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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Airstream Dreams: Part II

The Airstream is home.  We think we're going to call her "The Silver TARDIS," but that's still up for debate.  I love catching a glimpse of her out the kitchen window and remembering how we found her and made her ours.

As we've gone through all of our plans and dreams the past few years, one of the people we've talked with a lot has been Trevvor's mom, who is beginning her own adventure now too.*  We were all in this unsettled place, knowing we needed to do something different but not sure what that something looked like.  During our "whirlwind trip to everywhere" at the end of May, we had the chance to talk through these ideas again in person.  "Well you know," she said, "I'm going to need a place to live when I come back to the States in a few years."  That changed everything, because now we were looking at Airstreams as co-owners with her: Trevvor, Charles and I living it in now, and Leslee living in it later on.

One evening early in the last week of the trip, Leslee and I were looking at, just casually, you know, to see what was out there.  I had pulled up all the Airstreams that were in the states we'd be traveling home through (there aren't many Airstreams in Alabama).
One ad really jumped out:  It was 31 ft, perfect for full-time living; a 1975 model (our favorite decade of Airstreams); a center bath, which meant we wouldn't have to walk through Charles' room to use the bathroom at night and also avoided the problem of the heavy rear-bath separating from the frame; they had installed a composting toilet like we wanted, opening up our parking options since we won't need a black-water connection; the floors had been redone with a lovely pine board, exactly what we wanted; there was already a large fridge for all the produce we buy; and all the built-in furniture had been removed, so now we could include exactly and only what we needed.  AND it was only 20 minutes off our route through Virginia.  AND it was under $10,000 (a very reasonable price for such a find). Ummm, yes please!

So we emailed the owners and arranged to see her on Friday as we traveled south.  Our last few days were very full--both packing up Leslee for her big trip and preparing ourselves for a possible very big purchase.  They sent us the link to their blog they'd used while they renovated it the previous year, and it was really neat finding so many similarities between them and us and so many parallels in our journeys.

When we arrived at their farm Friday afternoon, I was trying not to be too excited.  We explored the Airstream thoroughly.  We discussed its purchase rationally.  And then, we told her we'd take it.  On the condition that we could find a way to haul it down.

So we put the word out on Facebook.  By the next day, we had a two different trucks we could borrow.  (Our friends are so generous!  Seriously.)  Our plan was to make the trip back to Virginia two weeks later to bring her home.

But that's a whole 'nother chapter.

*Leslee is moving to Australia, ultimately to teach, and has sold her house, her car, and her possessions (less a very small storage unit) for an undetermined period of time.  Helping her give away and pack up and throw out all her stuff during our trip really got us excited about doing the same thing at our house.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Airstream Dreams: Part I

It started with heavy doses of reading Little House on the Prairie and The Boxcar Children in elementary school.  I remember thinking how incredible Ma Ingalls was, keeping a such a small, basic home so well and cheerfully.  How creative oldest sister Jessie was in transforming an abandoned boxcar into a comfortable escape for her and her siblings.

All children love small spaces.  We all loved making blanket forts, sitting under tables, cozying up in a closet, setting up in play-houses, sleeping in lofts or tents.  (Well, at least I did.  But maybe I was just as weird then as I am now.)  My reading about families making homes of small spaces just encouraged this enjoyment.

As I grew up, my expectations of comfort changed from closets to over-sized houses.  When Trevvor and I got married and I saw our apartment for the first time, I cried.  How could I set up house in only 450 square feet??  But I did, and when we moved out, I cried again.

After several more moves and a house-purchase later, we were all set up in our current home: a three-bed, two-bath, modest 1200 square foot split-level in a 1970s Birmingham suburb.  It was a good "starter-home," I figured, and that summer we settled in for a least five or ten years.

But after a few months, the moving itch started.  The maintenance and constant grass-mowing was getting tiresome.  We hadn't known how great we had it when we were living smaller!

About that time, we discovered the Tiny House Movement, as it's known.  Here were people choosing to live in less than 200 square feet!  Every inch of these homes was filled with both beauty and purpose.  "Wow," we said.  "That's what we want."  The THM was like a gateway, and one of the worlds it opened up was that of the shiny Airstream.  Simplicity and flexibility.  Way too cool.

But we'd just bought this house, and we wanted to start a family, so we kept chugging away at the American Dream, accepting the status quo, albeit in a rather grumbly way.  We didn't want to be discontent, so we tried to bloom where we were planted, yet every few months, some new hippie scheme would surface, only to be covered up again by the reality of those devilish details.

That was nearly three years ago.

When Charles was born last January, we said, "We're staying put!  We have the baby to think of!"  We also had four cats and a dog.  We would never fit in a tiny house of any kind, especially since we wanted more kids!

But once we settled into life with a baby (sometime around his six month birthday), the itch started itching again.  "We could do this with a baby," we thought, looking around at all of the space and stuff in our house we barely used and thinking of all the time and money we spent keeping up a house and yard we didn't even want.

So we started looking into selling our house.  We listed lots of stuff for sale on Craigslist and eBay.  I spent probably untold hours looking at used Airstreams online and reading tiny-house/minimalism blogs.  Because by now, we'd narrowed our small-living dream down to Airstreams.

During the last nine months, this dream has come on and off, as those details would surface again and we would decide it was impossible.  As some of you know, our plans have changed quite a lot.  We looked at selling our house with a realtor, selling our house ourselves, renting our house ourselves.  Buying a smaller house, renting a smaller house, renting an apartment.  Staying in Birmingham, moving to Huntsville, moving to Georgia.

But the Airstream kept "shining through our murky plans," as it were.  For a while, we even thought we'd be out of our house and full-timing it by April 19.  Obviously that date came and went, and still no firm timeline of what we wanted to do and when.  We just knew why.

And last week, the "why," apparently, proved to be enough.

...TBC :)

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