In the days before we left I held folded laundry as if it were an anchor and cried secret tears of fear and doubt.
Tonight as I sit at my computer, a year after leaving home, my fears are not of the unknown but of the known. My fear stems from knowing what it’s like to live the fast paced American way, a life that is too busy to count the freckles on my children’s faces, too busy to watch the sunrise illuminate the changing leaves, too busy to take a friend’s call, and too busy to breathe those big gulps of air that fill every crevice of your lungs and leave you pleading with God to freeze time.
We were there and after 24,717 miles on the “scenic route”, the “fast lane”, especially in southern California where the speed is extra fast, scares me. I’m not afraid of a house without wheels—there are many wonderful things about having a home in a community—I’m afraid of a life without brakes.
This past year we have swam with manatees, canoed with alligators, explored caverns, visited almost 70 National Park sites, walked in many of the paths that shaped America’s history and numerous other things that I haven’t had time to write about yet but nothing, nothing, compares to the many slow hours with the boys and Brent. When I think back over this year the memories that stand out are cuddling on the couch with schoolbooks while the rain pours outside, sitting around the table as a family for 3 meals a day, and hanging out with my cat but that’s only because he hypnotized me and has nothing to do with being a crazy cat lady.
I feel like I have lived wonderful 10 years in one.
That’s not to say living on the road has been perfect. Raising a preteen in a 300 square foot space is not a fairytale for him or us.
Sitting on the side of the road
screaming obscenities fighting in front of the kids is not our proudest moment.
Convincing myself that my 9 year old son won’t get bit by a viper if I let him catch frogs in stream takes the courage and faith of a bungee jumper.
Pulling the boys our of a pit of “quicksand” makes a mess and nearly sent me to the psychiatric ward.
Watching friends go to parties on Facebook makes me feel like a left out 15 year old girl.
Wondering if a payment from a client is going to come through so we can fill our gas tank is not fun.
I still don’t like it (and may even drop a choice word or two) when cans or shoes or mouthwash come crashing out of cabinets onto my face because, for the life of me, I can’t remember that stuff shifts while we are driving.
Putting away groceries in our tiny fridge is like playing a game of Tetris that can’t be won.
I don’t even want to talk about the big black spider I killed in the campground shower this evening.
We have been forced to deal with each other. The good, the bad, and everything, oh yes everything, in between. When you are together all the time in a 300 square foot space there is no sweeping things under the rug. The rug is just too damn small and the dirt just too much. We lost that parental luxury of “pretending not to see” and oh how do I miss it! Problems are always two feet away and retail therapy isn’t an option when your closet rod is already breaking under the weight of too much stuff. I needed my leopard print wedges, damn it!
People always ask me what is the hardest part of living in an RV. Besides trying to convince myself I’m not “living in a van down by the river”, the hardest part is trying to deny the images my children reflect back at me and having no where to hide and no way to deflect the real me. I knew before we moved into a tiny space that I had “stuff to work on” I didn’t realize I was a “real piece of work”. (Okay well maybe I did but I was better at hiding it.)
That is hard.
Yet, it is all worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing except for spider free showers.
While our list of imperfections is great, God’s love is greater.
We may have a moody soon-to-be-teenager but we also have a preteen whose greatest influence right now is not tv or video games but experiencing life outside of the system. Someday when he is confined to a cubicle, he
better will think, “I had the coolest parents ever.”
We have an almost 10 year old boy who had gotten to spend countless hours exploring the woods, building fires, fishing, and catching frogs even if it meant his mother had to get an Xanax drip.
While our friends back at home are irreplaceable (You guys know how much I miss you!), we’ve reconnected with old friends all over the country and unexpectedly joined a community of like minded gypsy hearts.
Marriage is 300 square RV is at the same time mundane and magical because there is magic to be found in the mundane. You just have to slow down to see it and when you are stuck in a campground because the gas is almost $5 a gallon you can choose magic or mundane. I didn’t think it possible but a year later I love Brent more than before. I’m certain that someday my heart is just going to burst and, like confetti, be carried away on the wind. Go ahead and gag.
The person reflecting back in the mirror is amazingly even less put together than I once thought but I mysteriously feel more loved than ever before.
I could write so much more about places we have seen, the people we have met, and the freedom that comes with simplicity but that would need a book.
Yes, we have a list of memories as long as the miles we have driven and I wouldn’t trade this year of my life for anything in the world.
And we’re not done. One year wasn’t enough. We still have mountains to ski, highways to drive, states to see, but most of all, memories to make. Memories of boys who are too quickly becoming men and parents who, at heart, refuse to grow old.
Love and Laughter,
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