The other day as I mindlessly scrolled through Facebook, I stumbled upon a post by my friend Nadine: “If someone had told my 18 year old self that one day I’d be so excited about a sink, I would have told them they’re crazy. But now, here I am, 20 years later, posting pictures of my new sink on social media. And I love it.” I retorted, with playful intent, that if anyone had taken out their crystal ball and revealed a vision of me at 34 living in a 13-foot trailer with my lesbian lover, I would have also assumed their insanity. Yet here we are – Nadine’s achieved her kitchen washbowl goals, and I’m parked in my friends backyard like a fancy hobo.
My Mother’s top two questions are still: “Are you okay?” (I’m better than mediocre) and “Are you doing this because you’re poor?” (I hate to inform her I’ve always been destitute by her standards) I’m still working my full-time Office gig, and I’ve purposefully neglected to mention to my employer that my living status has altered. This is for several reasons: 1.) It’s none of their business, 2.) It would be a constant source of conversation I just plain don’t want to mitigate in my daily life. While I appreciate the brash and unapologetic razzing that comprises many of our interactions – this isn’t something I want to be mocked for, jestfully or otherwise.
It took us two weeks to clean house. In this time many people told me I should watch Marie Kondo with the same excitement I was informed I should watch ‘Game of Thrones.’ Spoiler alert: I don’t think her target demographic was a couple of dykes moving into a Scamp. We got rid of plenty of shit that sparked my joy and ignited my bliss but just wasn’t fucking necessary. My 43’’ TV certainly would take up considerable space, and my record collection wouldn’t serve its purpose sitting in a storage unit. What we didn’t sell we donated or regifted. It was a process, tedious but incredibly gratifying, and I’m left with this sense of overwhelming freedom – is having nothing the new everything?
While it’s been an undeniable part of my existence for 52 days now, I’ve hesitated to share more for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I didn’t really want to show things off when I had washcloths for curtains, plywood for floors, and no idea what to do with all my shit. I also haven’t had time as we’re both still working a lot, and when we’re not doing that we are hanging out with friends or going through another iteration of paring down. Lastly, we’re kind of half-in half-out and I’m not really inclined to make it look like I’m “roughing it” when I can shit indoors or take a shower at any time. However it’s not to say it doesn’t come without its unique challenges. Like being tired enough you stumble out of your trailer at 2AM, pop a squat because the bathroom is a whole 25 feet away inside, and urinate on your own leg while making eye contact with your dog who is also going to the bathroom. Upon awakening, Bridie pawed desperately at me for a cuddle and I said: “I love you but a shower is non negotiable before work today because I definitely peed on my leg last night.” Stick that in the jar of sentences I never thought would come out of my mouth but am now strangely okay with saying.
An unexpected surprise, has been how deeply I slumber. I’ve forever been a finicky sleeper who tortured the likes of my partners. I would toss and turn, and pathetically whimper in the night as I failed to hit anything close to a REM cycle. To say I was worried about “downgrading” from a cushy Queen sized bed to some Scamp cushions with an $89 Memory-Foam Mattress Topper from Walmart, would just be scratching the surface. Bridie on the other hand, spends five months of the year sleeping on the front of her rafting boat and I’m pretty sure if you threw her in the snow, she’d curl up like a little Arctic Fox and take a little nap if she was tired. I am happy to report out of the 51 nights we’ve now spent in the trailer, I’ve only had a singular sleepless one. I’m not bothered by the fact my 5’8 frame means a full-stretch takes up every millimeter I have, or that my body wakes me up intermittently to plug and unplug the heater throughout the night to regulate the temperature. I don’t get mad when I find blades of grass or straw in my blankets, but I do when Bridie hits snooze too many times.
While this wasn’t our original plan, I can’t help but to feel like it’s life going absolutely perfectly. The whole part where we had to sell our shit, downsize, and prepare to transition into this – it’s over. There’s nothing left to do but sit back with a cocktail in hand and enjoy life. While I no longer have much to my name, I will accept the trophy for being the most cliché when I say: I’ve never felt like I’ve had more. Memories, experiences, and people are what I will take out with me when I go – not things. I’ve intentionally lost it all yet somehow – I’ve got everything to gain. These are the feelings I hold onto when I have to get up in the middle of a rainstorm to collapse the awning and then spend a dramatic twenty minutes violently shivering in bed, but ONLY when Bridie is paying attention (At least I’m a self-aware double Aries).
While people make this look quite glamorous on the internet, I assure you it’s laced with moments that are not. It’s certainly not all Edward Abbey, and picturesque #vanlife Instagram posts of Bridie and I meditating while looking out at an ocean in matching Bikinis and Boho-style head scarves whilst playing ukulele. There’s the fact that condensation is pretty rampant in such a small space which we learned made the cushions we slept on moldy (luckily we figured this out early on) Some days not even a birdbath of tea tree oil will conceal my musky aroma, and I often forego showers despite their convenience. There are many intimate moments where my dog and I pee together like a couple of drunk girls at a college party and times where a solitary fart makes you want to invest in a military grade gas mask.
In 11 days that I’m certain will be all too short, we Scamper on and away. While I am excited for this novel venture, my heart is still heavy to leave and saying goodbye seems daunting. A comfort I cling to is that the last time I left, Utah continued to exist and the people and mountains I grew to love did too. To me, the joy in the unknown and uprooting exceeds the fear – and beginning again doesn’t necessarily mean starting over, it just means something different. I take myself whenever and wherever I go. Much like a hot air balloon, you’re only tied to the ground temporarily so cut the strings and go somewhere. I will leave with many memories, no regrets, and nothing but uninhibited anticipation and gratitude for whatever the future holds.