than half of it was getting slimy. Then I realized that I only had half of an onion because I was planning on buying another one at the grocery store today, but I never made it to the store. In fact, I never made it out of my pjs. But I had eggs and no one can’t call it a quiche if there’s at least eggs in it, so I made it anyway.
There’s garbage in the trashcan that I meant to take out yesterday, I think every dish I own is piled in the sink, the diapers that I somehow managed to wash are still in the washer because I never made it down to the dryer, and it was only when Winston asked me this evening where I’d been keeping the dirty diapers in the meantime that I realized I hadn’t changed the baby in *muffled mumble* hours. Oops.
Last night when I went to bed, I actually did have plans for today. Plans like get up and go to the Y, do some grocery shopping, clean up the kitchen a bit..nothing crazy, just a little productivity. What actually happened was that Win woke up at 4:00am and decided it was time to be up for the day. I missed my window of time before Winston had to go to work, so no Y. And then..well, I’m not really sure what happened. All I know is Win was cranky and I was cranky and today felt like a big waste of time and I could have easily gone to bed for the night by 5:00.
And as I was making my sort-of-broccoli quiche I reflected on the day and beat myself up for how “lazy” I’d been and how useless this day was. The thing is, I read a lot of mom blogs. Blogs in which they talk about how they cleaned their house with all-purpose cleaner they made themselves, while completing fabulous DIY projects, and cooking a three course meal for dinner all while their six kids play happily together. And I can’t help but think, “And I only have one little baby! Where are MY supermom skills? Shouldn’t they hand out capes with the birth certificate?”
When I made it back down to planet Earth, I thought about those moms and I bet if you asked any one of them they would tell you not every day is like what’s portrayed on those blogs. If they said otherwise they’d either be lying or…well, they’d just be lying.
Now, let me clarify. This is not a “mom blog”. At least that was never my intention, but I am a mom with a blog and I thought it was time for a post that keeps things real. Today wasn’t a waste of time. I played with my baby. I fed my baby. I fed myself and my husband. And ya know what? I’m okay with calling that success. Sometimes all you can ask for is that everyone survives til bedtime and is ready for a new day tomorrow.
I just made the appointment. Tuesday’s the day I say goodbye to my dreads and hello to this haircut! I should be sadder that the dreads didn’t work, but I’m so excited about taking the leap into such a bold haircut that I’m not really all that sad.
I guess most people find long hair to be more versatile and short hair more mundane, but I like having short hair. Styling long hair is too much work for this low maintenance girl and it always just ends up in a plain ol’ ponytail. Headbands, clips with embellishments, and hats let me change things up enough that I don’t feel bored with my hair, but it doesn’t take any work.
And let’s not forget the magic of a little hair gel.
Today is this guy’s first Christmas. He was about as psyched about it as you’d expect a three month old would be. Doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, but smiles about all the extra attention somehow while also being moody because traveling and being in new environments kinda messes up his routine.
Today is my 25th Christmas. I have not been as psyched this year as you’d expect me to be. I haven’t had much of a clue about what was going on most of the time either. I smile, but I’m kinda moody because traveling and being in different environments kinda messes up my routine.
I’ve felt a little like Charlie Brown this year. You know, how he wants to be in the Christmas spirit, but he’s just not feeling it so he’s pretty bummed out. Yeah. I hear ya, Charlie. I didn’t decorate this year because it’s everything I can do just to keep the house half way cleaned as it is. We never got a tree. We were less than inspired in the Christmas gift department and didn’t have a whole lot of budget to spare for them anyway. I didn’t do any Christmas baking, I haven’t seen more than two or three Christmas movies, and I didn’t go see the lights at Opryland.
The truth is, I’m kinda glad today is Christmas and it can all be over after this. I’m sure next year when Win is older I’ll have all my Christmas spirit back and we’ll have so much fun watching him experience everything for the first time, but this year I’m just as happy to let Christmas float on by, just marking the end of another year.