I would like to introduce you to one of my best friends, and through her another. We met Jen and Matt when they parked next to us at the 2008 Rainbow Gathering. We have had the immense luck and pleasure to share space with them many times over the past couple of years and I can honestly say that there are few people in which I would place as much trust as I do with them. They work hard, play with intention and live like know that they get only one chance at it. They inspire us, they support us and we love them! We hold in our hearts the hope that someday we will share space for more than a couple of months at at time, having very similar dreams of community.
So, without further ado, please take a moment to say hello to Jen and Matt.
In 2007 Matthew and I were living a "regular life" we were both working full time as a paralegal and mechanic respectively and were making pretty good money. We were not rich by any means,but we were living a nice middle-middle class lifestyle. Something just wasn't right,even though we did and bought pretty much what we wanted, had tons of friends,great social life and awesome family,we just weren't happy. We started negotiations to buy the house we were renting at the time.but we just couldn't fight the nagging thought of"is this it then? "is this all there is?" The first time Matthew presented the idea of full-timing to me my immediate response was "absolutely not" we can't just quit our jobs,sell everything we own,buy an rv and become gypsies or hippies or whatever you wanna call it. It's too irresponsible and immature. Persistent as he is though,he prodded and persuaded me for months until finally,for reasons I'm still not quite sure of,I agreed. Before I knew it we were looking at used rv's online,driving to Wisconsin to look at one and them driving home are 1991 Class A Allegro . My head spun,were we really doing this? We moved out of our house,indeed, sold just bout everything we owned and lived in that first rv for a year while we saved,plotted and planned our adventure. Our family and friends were actually surprisingly supportive and involved even though I don't think most of them really thought we would do it. ;-)
We left Indiana in March of 2008,I can still feel the excitement and terror of the unknown as we pulled out of his his parents driveway! Our first stop,Tennessee to replace the water heater that died days before we were scheduled to leave. Neither one of us felt the sense of foreboding of all the things to come that would break and not exactly go as planned. :)
"It ain't easy living free", I never knew how true these words would ring! It's now been about three years we've enjoyed this lifestyle. It has worked out where we are able to travel six months and lay down stakes and work for six months to save more money. We've sold our first rv and bought a fifth wheel and truck. In order to supplement the costs of traveling,Matt installed two solar panels on the roof of our rv,their energy is stored in our seven deep cycle marine batteries. This enables us not to have to "plug in" and stay at RV parks or camp grounds for power. Even the most reasonable rv parks are still kinda pricey,especially when your living on a budget. Our truck is diesel,so Matt converted it to run off waste veggie oil. We have found websites with people all over the country who have it for trade or sale generally around $1-$2 a gallon. These two things alone have helped us considerably as fuel and power are the two biggest expenses when you live this way. In addition,Matt sells used vehicle parts on Ebay and is generally pretty lucky to find random vehicle repair work along the way.. He is currently in the process of building his website "The Motoring Mechanic.com".
We have learned and had to figure out so many things in our travels. Creative ways to get rid of our trash and recycle. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to recycle your plastic when you can't leave it in the bin on your curb on trash day. How to get our important mail without an address or a mailbox. What to do when a tire blows out or something vital breaks on the rv in the middle of nowhere. How to covertly fix it in the Walmart parking lot while security is driving around.;-) . Our fresh water tank holds 100 gallons so we have inadvertently become water conservationists and experts at the art of a military shower. In a very real sense it has taught us how to live on a serious budget and comfortably live with less. It's given us the gift of remembering how to slow down and not plan everything with in an inch of it's life. This is especially true for me,it has helped me be ok with just going with the flow and not having an anxiety attack when things don't go as planned. I just had to let go,because quite frankly sometimes there are weeks where nothing goes right and you're stranded in Cali with just enough money to fix the problem and no idea of how you're gonna get home! I think this is one of the things that has been lost in our society. The conditioning of what "The American Dream" is supposed to be. The huge house,fancy cars and "things" that show everyone you've made it. The need to rush and do every minute of the day. The need to live outside our means. In some ways I think it may be time to dream a new dream.
"Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins
We have had so much fun on this adventure! I try every day to to take a minute and truly feel,enjoy and be grateful for the this life I've been blessed with. We have seen and done so many awesome things. We have met some of the kindest,generous and just awesome people all over this country! Strangers who have opened their homes and property and hearts to us and have enabled us in countless ways to be able to continue on this journey. In many ways the entire country feels like our extended family as we made so many personal connections. It is the greatest feeling to have so many places to lay our head that feel like home because of the friends we have made there. When we first started out I foolishly never even considered the fact that this would change me. I truly believed we would go for a year and then come back home and fall right back into our old lives. Of course it has changed me and for the better. It has given me a deeper love and appreciation of my family and friends who have all been so fabulous and supportive. We could never do this with out them especially. That old saying about absence and the heart is so true! It has challenged me to take a honest look at myself and re-evaluate the person I want to be as well as my views and beliefs on so many issues. It's helped me to let go of so much negativity I didn't even realize I was carrying.
I think it has also strengthened our relationship, having forced us to communicate better and really deal with each other. It never cease to be amazed by this man and his endless list of talents. I have always said there is no one else I would have ever agreed to do this with and I still stand by that. No matter what unexpected craziness comes our way,we are in this together and it is the most peaceful feeling. These things may have happened anyway,but I don't think this intensely.
There are no re-do's in this life,you only get one go round in this body. Take a chance,get outside of your box a little. Don't worry about the failure! The joy is in the leap not the outcome! You don't have to do it to the extremes Matthew and I have,this life isn't for everyone and it's not always easy or awesome.
So gentle readers,that's a little insight into our life as full timers. Thank you for indulging me and letting me share my thoughts and feelings. Aimee,thank you so much for the invite. It was an honor!