“Mom, I think I want to live in an RV.”

That Sunday’s Skype session with my mom had been like most others—until it wasn’t.

“Mom, Pier and I are thinking about downsizing and living a more minimalistic lifestyle. We want to save money at a faster rate, so we can buy some land and build a small home of our own sooner rather than later.”

(I should mention Pier and I live in the Bay Area, where the astronomical cost of housing means saving money is a foreign concept for many. We dared to rent a 1-bedroom apartment with a dishwasher AND a washer/dryer, so needless to say, our bank accounts plummet the first of every month.)

“Oh, that’s good hon. Maybe find a cheaper apartment?”

“Yeah, maybe . . . but we’re honestly kinda tired of paying rent altogether and are thinking about buying an RV to live in. There are places around here you can park overnight, and on the weekends, we’d grab a campsite outside the city.”

Presently, my mom’s face looked as though she were trying to exchange pleasantries with someone whose breath smelled of garlic and coffee. She wanted to maintain an upbeat tone so as not to upset me, God love her.

“An RV? Hon . . . I enjoy camping, but after two days . . . I wanna scream. Where will you put all your things? You’ll have to sell everything, and I want you to have nice things!”

Nice things.

I held my breath.

I could have easily responded, “Nice things?! Do you know how expensive ‘nice’ things are, and how far people fall into debt with nice things? How much people struggle and work their asses off in a volatile job market to pay for nice things?!”

But I didn’t say that.

Because she’s my mother—and she was being a mother.

Mothers want their children to have nice things—to be able to buy things they couldn’t have when they were younger. My mom wants me to have amazing things because, damn it, I’m her son and I deserve it. Living in a camper meant living below my means and depriving myself of possessions that could bring me joy.

I could feel the tears burning behind my eyes. Because I loved that she was being a mother who cared unconditionally for her son.

“I know you do, Mom,” I said. “And I love you for that. But to be honest, getting a cheaper apartment isn’t exactly cheap here.”

I went on to explain that anything below $1,700 a month in this area means sacrificing every nicety we have now anyway. At that price, there won’t be a dishwasher or a washer/dryer. It would be a 350 square-foot studio with paper-thin walls located in a questionable neighborhood.

“You’d probably prefer living in a camper, to be honest,” I said.

“I’m sorry for being a Debbie Downer. I just want you all to be careful if you do this, and I just hate the idea of you selling all your stuff.”

I reassured her we would not miss the IKEA showroom in which we’ve been living and that any personal item with any remote sentimental value would be kept and treasured.

Several weeks after that conversation, Pier and I bought our first truck camper from a

IMG-6847
Right after purchase!

young couple who had lived in it full-time for a year. The whole process was a blur. After handing over $14,250 cash, signing the title, and buying insurance, I looked at Pier and said, “Did we just buy a truck camper? Where the hell are we parking it?”

We laughed, suddenly aware of how much we were going to trip over our cluelessness and naïveté in the coming months.

I texted my mom a picture of us standing in front of it in the AAA parking lot with a message that read, “Big day today!”

She responded with a “Wow!” and a smiling emoji—but I knew that behind that smiling emoji, there was a worried mother who would have likely preferred to see a Lexus behind us.

12 Comments

  1. I enjoyed your article. You sound like such a thoughtful man, bless you for your love and care for your mom! Congrats….Way to go guys. What an adventure. This is a dream for many people. There are so many good resources out there now that will make it easier for you to learn the care and maintenance of your camper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind and encouraging words, Ledjha! We definitely need them right now. As exciting as the prospect is, there are so many things to think about—including things we haven’t even thought to think about! 😀 If you happen to know of any particular resources we should check out, let us know! Have a great weekend!

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  2. We moms often come at our kids’ decisions with our own experience as the frame of reference. So much of what we’ve all thought about how we’re to live our lives has been turned on its head. The whole “nice things” is your mom’s measure of worth or success. I used to think my kids had to go to college, had to buy a house, must not live with a partner outside of a legal marriage, etc., etc. Now, I’m over it all & have been for some time. I’ve have told every one of our kids that they need to question the so-called norm and find their own way. I’m sure your mom will watch how you guys do, and come around once she sees you thriving.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so excited for you two! For years we lived the “normal” life, working too many hours only to come home too tired to work on the home remodel – the entire time telling our son, “don’t do what we’ve done”. We finally realized that if we sold everything we could stop the crazy cycle we thought we were stuck in and retire early! We plan to pick up our RV in a couple of days, finish giving, packing or selling all of the stuff, and drive off to our new life together. We’ll also be starting by the beginning of November. I would guess that your mom will be fine as she sees you two settle into your new lifestyle and finds you to be healthy, happy and safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woo-hoo! Congrats on your all’s new adventure! Thank you for the wonderfully kind words of support. We are not even full-timing yet and already are blown away by how many encouraging people we’ve encountered here and in Facebook groups. We’re thinking about selling our furniture (most of it’s IKEA and has no sentimental value), and then renting a small storage unit for the rest. If we end up full-timing more than a few months, we’ll probably downsize even more. Very nerve-racking, but also very exciting! 🙂 Safe travels to you and yours, and hopefully we’ll see each other on the road! Do keep in touch!

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  4. Hey guys, found you by accident on Instagram. Good luck hope the big move goes ok. I did something similar back in 2011. You will get this look from people where they cock their head to one side, the next thing out of their mouth is “oh, I’m so sorry you hit a rough patch”. You can have any amount of money in savings and it’s the same look and comment. I just tell people it’s a choice, and I intend on living outside what is the acceptable norms. Enjoy. I wish you much peace and excellent adventures!

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