Welcome to Wheel Life

I once took an interior design class with a final project to design a 6’x12’ living space. Some people would view this a prison cell, but I threw myself into it, adding a loft bed, storage sofa, fold-down tables, even a garden window. My design never came to fruition, but by then I was hooked on tiny homes.   Some go small by necessity, others feel freedom in paring belongings down to what really matters; I guess I craved a vague togetherness and simple life. When we started a family, I sometimes fantasized about couples vacations, date nights now and then, even a lock on the bathroom door, but feared that our kids would someday drift away. Heck, more like scurry away with their cell phones whenever we entered a room. I wanted to always interact with them, even if it meant forcing them into a confined space with us on occasional weekends.

Our house at the time looked like BabysRUs and ToysRUs threw up all over it. Yes, I suppose we could have decluttered, just like we could have subsisted on my fantasy window garden or run a sub 3-hour marathon. I needed to live tiny, even part-time, so began considering RVs.  My Dear Husband, God bless him, is a cautious man. He keeps me on the straight and narrow, and usually reacts to my schemes with a weary “Uh-uh”. So I did the sensible thing, and didn’t tell him about my plan to start researching RVTrader.com (kind of like a Match.com for RV buyers) and visiting dealerships.  The field research was a lot of fun.  It was a bit strange entering small enclosures, lying on mattresses, flushing toilets, and standing in shower stalls in front of strangers, but as a parent of young children I had already lost my dignity.

It was a tough decision. First, (stereotyping here) I didn’t picture ourselves as typical RVers: Empty nesters whose chicks have long left the nest, following the sun in a giant rig, burning the competition at shuffleboard and square dancing, possibly wearing matching captains’ hats.  And then there was the thought of throwing away my life savings for a camper on steroids that we may or may not use. The research continued, and I feared DH was starting to suspect I was conducting an affair when I hurried off my laptop as he walked in, or told hopeful salesmen– who called at all hours– that it ‘wasn’t a good time to talk’.

Finally, I heard a late model, smallish Class C (cab over drivers seat, gas powered, truck chassis) calling to me from sunny Florida.  I broke the news to DH at our anniversary dinner, hoping that he was feeling love for me and confident that the venue was too public for an ugly scene.   He was intrigued, if for no other reason telling his friends and co-workers that he was driving a Ford F-450.   Soon, we were flying down to pick up our new tiny home on wheels. They say that you can gauge the health of your relationship by going on a long road trip with your beloved. Does the same hold true for a family and pets?

 

Age of Aquarist

We spent the afternoon at Fords Theatre, where the President’s Box still holds watch, as it has for 152 years since that fateful night when President Lincoln lost his life to…political hate.   fullsizerender-13The theatre is, coincidentally, a few blocks from the Trump International Hotel, where protestors massed today for yet another cause: the immigration ban.  Rebellion is suddenly the order of the day, and comes as a shock to many who don’t remember the era of large- scale protests in our country.  Many of us who believed in traditional institutions feel like we don’t know where to turn, what to do.  We have to make the difficult choice to stay connected to the world or hide out, although the latter seems impossible in the echo chambers of social media.  Still, there is good in this new reality.  We are being moved to action in ways big and small.  We realize that past squabbles pale in comparison to the feast of problems before us.  Maybe Republicans and Democrats will finally come together in a new coalition to do not what’s expedient, but what’s right.  And, we will always have the power to control our own little worlds and freely send  signals outside, hopeful that someone will listen.

On that final note,  I have begun fulfilling my dream of establishing a saltwater aquarium.  I’ve actually had it a while, stored in a box until our recent move.  Now, finally, it is up and running.  Sort of.  I lost my copy of Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies in the move, so went to the pet store for a refresher course with a very patient salesman named Tony.  (I see Tony and I establishing an intimate relationship over the years, not  a romantic sense, but through my constant visits, nagging questions, and large purchases.)

I was amused to see signs assuring customers that the fish were raised in captivity, in case we feel guilt from watching Finding Nemo.  Yes, these fish think the world is small and rectangular, just like the early explorers, and it is fine with them. Another customer, someone I probably would have never met, struck up a conversation on algae.  It felt oddly satisfying to connect with two strangers– not over work or politics– just common interest.

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Think twice before involving children in decorating.

aquarium

Fill ‘er up.

The bucket brigade and alchemy are complete, and we are now waiting for it to clear, or show some sign of settling down.  I know that an aquarium or other hobby isn’t the solution to the ills in our lives.  Yet, when the world

is spinning too fast, it can help keep us grounded and focused.  Here, I am mayor of my own peaceful little ecosystem that recalls good times spent scuba diving and snorkeling.   It is not a particularly good endeavor for an anxious personality, as I have already inventoried everything that can go wrong:  Will the living sand and rock, full of good bacteria like the stuff our parents let us play in when we were young, die?  Worse, will I not know it?  Will my heater explode because I didn’t submerge it far enough?  How do you maintain perfect salinity when your water is always evaporating?   Will the inhabitants get along or eat each other?  Most importantly, who can we bribe, I mean trust enough, to take care of it if we go on vacation?   I don’t know the answers, but so far, it is a great distraction from the larger questions nipping at my heels.