My husband and I started our full time RV travel journey the weekend of Memorial Day. I don’t recall actually when we started talking about selling our house and living in an RV. It was at least 9 months if not a year prior. We did not get a bunch of books or talk to others about their experiences except in passing. We did read a few blog articles, but mainly said we can so why not. Our kids are mostly grown. His youngest daughter lives with her mom full time and is 16 now. His oldest daughter and both my sons are adults and living their lives as they see fit, so why can’t we? The main reason for this decision is we both wanted to experience life in a place other than Twin Falls, ID but it was also for the fact that he wanted to remain sane for the next 22 years that he will need to work before he is able to retire. In order to do that he needed to shake things up a little. It was also an opportunity for me to decide what I wanted to do instead of what I had to do. Once we decided we were going for it then we began sorting through our stuff. Chad’s experience of getting rid of things was a lot different than mine. I did have trouble letting go of childhood toys. I was lucky that my mom kept most of my toys from my growing up years and it was up to me what to do with them. I have moved a lot over the years and so I would always decide to get rid of some things here and there. I was able to give most of them to my great nieces and nephews, which means I will have the chance to see them again. I did have to throw out my stuff bunny that I got my first Easter. It was not something that you could give to someone. It was disintegrating with age. It was heartbreaking to see him in the kitchen garbage can. Once I couldn’t see him in there than it was easy to let go. I also had a bunch of my oldest son’s childhood things such as books, a few baby clothes and his baby book. He said none of that stuff meant anything to him and he didn’t have room to store it nor did he want to. I didn’t have a family member that I could give this stuff to. I ended up donating the items to a family consisting of a single mom with a bunch of kids, who had sought refuge in this country. She was pregnant so it was nice to give her a few baby clothes to help her welcome the new little one into this country. We donated some furniture items to help her house feel like a home. I felt good to be able to give this stuff to someone that truly needed it.
It was stressful after we put our house on the market since our agent held Open Houses most Saturdays. Keeping the house clean on a constant basis is challenging and we are pretty neat housekeepers as it is. Plus our house wasn’t selling. We dropped the price several times. Though we did have it sold not long after placing on the market but once the inspection was done the buyer backed out. Long story short, after a few price drops and a few more grey hairs, we sold it the week of when we were planning to begin our adventure. I believe that things work out the way they are supposed to.
We started by heading to the Idaho Falls, ID area to see my folks and a few of Chad’s customers that lived in the area. We then headed to Montana. We didn’t stay in a location very long. Setting things up and then packing up to hit the road were pretty easy. After Montana we needed to come back to Idaho for a bit. That is when emotions were all over the place. I didn’t think we were going to make it back to Idaho without one of us killing the other. Chad really hated the thought of returning to Idaho. I was having a challenge dealing with all the emotions. He was being triggered by things I was doing that brought up stuff from his previous marriage about infidelity. I had been unfaithful to my previous husband…I kissed another man, still unfaithful. Chad was fully aware of this and so I think with the situation with his ex and knowing that about me then his emotions were all over the map. I had recently become friends with a transgender woman, transitioning from male to female, prior to our leaving Twin Falls. We were messaging back and forth at all hours of the day and night. We were taking time to get to know one another. Chad was having a hard time not seeing this person as male and a threat. This woman was also Lesbian so either way a threat. We did not have feelings for each other, it really is just a friendship. I had been wanting a close female friend and I finally found her days before leaving Idaho back in August. It sucked! She was going through a lot and needed my love & support. This is all it was. Chad knew it deep down, but when he would see me on the phone during the night or first thing when I woke up in the morning then he would be triggered. It got ugly at times because I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong and I felt like I was needing to choose between my marriage and my new friend. Once we got to Twin Falls it got better. Chad met my friend and her wife. We enjoyed time with dear friends and my son, Chase. We even had the chance to see his band perform at Octoberfest.
Once we left Twin Falls and started back on our adventure things got back to normal for a while. We were seeing lots of cool places and I was able to pick up work here and there. The thing I disliked though was doing laundry. The only plus side was being able to do all the loads at one time. Meaning it takes less time, but there were negatives such as machines would be down meaning you would have to stand in line for a machine. You had to make sure to have quarters and lots of them. Then there is lugging four to five loads of laundry to wherever the area is located. Most the time it was close by, but other times it was not. (Hint: get a collapsible wagon to use to do this chore.)
We were enjoying visiting lots of beautiful places that neither of us had ever been to before. Eating some yummy food, lots & lots of yummy food out there to be tasted. If it is a work-related location then the company pays for the campground rental, mileage and food. Life was good except for when it wasn’t. Sometimes we would be in a place for a day sometimes longer. When we could we started staying at least a week at a time in an area. This was better but I wasn’t picking up work through the merchandising app since the jobs would usually be quite a distance from where we were staying and now our vehicle is a diesel truck so financially it didn’t make sense. We weren’t anywhere long enough for me to volunteer somewhere. My only options seemed to be 1) to clean the trailer on a daily basis, which you really could do since the area isn’t as large as it would be in a tradition sticks & bricks home. You see the dirt in the corners a lot faster, 2) wander around outside if Chad had the truck, 3) binge watch tv series on Netflix, 4) take the truck somewhere. This could get really expensive because sometimes we were in really remote areas and I would have to drive far to get into town. After all we are driving a Ford F350 diesel truck. Yes, I could have taken up a hobby, read a book, etc. What I am saying is that I learned that this lifestyle was not enough for me. I thought we would get to know our neighbors at each place we stayed, but most people kept to themselves and that included me/us. Thank goodness for having to do laundry because at least I would see other people whom I could strike up a conversation. It didn’t happen all that often at the different campgrounds. I seemed to happen more when I would use a laundromat in town. I talked to one guy who recently became homeless because he was not in a good housing situation so he chose to leave. He was sleeping in his truck. What I found odd was that he didn’t have enough quarters for drying two clothes items and had to break a $10 bill. He offered to give me the remainder of the quarters. I told him that he needed them. I talked with another gentleman just recently when we were in Boise. His sister died and he was left looking after his disabled brother. He no longer worked and was just lonesome. Thank goodness we had 12 step recovery meetings to attend so we don’t have to feel alone in this world. We started realizing how many different meetings were available now that we weren’t small town Idaho anymore. We continued to attend the traditional AA and Al-anon meetings, but we also tried ACA, CoDA, CoSA, SLAA, and Secular AA. We even found a recovery meeting not based on the Twelve Steps that we also liked – SMART. I was meeting and connecting with women at these different meetings and even exchanging numbers. Some relationships have continued but most have fizzled. I decided that CoDA is the Twelve Step recovery program that I am going to work moving forward. Al-anon was great, but Chad is not your typical alcoholic. I did learn that my life was affect by alcoholism prior to meeting Chad. One of my first boyfriends was recovered alcoholic and drug addict. We tried several times to make a go at a relationship but eventually I would decide I couldn’t do it. Now I have a better understanding of why. I also came to know that if your grandfather was an alcoholic, but his only child your father was not, you are still affected by alcoholism because of the trauma he experienced as a child. I am referring to my previous marriage. Recovery has been a key piece in keeping Chad & I’s relationship going all these years. We wouldn’t still be a couple, we would never have gotten married. It is a surprise really that we made it this far. We both agree that 12 step recovery saved our relationship time after time.
So we needed a place to spend the holidays and we agreed to stay in Jacksonville. That first Sunday at UUCJ I met a woman who was involved with a local food pantry and I started volunteering there a couple times a week. It put my organizing kills to work and I was volunteering with some wonderful retired women and men. It is a community ran operation, not government funded. It was just what I needed.
The Christmas holiday time has been a struggle for us. Both of us would like the picture postcard Christmas. I had that growing up, Chad didn’t celebrate Christmas since he grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. My boys are good as long as they get presents but I decided once they turned 18, I was no longer obligated to buy them presents. After all they don’t think to buy either of us gifts. We decided to do stocking stuffers for each other this year. My gifts were a hit. I think I captured every wonderful expression of joy on my husband’s face while he was seeing what was inside his stocking. His gifts to me were not. He was kinda expecting them not to be. I am a difficult person to buy presents for. They shouldn’t cost a lot of money but should be thoughtful and personal. He bought me jewelry even though he was told many times in our relationship that I am not a jewelry person. I wear my wedding ring and now I do have a pair of earrings that I wanted and he bought for me when we were visiting Glacier National Park. There are a couple other necklaces that I have been given that I wear occasionally. I am just not the kind of girl that wants to spend time and money to accessorize. Since I got the earrings Chad thought that he might be able to find a couple other things I would be willing to wear. Chad would like it if I wore more jewelry and more make up. Too much fuss and bother for me. Needless to say you can see buy the expression on my face that I didn’t like what he picked. To his credit, he tried very hard. This wasn’t just any jewelry that you can get at a chain store. He found a place that sells handmade pieces by local artists. He did ask if they did returns and was told that he could exchange. Well, it wasn’t a credit for the store, it was a choice between other pieces made by that particular artist. Long story short I found a couple things, one which I do love but can only be worn on special occasions. I wasn’t able to find something for the entire amount he spent so that meant the rest was just a donation. I don’t like gift cards for this reason. You have to spend the entire amount because they don’t give change. I don’t mean to be difficult when it comes to gifts and I don’t know how I became this way.
One reason I am in this new recovery program is so I can take a better look at myself and figure it out. Christmas ended up being a great day despite the mishap with the gifts. New Year’s was another story, I won’t bore you with all the details. Long story short is we decided that I need to stay here in Jacksonville and he needs to continue traveling. We both felt really happy about this decision, which we wanted to question but decided it meant that it indeed was what needed to be happening.
I went to volunteer on Thursday and let the people I volunteer with know that I am staying permanent for an undetermined length of time. I asked if anyone knew of someone who might have a room to rent. Next thing you know I have a place to live, we then went out and bought me a brand new 2020 Toyota Corolla. I then found work with a nanny agency since I didn’t feel like filling out a million job applications and prepare for interviews, etc. I had always loved kids. So we then flew to Idaho for a 10 day trip, 3 of those days consisted of being in Boise for a conference. (This trip almost didn’t happen because of how NOT good things were between us.) We had the privilege of staying with our friends, Jen & Ron. They have such a beautiful home and it was so nice to have the opportunity to spend time with them other than over dinner. We visited with Kayla, who had dropped by that first night back in Twin. Always interesting hearing about how “adulting” is going for her. They also opened up their home so we could have a game night with our other friends, Megan & Susie. We spent time with my boys, my parents, my oldest brother and his oldest daughter and son along with their families. We had lunch with our dear friends, Yvonne & Christen. I had the chance to spend the first day back in Idaho with my friend, Em. We went up to Boise to go thrift shopping. We each found some things we wanted. We had lunch out and enjoyed the drive there and back just talking and catching up. I had the chance to spend a couple hours with Ace Lynn, Tinsley & their mom, Kayla. It was the first time that I visited Ace when I wasn’t working that she didn’t cry and clutch her mom like I was going to steal her away. I had a visit with my therapist, which has always been more like paying money to talk with a good friend. 7 days in Twin Falls wasn’t enough for me. The first night in Boise we attended a Secular AA meeting and then the next night we had dinner with our good friends, Kacee & John. We always enjoy our time with them visiting about life and the things we are learning along the way. The last couple of times we have been invited into their home to share a meal that. They are good cooks and good company.
We arrived back in Jacksonville, FL late on Friday. Saturday we spent time together since it was the last time for a while that we’d be seeing each other. Sunday I moved into my new place, but not without EMOTIONS ruining our last day together. Chad left for Jekyll Island with us having left things on a sour note. I started my job on Monday, Jan 21. I ended up having a busier week with work because Nate, 5, got sick and was home from school for almost a week. The kids acted a bit different towards me than they did when I interviewed for the job. Mom was there with me for the first 3 days. Now things are wonderful. I lucked out and found a nice family. Sophie, 7, is a very artistic and hardworking girl for her age. She doesn’t give me any trouble since she has to come home first thing and get her homework done.
Things with my new roommate weren’t great. I decided to start looking for a new place. I was feeling trapped in my room even though I was supposed to be able to share the kitchen & living area. There was noise constantly from the AirBnB guests, but mostly from the owner of the house. I am now in a wonderful townhouse that I share with the owner and a older couple that have sons in the area. I am a block & a half from the beach. At the time I interviewed about the room, I didn’t tell my potential roommate that I was married. I wasn’t sure where Chad and I were since things had ended poorly. (Though by Tuesday we were talking and things were in a better place.) I had moved into one place on Sunday and by Wednesday I was living in another. Wednesday we had another misunderstanding and so I felt I had done the right thing by not telling Phatty about Chad.
Something that Chad & I decided to do since reading the daily recovery reflections wasn’t going to happen over breakfast like it had done for the last several months. I had began putting a daily email together to share them with the CoSA group that I had originally thought was the right fit for me. I then began sharing them with Chad and we each shared via email our thoughts and insights with each reading. This act alone helped us repair what had broken prior to Chad leaving Jacksonville. For once, I actually am disciplined enough to read them and then write down my thoughts. When we would do it together and it was his turn to read I usually zoned out. I’d get distracted by the things around me like the counter needing to be wiped off and the dishes needing to be done. Plus I knew that we needed to keep it short because he would have work to start soon. I was overly conscious about not distracting him from work if he was working from the trailer that day. I thought I had to manage his time. We made a rule that we couldn’t comment or have an opinion on the other’s thoughts. This has brought us closer. The main thing is that it is helping me take a good look at myself. To figure out why I do certain things and act in a certain way.
Chad & I repaired the brokenness from earlier in the week and he drove down from Jekyll Island, which is less than two hours away to spend Saturday late afternoon with me til Sunday after church.
Sunday morning, I volunteered to do the coffee for UUCJ. I arrived per agreement 45 minutes prior to the service and then the person who asked me to volunteer was running late. I didn’t want to miss the amazing music that they have each week. Finally when the gentleman showed up that asked if I’d take a turn, it was his son, who is about 12, that helped me get things ready and show me the ropes. The service given was wonderful! You can watch it here – https://youtu.be/cVsJW0hqat0. She gave the congregation a challenge about getting chat benches put around the sanctuary. Though area wide would be even nicer in my opinion. It was our first time meeting the interim minister, Marti Keller. I had the opportunity to talk with her after. I also had the chance to get to know a woman, Kristen. She helped me with the clean up after church and then we walked around the property and talked. Her daughters had stayed home from church that day and her husband was meeting with some people. She and I decided to organize a clean up of all the trash on the church grounds. She also invited me to attend this dinner group on Wednesday night. Even though it the morning started out a bit frustrating because of having to figure things out with preparing for coffee hour, it was a great morning!! It left me on a high for the rest of the day even though I was sad that Chad wasn’t able to stay longer. He needed to move on to his next destination, Savannah, GA.
I have decided to start my day off exercising and then going to the beach to watch the sunrise since it is just a block and a half away. On Monday, I was able to see a beautiful sunrise and I like that I am not the only one who starts their day that way. I also like that it isn’t crowded though so I can enjoy the sound of the ocean. Nate was sick so my day started at 9am and ended at 4:45pm. After work, I didn’t make it to my regular recovery meeting because I was still getting things for my place. I had been looking for a nightstand and finally found one but had to drive into the city to get it.
Tuesday, Nate was still sick so I worked a full day again. After work, I called my childhood friend, Mindy, who had reached out to me earlier in the week and asked what was going on between Chad & I. She became concerned after seeing a blog post on our website. We had a nice conversation and she was glad to hear that all was well and that I was happy. That night starting at 8 pm, I had the opportunity to pick up some extra nanny hours waking up with Grant, the cutest 5 month old boy. His parents are Pharmacists and both needed to work the next day and since he still gets up every couple hours to eat and be changed then they hire someone to get up with him through the night. Being able to get a baby to smile at you is the best and I love baby toes!! I didn’t get a lot of sleep but the baby snuggles I got were worth it!
The next morning I got back at 7:15am, just in time to see the sunrise. There was a gentleman standing near where I was taking pictures and he started a conversation with me. We chatted for a bit about global warming and my insisting that the world was flat. Just kidding. He then asked if I would like to walk the beach with him. His name is Jim and I would say he is in his mid 70’s. He told me that his wife passed away a couple years back, that they had been married over 30 years. He was lonely because his whole life included his wife. (This is one reason that I have started looking for friendship and a sense of community because I don’t want this to be me one day if something happens with Chad and he is no longer around.) A couple of his kids and grandkids live nearby, they don’t visit him unless he bribes them to. Like noticing that he has a tool that he doesn’t use anymore that they might want so they can come get it from him. While walking I started collecting shells and he was picking up trash. We ended up walking and talking for 2 hours and walked 20 blocks in all.
This experience is just what Rev. Marti had referred to the day before. I luckily didn’t have to be to work until 1 o’clock on Wednesday because Nate was finally feeling better. I did have things that I had wanted to accomplish like exercising and continuing to set up my room. Though as Chad pointed out I did a lot of walking and that is exercise. The other things weren’t going anywhere and this gentleman needed something that I could give. He wasn’t asking for money, just time and conversation. Something that I had to give. He is someone that I think Chad would really like. I wish I had asked him for some sort of contact information. He is on Facebook. I told him to look for me because I will be at the same place every morning. Unfortunately, the weather was lousy the rest of the week and there was no beautiful sunrise to see and I did not go to the beach because it was cold. I had lots of other things to do. So this even made me wish more that I had gotten contact information so I could invite him to dinner.
My roommate and the owner of the townhouse, Phatty, arrived on Wednesday night. We met briefly, but I haven’t been sleeping well so I retired to my room early hoping to get more sleep.
I watched Grant again on Thursday night and then had just enough time to shower before needing to head to watch Sophie & Nate, who didn’t have school that day. We had an enjoyable day of playing games, going out to lunch and buying Valentines for the upcoming holiday and class parties. They also wanted to get cards for their parents so I have those that I will bring the day before for them to write in. I did have their clothes and bedding to wash, but the kids just played nicely together. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family to work for. It is exactly what I need in my life. I love playing Guess Who and now a card game Ruckus that they introduced me to. We also played Go Fish with face cards. I get to read stories to Nate at naptime and play dolls with Sophie. We played school a couple times this week! I get paid to do all these things, I am so blessed!
Friday night the couple, Cory & Dean, that are renting the suite on the main floor, arrived. The house was no longer all mine. I will miss the quiet at times, but I am also going to enjoy the daily interaction with these new housemates of mine. I went to bed early again that night, but woke up to Phatty and other voices talking downstairs. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep much with the talking going on. I thought it might be Cory & Dean since one of the voices was male. I decided I should go downstairs to socialize since I was awake. It ended up being Phatty and a friend, Shawn that lives in the area. We had a nice conversation and they were able to learn a bit more about me. Earlier that day I decided I needed to be honest with Phatty about being married and why I hadn’t told her originally. She was good with everything which was a relief since I didn’t want to find a new place to live. So much better to be honest and this might be part of the reason I hadn’t been sleeping well.
Saturday, Chad was due to arrive back in Jacksonville for the next 17 days. This was pre-planned before our not so great going of separate ways. We were both looking forward to seeing each other. I was also excited because the rest of my furniture was ready to be picked up. I found a desk at the place that Chad bought my jewelry from during the Christmas stocking stuffer fiasco of 2019. It is called the Atlantic Beach Arts Market, Inc. The previous weekend when Chad was in town we went looking for a desk. The owner, Chelsea, refinishes furniture and didn’t have anything complete and on the floor ready to buy. She did have one that she just needed to paint. I had bought a red chair to go with the desk when I found one and decided that red would be my accent color for my room. I loved the desk she had. She was going to repaint the chair since it wasn’t done well and paint the desk for me. After finding the nightstand then she agreed to paint it red for me. Chad rolled into town later that originally planned. I was anxious to see him and anxious to finally have everything for my room so I could live comfortably.
We spent the afternoon getting reacquainted, napping, eating yummy treats that he had purchased at Savannah Praline Company, talking, cooking dinner together and watching Miss Americana, the Taylor Swift documentary on Netflix.
It is now Sunday morning and we are getting ready to have breakfast, go to UUCJ and then hang out for the afternoon running errands and just enjoying time together.