RV MINIMALISM – Part One: I wasn’t born this way but I did come by it honest
I’m not sure I technically qualify to be a card-carrying member of the minimalism set. Mostly because I’m not sure what the minimum minimalism requirement is. But I am pretty certain no one’s gonna vote me into the maximalist club either. I’ve always had an inclination to kind of make do with less. My parents are a bit horrified about the odd lifestyle I’ve chosen, but as I explain to them, they are the ones who did this to me! When I was about 10 they had a stroke of genius (I know that sounds sarcastic but I really applaud them for this) to sell the 3 bedroom brick home they had just built and move into a barn while we built another one. The logic was that we’d need a barn eventually anyway, and we could build that quickly and live in it during the construction. So we (I use that pronoun loosely – I was 10 after all) threw together a metal building with concrete floors, chicken wire interior walls, particle board partitions and a wood burning stove in one corner and moved on in! All SEVEN of us! And for a list of reasons that honestly I don’t fully understand, there we remained for the next five years. FIVE! So during some of my most formative developmental time I lived in a barn in Oklahoma! And do you want to know what I remember about that time? That it was glorious. None of my friends slept in a barn loft. But I did. None of my friends had to chop firewood or freeze to death. But I did. And not one of my friends had a ceiling tall enough for a 14 foot high Christmas tree. But I did! And Ioved [almost] every minute of it. I enjoyed being unique. We talked about not “keeping up with the Joneses” and about living our values and marching to the beat of our own drum. And though I don’t remember one single time my parents acting like living in a barn was an example of those things, that’s how I remember it. We were doing our own thing, and we were just fine with it.
Maybe that’s why when I went off to college, efficiency apartments made way more sense than large ones. Maybe the year I spent living in a pool house of some friends is more understandable. Perhaps in this light it makes a little more sense that I convinced the company I worked for in my mid twenties to let me live in the little cottage on the grounds. And why, when I was running a live music venue for teens in my late twenties it made sense to me just to move into the space, even though it had no shower and I had to go to the YMCA for hygienic related activities.
Then somewhere in my early thirties I met Carissa. That would change everything, right? Surely I would get domesticated, settle down, get me a house and a couple kids and start spending my time mowing lawns and shuffling my junk around in the garage. Well if you think that then you haven’t met Carissa. She’s worse than me! That woman HATES having extra stuff around. So during our decade of marriage we have lived in all kinds of weird places. From house sitting gigs to friends’ basements to rent-free apartments where we worked for the complex to being flat out homeless for weeks at a time. (We hate paying rent for an empty house so much that a couple times when we went on a trip we’d just move out of our house then get a new place when we got back)! And this past June when we hit our 10 year anniversary we wanted to do something really unique, so we spent the night at the Cedar Creek Treehouse, one of the World’s Top 5 Tree House hotels. No five star hotels for us, thank you very much. For a special treat we want to sleep 60 feet above the ground in the branches of a 100 year old cedar tree!
So the journey from this background to living in an RV for the past two years was pretty short, really. When we decided to relocate from Portland to Fort Collins, CO a couple years ago, we quickly decided we’d like to spend a little time on the road seeing friends, family, interesting places and great coffee houses. From there we realized we’d need the perfect machine for our journey and that led quickly to the Volkswagen Rialta. And once we were in possession of that machine, it just stopped making sense to pay for rent when we loved being in the Rialta so much. And yes, we did have a few things to dispossess ourselves of, but honestly, it wasn’t much. We had already been living pretty minimally and when we had our yard sale to get rid of everything we owned, it came to a whopping $1300.
So here we are! Two years later and we have loved [almost] every minute of it. We LOVE not having a bunch of stuff to keep track of. We LOVE not having a bunch of clothes to wash and deal with all the time. We LOVE not spending money on expensive toys (from battery operated dilly-whackers for the kids to entertainment widgets for the adults) that get used for a month then sit around gathering dust for years before they get donated to Goodwill. We LOVE being so mobile that we can relocate our entire lives just by driving some place. And we LOVE being together all the time…so close that we’re forced into each others’ lives when it’s comfortable and when it’s not.
So like I say, I don’t know if that makes us minimalists or not. But after two years of living in less than 100 square feet with four people, I figure I got as much right to talk about it as anybody else. So over the next few posts I’m going to give some of my thoughts on minimalism, with a particular focus on RV living. I hope you’ll follow along! It’s the “least” you could do. HA! You see what I did there!?! “Least?!?” OK, well…stay tuned.