It wasn’t the easiest move, nor was it the hardest. It wasn’t particularly graceful and yet we’ve emerged on the other side in a fairly seamless progression. C and I are the new summer residents of a roughly 30-foot long travel trailer. Now, before you chuckle too hard, keep in mind that this may very well be our most technologically advanced camp home. It certainly gleams in comparison with our first.
About six months after C and I tied the knot, we - with the help of our family - packed all of our worldly possessions into a small U-Haul truck and a station wagon (something impossible to consider now). We drove northwest to the Hudson Valley of New York state, and ultimately reached a tiny hillside outside of a wonderfully hippie college town, where one could reliably find organic local produce and [I imagine] illegal substances in large supply.
We were starting work for an organization that served adults and youth from New York City, and in particular, C and I were going to help design and run a summer camp program for kids who had generally never seen more green space than the manicured landscape of Central Park. This was an adventure that could easily be its own blog post, so what I really want to focus on today is simply the fascinating nature of our living quarters.
The family that we went to work with spent a humbling amount of man-hours and effort into converting a summer-only nurse’s station into a winterized cabin for a young set of newlyweds. They installed a propane wall heater, put in appliances (3/4 size refrigerator, half-oven), and even converted an outdoor shed into an indoor closet (a 4’X4’ space that held our hanging clothes, pantry, a bookshelf, aquarium and various instruments of cookery). They painted walls, spread gravel for a parking space, and even gave us a welcome basket for a
housecabinwarming gift. It was a startling illustration of overwhelming kindness.
Despite the love and kindness that was poured into our first freestanding home, other things were also pouring in. And pouring out. First were the spiders: giant, fat ones the size of a quarter (found in the closet) and tiny, feathery ones that crawled up and out of the rusty shower drain. There were the ants and beetles that I would find on/behind my mattress at night before bed. Soon I was performing rigorous “bug checks” on a near paranoia-inducing basis. If we had lived there for more than six months, I suspect that I would have developed a substantial mental illness. This was before the day I stomped in the hallway and a bumblebee flew out of the floor.
This is my favorite spot in Vermont. Also, not our house.
When I mention that there were things pouring out, I did not mean to suggest that the insects and arachnids that were waltzing into our cabin were dancing their way out as well. Although I’m sure they were, what eventually game drizzling – no, wait – projecting out of the side of our cabin was an embarrassing amount of foul-smelling, unsightly sewage. It turns out that this little seasonal getaway was moderately unprepared for two full-time residents with regular bowel movements. I was unprepared for what would come to spew from beneath our bathroom floor. Our saint-of-a-maintenance director spent hours, perhaps days, working with his son to install a plumbing line that would permit us to introduce fruits and vegetables back into our diet.
So, as I mentioned, we have now found ourselves in a house with wheels. And yes, as a friend commented today, I married not a man, but an adventure. And yet the reality of home is to be found and loved, but whether that truth lies on a poured foundation, the sands of a shanty town, or on a set of Goodyear tires is left to the heart of the subject. If life is the canvas, and experiences are the paint, then I want a story that rivals the sunset.
So go grab your paintbrush and let’s take this show on the road.