Ten years in One – Our One Year Nomadiversary

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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About Jenn

I'm Jenn and I'm so happy you stopped by our little corner of the web. My favorite moments are cuddling with my boys, listening to the purrs of my cat, and sipping warm cups of tea. The smell of orange blossoms conjures up delightful memories of childhood even though I grew up in Indiana hundreds of miles from citrus groves. I love animals and when I'm stressed I dream of owning a goat farm. I love art, road trips, books, and food. Vintage clothes make me ridiculously happy. Red lipstick is my friend.

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22 Responses to “Ten years in One – Our One Year Nomadiversary”

  1. Missy Says:

    Aww man, I cried! This is beautiful and I’m so glad my phone is letting me comment today (I always read at work from phone but it rarely let’s me leave a comment). Anyhow, I just love this and you mentioned it would need a book to talk about it all. That’s what you need to do!! Write a book!! There, I’ve decided your new endeavor once you get back home – Jenn the Author 🙂


  2. Tamara Says:

    I cried, too. No gagging here. This moved me immensely, Jenn. Thank you, as always, for everything you share. I’ve got a little secret: every single one of us is a “real piece of work.” Always will be, however much work we do. And that is a-OK. Human, imperfect, lovely, amazing creatures, one and all. Love you! xoxo


  3. Lisa Says:

    Beautiful, beautiful


  4. Stephanie Says:

    Well. You did it again. That was just perfect! I was agreeing with EVERYTHING you shared! Life is so stinkin’ hard sometimes, whether you are in a sticks & bricks or an RV. The RV brings out everything. Like the caterpillar and the butterfly. One is ugly, growing and changing, and the other is AMAZINGLY beautiful. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing and your transparency.


  5. Melissa West Says:

    So much emotion and heart – I loved it! I can’t wait for our adventure of wonderful and messy to start.


  6. Meghan @ TheMeghanmix Says:

    This brings back awesome memories for me of the 8 month trip my family did when I was a kid 12 years ago. Your kids will TOTALLY be glad of their experiences and think you and Brent are the coolest parents ever.


  7. Rene & Jim Says:

    Bravo! I’m so happy for you guys, you’ve broken free of the chains of standard parenting and suburban lives, and are making your own way in this world. I love stories like this and am so happy to hear you’ll continue on. Maybe one of these days we can meet up on the road.

    Happy trails!


  8. Marina Brewer Says:

    Beautiful post!! Congrats of the anniversary of this amazing adventure. Being only on our 4 month out I share many of your fears and uncertainties and its great to know that I’m not alone. It was a pleasure meeting you guys and spending time with your family. Hopefully our paths will cross soon. Safe Travels and keep having fun!!!


  9. Norene NIms Says:

    Jenn, this is a stunning essay from your heart! Your courage in sharing your “intentional life” of experiencing life outside the box is inspiring.
    Each of you are in our prayers often through the days – God’s protections, and graces of beauty and enriching experiences, and peace in the midst of life living too close (that’s my bias – living in a “hut” in Africa) and the uncertainty of certain securities (“living by faith and not by sight..”) = You and Brent and your sons are very special. I love you so much! Mom N


  10. Melissa Says:

    First time reader and this is so how I feel! I found you via FOTR. We have been traveling for almost 5 years full time in February. I miss some of the “normal” life and many of our friends do not understand. I get frustrated as well, EVERY time I open a cabinet something falls out however, I know that this journey is totally worth it! We have added a kiddo while traveling and yes it was hard however, I will say that added a whole new angle to living in tight quarters. As you continue to live in tight confines you will learn even more about yourself and your husband..it is kinda amazing! Excited to keep reading! http://bashamtravel.blogspot.com/


  11. Rolland Lawrenz Says:

    Just amazing! Best wishes to you all, looking forward to reading all your other entries.


  12. Catherine Forest Says:

    I LOVE that post, Jenn. I resonate so much with what you say. The intensity, the joys, the nowhere to hide… Peeling layers of myself and feeling quite naked in front of my families that are help witness in our tiny living space… And yes, enjoying my children and partner more than ever. Thank you for this beautiful piece of writing!


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