This is my nomad baby being a trooper in the car.
Today he turned 10 months old and this evening I tucked him into his 16th bed. Yup. So far he’s slept in 16 different beds in 7 different cities in 4 different states. At this point, he’s pretty used to moving spots. He adjusts quickly, even to sudden time zone changes. Honestly, his flexibility has been an inspiration to me as we’ve traveled. Change has never come easily to me before and the unknown can really stress me out, but through the last several months as we’ve bounced around in all the variations of this adventure, I’ve learned a lot about what stability really means.
Many nights, especially the first night in a new place, I talk to Win as he’s trying to settle into sleep and I always remind him, “We’re in a new place, but the same home. Because Home is wherever you and me and daddy are.” Cheesy? Maybe it sounds like it, but that concept is not only really important to a nomadic child, it has been important to me. Home isn’t a building; not for us anyway. Home is my family. Home can look like whatever and be where ever we choose. Once I was able to embrace that, I was able to surrender to the ebb and flow of this nomadic life that we’ve chosen.
And as of tonight…Home looks like a bright, colorful, cozy, renovated garage studio apartment in NE Portland, OR.
I can’t wait to get to know this city.
This is a perfect description of our life right now.
I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon as of late, but that’s mostly because things have been a jumbled mess of change, disappointments, excitement, stress, and peace. Yup, all of it.
In short, because of all the problems we kept having with our camper, we’re ditching the RV life for the time being and headed into full on nomad mode. Meaning, we’re packing all our worldly belongings into heavy duty boxes and just going wherever the wind takes us.
The wind’s first stop for us is Portland, OR and we couldn’t be more excited! We’ve rented an adorable studio apartment there for the months of August and September. After that…who knows?
It’s kind of an amazing feeling to be tied down by nothing. We could literally go anywhere we want to. We can do anything we want to. We’ve got no strings.
It’s true, this plan looks nothing like our last plan…but then, that plan looked nothing like our original plan. So, we could be bummed and feel trapped or we could just embrace this as freedom and believe that everything is, indeed falling into place. It’s just not the place we thought we’d land on. And that’s okay.
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.