Last week was Justin’s spring break but instead of heading someplace warm and sunny, we thought we’d stay home and spend the week in living in the camper. We planned to test out the water source, use the compost toilet, inspect the water pressure and other important amenities before we take the big girl on any adventures. We figured it best to try these things out at home while tweaks and changes could be made on the fly but the weather had a different idea in mind. It was freezing. Like 17 degrees and 20 mph winds freezing. We were too cautious and worried so we didn’t put any water in the tanks and heat was becoming a burden. We decided just to take her to the shop a few days early to get the repairs process started! We did manage to have a few good days hanging out before we dropped her off. As I sit here now, it’s very strange not to have her here. Can’t go stand there and admire our hard work. Can’t sit on the comfy couch and look out the window when the basement gets boring. Can’t find some sort of detail to improve on. That must be why today is the busiest office work day I’ve had in probably 8 months.
We knew we were bound to meet opposition along the way to our dream life. We’re choosing to live a very nontraditional lifestyle and do things outside the norm. People are going to challenge that. They’re going to question our choices and compare them to their own. That’s just the nature of being different. We confidently chose to leave certain things behind in order to do something that most people can’t wrap their minds around. We knew people were going to judge us for this life. We knew that but hadn’t really experienced it until now.
Our first challenger came in the form of our 90 year old neighbor Ann, who we adore. She can be a pill sometimes and she knows it. That generation has a knack for being “old-fashioned”, we’ll say (read narrow-minded, traditional, stubborn). We’ve tried to sugar-coat our plans over the last year so as not to upset her too much about us no longer being her neighbors; she REALLY loves Justin and has no family of her own. This week’s visit brought up some deeper topics and she wasn’t afraid to tell us how she felt about our plans.
Her worries for us were mainly rooted in the concepts she can’t quite understand for herself because they’re different than how she (and mostly everyone else) lived in her generation. By most standards we’ve achieved the “American Dream” (minus the kids). We have a beautiful home we’ve lived happily in for 10 years, Justin works a job he likes as a professor and I work from home. She can’t understand why we’d want to change anything about that. When I explained that we’d rather work less and have less so we can do more of the things we want to do; so we can travel, so we can have peace of mind; so we can prioritize our active lifestyle and our health; so we can bike/hike; so we can adventure with our friends and family more often; so we can simply live a more simple life in this crazy mixed up world… she couldn’t believe that we’d actually be able to do it. She can’t understand how it’s going to work.
When she said to me “I sure hope you know what you’re doing” and “You seem pretty sure about yourself” my response was “Well, we are but what’s the risk?” We’re not trying to buy our way to happiness, we’re not taking out loans on expensive cars or million-dollar homes to keep up with the Jones’. We’re just intentionally living a simpler life in a way that’s different than most people. We’ve paid off nearly 30k of debt in two years, we’re only student loans away from being completely debt free, our business is thriving. These decisions are some of the best we’ve ever made for ourselves. Being challenged with that level of opposition felt so backwards but at the same time it felt amazing to be so sure and so opinionated about it all. I didn’t falter explaining a single detail because we’ve put SO much time and effort into these dreams. The best part is they’re no longer just dreams.
The most comical part of our talk with Ann was when she said “Well that’s NOT normal” when I explained our thoughts on working less and living with less so that we have more freedom and need less income. No, it’s not normal but it should be. In typical Annie style she pursed her lips, shook her head, made an audible sigh and left it at “Well I never met anybody like you two.”