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I laid in bed last night discussing this crazy journey that we’re preparing for with the husband. While he’s on board with becoming a full-time RV family, there is a part of him that truly didn’t understand it. You see, Tom and I lived very different lives as kids. Where he was raised by both his Mother and Grandparents, I was raised with both of my parents. His family attended church but weren’t overly religious; my father was a preacher. Where I grew up dirt poor in a trailer park, he grew up in what 10-year-old me would have considered rich. His vacations as a kid involved cruises and places like Disney. Mine involved 4 or 5 hours at the state park where my Dad would grill out and we’d swim in muddy water labeled a “beach.” Where my father never made over $20,000 in a year, he was raised by people making six figures or more.
Needless to say, the differences in how we were raised were vastly different. Most days the differences in how we were raised and our experiences until we got together don’t even come up. Sometimes they can cause misunderstandings though as we have been working through for the past few weeks. When he asked me last night to explain it “Barney style” (i.e. explain in very simple terms) why I want to travel full-time, those differences had never been more glaring.
“Do you know what it is like to have your entire existence defined by three or four counties?”
I know. I’m a 34 year old woman who is perfectly capable of going out and doing whatever she wants within reason, but we all know that the experiences that we have as children shape who we later become as adults at least in some ways. While he had a childhood filled with experiences, I did not.
I remember going to DC with the school. I was 11 and can still remember how small the Washington Monument made me feel. I once went to Chicago with a church group. For whatever reason, we ended up not spending much time at all seeing the city and instead spent most of the trip at the family restaurant of one of the church leaders.
Another time I went on a college visit near Myrtle Beach. We never left the campus. In 2015, I traveled to NYC for business, but since it was a business trip, we didn’t see much other than the hotel and where the conference was held.
In short, I’ve lived an extremely sheltered life. And I want different for my daughter.
When he asked, I explained – in painstaking detail that I’m sure made his man-eyes roll into the back of his head and his brain shut completely down – that I want her to be able to stand on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, yell her name and listen for an echo; for no other reason than to be able to say she did it.
I want her to be able to dip a toe into the Pacific and get some sun on a beach in the Atlantic.
That I want her to pan for gold in Oregon in a river or stream because really, how many people can say they have done that.
That I want her to understand the history that surrounds the Native American culture and why it is important to not only know, but remember it.
That she needs to see the beauty of the Painted Desert and understand that beauty like that really does need to be nurtured and protected.
That I wanted her to learn about the War Between the States not in a book, but standing on a battlefield imagining that she can smell the cannon smoke and hear the musket fire.
I laid it bare. My main reason for wanting to become a full-time RV family.
Because I am not ready to plant roots. Honestly I’m not even ready to plant the seeds that will someday become roots. I simply haven’t found that place that is home to me. I grew up in Southern Ohio. While my family is still there and it will always be home for that reason, it isn’t my home.
I once lived in Northern Iowa. It isn’t home either.
We’ve lived in Texas for almost six years. It is home for him, but it will never be “right” for me. I have nothing against the State of Texas and in fact, I do quite enjoy it here, but this isn’t the place that I will spend the rest of my life.
It was at this point that he started to connect the dots and “get it,” but I wasn’t done. I want simple. I want more…but at the same time I want less.
We currently live in a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with a loft and 2 car garage. Every room in my home and the garage has stuff in it. 70% of it – at the very least – is stuff we don’t need.
I work 12 hour days. Most weeks I work 7 days a week. 4,368 hours each year of my life devoted to sitting behind a computer so that I can make money to buy more stuff. I won’t lie. I earn a very nice income for working that hard, but the truth is?
I would give it all up to be back in that trailer park in that thirty year old trailer.
Why? Because at least that trailer park and trailer was honest. There wasn’t anyone trying to pretend they were wealthier than they are. There was no keeping up with the Joneses. There was no debt since the majority couldn’t afford to have debt. There were no homes filled with rooms upon rooms of endless stuff.
It was honest.
We live in a society that is so full of lies that – even when they’re right in front of us – we have trouble seeing them. The fancy home full of stuff makes us look as if we’re not drowning in debt. The flashy car that gives the impression that we’ve got more in our savings accounts than we really do. Where family dinner is no longer a priority and our public education system – for whatever reason – is failing our children. Where video games have replaced real life and where debt reigns and appearances mean everything.
Personally? I’m tired of it and if you are feeling the same way, I would urge you to really consider downsizing.
Planning to pack or sell everything you own, move into a 30 foot RV and travel full-time is a truly scary experience. You will experience a wide range of emotions and I am not ashamed to say that I am going through those same emotions right now. There will be fear. The unknown can be a very scary place. You will change your mind at least one-hundred times and then change it back again. There will be a need to hold onto everything that you own because you needed it when you bought it. Your decision may weigh on you like baggage that you’re carrying through the airport. You will make it through the doubt.
Yes. I want the experiences. Yes, I want my child to have those same experiences, but really? I just want to live more with less.
After all, in the end? It’s all just stuff.
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