“What in God’s name possessed you to do this?” Well, bear with me while I explain.
Earlier this year, my husband was diagnosed with a co-infection of Lyme’s disease known as Babesia. It was finaly caught after several years of slow decline, which he had attributed to intense physical labor. Eventually, we both knew something was seriously wrong. After going around and around with various doctors (all who deemed him perfectly healthy despite his misery), and tons of research, we discovered an integrative medicine practice. It was the best decision we could have made. Extensive blood tests showed Babesia (a tick-borne parasite that attacks red-blood cells), and Lyme’s. After months of very aggressive antibiotics, and supplements to treat the side effects, we are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Why am I telling you this? Because it led us to the realization that life, and health, is not guaranteed. It woke us up. We came-to, and found ourselves suffocated by our day-to-day. We were trapped in a never-ending loop of ‘work to pay the bills until we have no time to enjoy the things we work to pay for.’ Weekends (when we had them) were spent playing catch-up on the things that fell behind during the week. Quality time together was severely limited. We were burned out.
There was a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that I would try to stifle, but it always snuck back up. Is this it? Now what? Are we supposed to just sit tight and go through the motions until retirement? What if we do, and that day never comes? Nope. No thank you. Again, tomorrow is not guaranteed. And so, I stopped stifling that little nagging feeling for a moment, and let it lead.
We were on our way back from a very brief and happy weekend in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, not far from where ‘Nights in Rodanthe’ was filmed. Something you should know about me? I love the ocean…My heart belongs there. There is something about the sea air that cleanses my soul and restores my happiness. Every problem seems so minuscule compared to the vastness of the ocean. So, it would make complete sense that this is where the dreaming began.
It all started as a joke, actually. “Hey what if we just sell the house, pay off our debt, and run away?” Funny. To many, this may seem like a obvious idea. But, we felt trapped. We had built our big beautiful “dream house” just three years before, and had the basement finished for my parents. They sold the house I grew up in, and moved in. It was our responsibility to provide them with a place to live. In the meantime, however, we were sinking. Deeper into debt, into demands of work, into unhappiness. Dreaming was becoming a heartache. I would picture myself somewhere else, in a different scenario, with a happy, healthy husband, able to spend time with my family…Then, reality would come crashing back. “I can’t” became my mantra. I stopped allowing myself to dream.
In that weekend, something clicked. I decided that somehow, some way, I will. It’s amazing what happens when you put something out there. God (or the universe, or whatever you believe in) has a way of unfolding things in a way you never deemed possible. Possibilities come forth that you never even considered. This is how we came to our crazy little plan.
We had fallen in love with the idea of uprooting to a whole new place, far away, and starting over with a clean slate. If we were going to sell the house, we might as well go somewhere new for a while. Something else you should know? I have a gypsy soul. Once upon a time, it drove my husband insane, because I could never settle. I was always looking for the next thing. Eventually, he grew to understand me, in a way I never thought anyone was capable. As it turns out, wanderlust is contagious.
I mentioned an RV numerous times, but we ran into issues with campground costs. And obviously, some form of income is necessary. Then, we stumbled upon the world of campground jobs. Turns out, many campgrounds will give you a free site (and even offer pay on top of that) in exchange for work. And, they prefer to hire couples! Eureka. It would allow us work part-time, to have a small income for food and living, see the sights in one surrounding area for a few months, and then to uproot to a new place- a way to travel the country, and still come back to visit loved ones.
And so, the plan: Downsize from thousands of square feet to hundreds, with our kids and dogs in tow. Sell the house, pay off debt, throw applications all over the country and choose from there. And finally, run away. Maybe it won’t work out. Maybe it will fail miserably. Maybe we will hate it. Or, maybe we won’t. Maybe it will bring us closer together as a family, even if that means living on an extremely tight budget. Maybe it will teach my children more than a classroom ever will. Maybe we will love it. Maybe it will be the best experience of our lives. I am willing to risk it.
The dream is alive and well, and we WILL chase it. I will spend my life taking in this big, beautiful world, before it gets dark. Together, with my family, with my whole heart. I refuse to ever stop dreaming again.
The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. ~Eleanor Roosevelt