15 Jun Reflections on our Nomadic Year
The decision to end our time living in an RV was made as quickly as our decision to start. In both cases, we knew giving it too much time for deliberation would allow emotions to get in the way: fear in the beginning, nostalgia at the end.
We both believe that making big decisions quickly, driven by the gut, is the only way to feel at peace with the outcome.
We made the decision to buy an RV and live in it while laying in bed one night in mid-January, 2020. We knew it would be complicated—well, we knew we had no idea what we were in for, but we couldn’t think of a good reason not to try it.
As hard as this year has been, it was the best decision we’ve ever made. The most rewarding experiences are always the most challenging, and the growth that’s fertilized by new experiences is so much bigger than any growth that takes place in a familiar setting. We can only grow as big as the pot we’re in, so to speak, and the choice to RV full time was like transferring our roots from a safe little pot to a wide-open plot with no barriers and no boundaries.
As soon as we were replanted, we felt free. And we quickly learned a few things:
Living with less stuff gives life more purpose.
Living on the road, you will discover your values and reckon with your shortcomings.
Living with no foundation reveals that “home” is people, not solely a place.
Oh, and living together in near isolation for more than a year—including two weeks of complete isolation when we had COVID—we confirmed that the three of us really like each other. 🙂
There were moments over the past year when we felt ourselves changing, like teenagers with growing pains prodding at our skin and bones.
There were so many nights when we sat together under the stars, and days looking out over incredible views when we’d turn to each other and ask, “Can you believe this is our life?”
Each stretch of the road was different. Some sections were smooth and calm. Some rides were so epic we could barely speak. Others were so windy, bumpy, or otherwise sketchy, we didn’t think we’d make it. We limped into campgrounds with mechanical issues and barely made it—a few times. And our experiences with RV mechanics and repair people on our travels were… disheartening, to say the least.
The health of our house on wheels was one cause of stress, and the health of our bodies was another.
As visitors in every state, it was very challenging to take care of ourselves and our dog. During COVID, everyone had a waitlist. No one was accepting new patients, especially from out of town.
Grizzly still ended up at the vet many times, and has been diagnosed with serious health challenges we didn’t know about when we set off on our journey.
And after putting my own health journey on hold for a year, I have received a stage 4 endometriosis diagnosis that will require surgery and long-term dedication to healing. It’s very hard to take care of yourself when you’re traveling across the country during a pandemic. It was very hard for every person in the world to take care of themselves during the pandemic. And in that sense, it was the perfect time to do it. But now, we’ve realized all at once, it’s time to slow down, plant our roots in a (nice, big) pot, and take care of ourselves.
We set out on a journey to see the country—and also in search of answers.
We now (think we) know what we want out of life.
We now (think we) know where we’d like to live.
We are now engaged to be married!
We’ve now had the privilege of tasting many ways of life, marveling at countless natural wonders, unplugging and reflecting for many days and months.
We found many small answers like breadcrumbs sprinkled along the path, and a few profound ones all at once in recent days.
We know what’s next, both by choice and necessity.
For one full year, our lives have been unbelievably full.
We’ve danced to our favorite music in a freezing cold RV, surrounded by snow with dead coach batteries.
We’ve sat alone together at the edge of the Grand Canyon, howling and laughing and crying out to no one.
We’ve jumped into frigid waterfalls, oceans, rivers, and streams.
We’ve received food, firewood, dog treats, help and kindness from strangers of all kinds.
We’ve hiked many miles, sometimes far off the beaten path.
We’ve driven through towns so rich it’s silly, and places so poor it’s unbearable.
We’ve had some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, canyons, forests and mountaintops to ourselves.
We’ve held hands with strangers in an energy vortex.
We’ve caught the best sunrises and sunsets.
We’ve driven thousands of miles in silence.
We’ve felt lonely, isolated, so fucking frustrated,
liberated, validated, and so fucking free.
We’ve never been so sad to end anything.
But it’s time, for many reasons, and the lessons will better the rest of our lives.
Just like we’ve learned that home is not solely a place,
We’ve discovered that happiness is not solely a lifestyle.
It’s a state of internal harmony, and it’s a way of seeing.