We used to be those people riding the “live simply” wave.
We sold most of our stuff and downsized, learned how to live with less stuff and space, paid off a lot of debt, figured out how to be our own boss, bought an RV, said goodbye to a conventional lifestyle, and hit the road with the idea of a simplified life in mind.
I’ve even hashtagged a post #livesimply. Yes. *monkey covering eyes emoji*
Riding that wave hard.
But, several months into this lifestyle, and we’ve learned that it is anything but simple, and that gets pretty frustrating sometimes. More times than I’d like to admit.
Sure, there are a few necessarily simple parts to this lifestyle, like we have less stuff (less toys, less clothes, less kitchen gadgets, etc.), Mark’s and my wardrobes have been simplified to uniforms, and a lot of what we have has to be able to serve more than one function.
Most every other part of living on the road is complicated. I’ll pick a few of my favorites.
You don’t just use the bathroom without thinking about it. Wondering whether or not the pee tank is full. Knowing that in a day or two the pee tank will be full, that the major dump you’re dumping is not going away as easily and thoughtlessly as a quick flush. No, no; it’s still there, hanging out, waiting to be reaccessed in a week or two when the poop tank needs to be dumped. And you know it does because the ratio of dumpage to peet moss is imbalanced, and it stinks because, yes, it stinks. No matter what any other composting toilet user would like to admit. IT WILL SMELL AT SOME POINT BECAUSE YOUR POOP SMELLS (but then maybe that’s just ours) and you might get behind cleaning the tank out because there are many things you’d rather do than clean out the composting toilet in a public RV park/state park where, at times, you may be able to reach out and touch your neighbor’s rig.
TAKING A SHOWER
This is one of the luxuries, if not THE luxury, that I miss the most, so I am probably going to be a little long winded and a little bit bitter with this one. In the RV, it’s not as simple as just turning on the shower, waiting for it to get to the desired temperature, and then jumping in once you start to see steam pouring out and sticking to the mirrors. Chances are, if you’re living in an RV, you’re using your shower as storage at some point or another. We try not to do this for simplicity’s sake, but sometimes it just happens. Even while we’ve tried to be intentional about the way we store stuff in there (and I think we’ve done a pretty great job for the most part), there is still some readying that needs to be done. The towels are hanging on rods that swing out when someone’s using the shower, and swing back in when not in use (there have been times we’ve forgotten to swing them out before turning on the shower, and they’ve gotten wet).
We have two rubber storage baskets (one for the boys and one for me) that we keep our toiletrees in so that we can easily carry them to the bathhouse. We used to leave them on the shower floor and take them out and set them in the hall if we needed to use the shower; that got old real fast. Mark, thankfully, added rods against the shower walls that we can hang them on so we don’t have to pull them off the floor all the time.
Clearing the floor is one less thing to worry about when getting ready for a shower, thanks to the rod.
Rod. I love you. I should call you, “Rod Stewart.”
*ahem* But yes. Those aren’t the only things to consider when taking a shower in the RV. Are you boondocking (off the grid, without water/sewage hook-ups)? If you are, you have to make sure that:
- You have enough fresh water to not just take a break neck speed shower, but also have enough water left over to drink, cook with, and wash your hands.
- Make sure the water heater isn’t being spotty– that it’s doing its thing because, sometimes, the pilot light for the water heater goes out so it’s not heating any water, which means, you guessed it– no hot water! Then, you have to wait.
- Do you have enough room in your holding tanks to accomodate the dirty shower water? If not, are you okay with standing water, some of which may be dishwater? (there have been a few times when I’ve had to be okay with standing water because the tanks are full and the first place that water goes is the bathtub; thankfully, I have yet to find any peas or cheerios floating around in there. *knocks on wood*)
- You have to shower as quickly as possible because, if you are boondocking or you don’t have a water and/or sewage hook-up, you’re going to use up all the water/have standing water, and also because the hot water goes fast. You have to be strategic about when you let the water run, and when you turn it off; like, turn it on to wet your hair and body, off to shampoo and wash, on to rinse, etc., because it’s kind of a bitch to run out of hot water while you still have conditioner in your hair and shaving cream on one leg.
Also, here’s our sweet subway tile (purchased online from Smart Tiles) tub wall that gets no camera love.
MICROWAVE AND BAKING
The same way the shower ends up becoming storage, the microwave and oven do, too, only they aren’t set up so that you can install a Rod Stewart (see the shower section if you are confused) ’cause then you wouldn’t have room for your pizza or your cake, and you might end up starting a fire because you can’t leave things like napkins in there. So, before you can nuke your coffee, because you really gotta’ make it count for all the time and stress that went into making it (more on that later), you gotta’ make sure you pull out the basket of pantry items, and before you can just throw a loaf of bread in the oven, you gotta’ pull out the cast iron skillets, baking dishes, and anything else you’ve desperately crammed in there. This stuff ends up going to the back of the RV (at the foot of our bed because it’s a pain in the ass if it’s on the counter, not being used, and in your way).
This is up there on the “Things I miss most about being in a house” list. I miss not having to figure out how we’re going to get cash/coins if our bank’s not close by. Heck, I miss not having to use coins to do laundry. I miss not having to haul the laundry from the RV to the car and then from the car into the laundromat. I miss being able to take the shirt off my back so I can throw it staight into the washer because I am in the privacy of my own home and not a public laundromat full of people I don’t know, who are looking at me oddly, shielding their children’s eyes, and wanting to call the cops on me. Yeah, I miss it.
Having a delicious, hand-crafted coffee is not as easy as it used to be. And this is hard because we found the best way to make a cup of coffee, and it’s far from simple. It’s also so damn hard to shake. Your counters, or lack of counters remind you how spoiled and ridiculous you are for wanting it every single morning. Even if we were open to making some sort of compromise (Mark was looking at small Keurig machines at Target last week for crying out loud), it would involve a machine that takes up limited, precious counterespace, counterspace that we try real hard to keep clear of anything that we aren’t cool with looking at all of the time, anything that doesn’t add to the aesthetic, anything that gets in the way.
Every morning we boil water on the stove, up until this past week we’d been grinding beans every morning, before funneling it into the aeropress and pressing it, we heat milk to a specific temperature that we, then, end up foaming with a handheld battery-operated foamer and pouring over the top of it, and we toss in a bit of raw sugar for good measure. Absolutely delicious and complicated. We’re currently brainstorming ways we can simplify this process without sacrificing too much on flavor. I know that we could get a pour over or just use our Portland Press (which we do, when we want more than a couple cups), so we’re really kinda’ asking for it with this one, because some things are just worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Sure, it may seem like I have a few beefs with this lifestyle. And sometimes, I do. Not unlike the frustrations you may have over your dear child’s still unrefined table manners, or the traffic you have to sit in to get to your favorite part of town. They’re challenges that lead to something good. Like, you know, all that toilet stress eventually leading to a successful emptying of your bladder. Sorry, I kind of had to. 😀
The point of this post is to point out something that we discovered several months into this adventure: no, it is not all, or even mostly, about a life lived simply. But all of the complications and challenges have led us to something even more beautiful, something that makes far more sense. Something that I’m pretty confident could mean even more than a life lived simply. Something like a life lived intentionally.
We’ve learned more about how we want to live and be, in this year on the road, than we ever have before. This lifestyle has taught us to strive for intention in every decision that we make– from seemingly little things like selecting what groceries we purchase to stock in our little fridge, to the much bigger things like, how we can best spend our time together. We’re still far from having it figured out, but we have a more clear understanding and perspective than we ever have before, and that brings about a real special kind of relief — composting toilet, coin laundry, and all.