Preparing For Homelessness
In ten days, I went from being a commercial real estate attorney in a large regional law firm to a homeless traveler in an F-150 – and I did this by choice.
Such a big switch took preparation that started well beyond this 10-day period. Scott & I saved money for well over a year and started a budget. We researched options for inexpensive long-term traveling, camping gear, WWOOFing (more to come on this in later posts), individual health insurance plans, and trucks. We downsized our belongings by donating to Goodwill, selling on Craigslist and trying not to acquire new stuff as much as possible.
That last part included changing how we celebrated holidays, birthdays and our anniversary. Instead of giving gifts, we opted for meals or activities. Scott’s birthday was a massage, Christmas was a bourbon tasting in Bardstown, my birthday was a swamp tour in Louisiana, and our anniversary was a night out with drinks at Proof (the start of it all!) and dinner at Doc Crow’s.
As our departure date approached, we kicked into higher gear. Thanks to Craigslist, we sold our cars; although they had better gas mileage, a Honda Civic and a MINI Cooper were not large enough for carrying all our gear or rugged enough for the dirt & gravel roads we planned to travel. We bought a Ford F-150 with a locking bed cover. I applied for an individual health insurance plan. We told our families about our plans [thank goodness for loving, open-minded parents who support us!].
The last ten days have been an absolute whirlwind. We finished selling all of the furniture in our apartment via (again!) Craigslist and the Facebook Garage Sale page for our area. We boxed up the items we wanted to keep but didn’t need or have room for on our trip, and then we were lucky enough to store those items at our parents’ homes. We donated the remaining items to Goodwill. We had farewell dinners and lunches with friends and family (but unfortunately not everyone we would have liked to see!). Much to my delight, I got to do all of this while suffering from a nasty cold/sinus infection/funk that kept me from getting much sleep – definitely not the state of health that is ideal when you have 1000 things to accomplish in a short period of time. Good times.
We spent the Sunday night before our departure packing up our final gear and loading the truck. Much to our disappointment, it turns out our desired gear was too great for our truck, so we had to decide what else we could live without. In hindsight, perhaps we should have tried packing the truck a bit more in advance since it really sucks to find out you’ve got to ditch even more stuff at 1 a.m. the night before you leave. Oh well, sleep is overrated, right?
Thankfully, we got it all figured out. After one more stop at my parents’ house to drop off the stuff that wouldn’t fit and a final cleaning of our apartment, we turned in our apartment keys and hit the road. The hectic preparation of the last ten days was finally behind us. I could finally relax and start to enjoy our new adventure.
Boy, oh boy, what a week it has been. This week marked the culmination of a year of planning and waiting. Edie and I started talking about this in August 2010 and had been steadily getting closer to ready to leave, but we certainly weren’t close enough. In one week, we had to sell a bedroom suite, a living room suite, and a desk. And we had to pack, sell, or donate everything.
On top of that, I (with big help from my friend Jason) had to get the truck ready to go, which entailed finishing the installation of a 600 watt power inverter to run our electric cooler, laptops, and any other electric stuff we have. The inverter is rocking back there under the back seat, but unfortunately we didn’t quite get to the rear brakes, so that’s a task I still have at some point.
The whole week was a whirlwind of activity; I think we averaged about 5 hours of sleep the last few nights. We made at least 4 stops at Goodwill with the truck bed full every time on top of nearly daily stops to Edie’s parents’ to drop another load and 2 or 3 stops at my parents’ house. I was actually looking forward to only having to sit in the truck and drive for the first day to get to Atlanta.
It was a lot like moving, but without the benefit of being able to throw the “what do we do with this” stuff in a box and deal with it at the new place. There is no new place. And of course we overestimated the size of the truck, large though it may be, and had to make some quick decisions the morning of departure to get rid of about 10 cubic feet of “nice to have” gear we’d planned to take.
But we survived and now we’re on the road and relaxing.
The Real Story from Knox:
My humans have gone crazy!
When Scott moved in back in July, I was thrilled. Mommy was happier, and I had a buddy during the day since Scott worked from home. Then things started to change.
At first, the only difference was new stuff around the apartment. My humans called it “camping gear.” They mostly kept it in boxes out of the way so I didn’t think it was a problem. When Mommy took away my convertible in exchange for a big truck though, I began to worry.
One night, they set up something they called a tent inside our apartment, and then they slept inside it for 4 nights. They made me sleep inside it with them for 3 of those nights even though we had a perfectly good bed and 2 couches.
A few weeks after that, we took a little road trip and they set up that tent again, but this time it was outside. For the most part, this trip wasn’t so bad. I got lots of walks with new things to smell and other dogs to meet. I ate toasted marshmallows inside graham crackers. The one bad thing was that the second night it got really cold – so cold I had to sleep in between my humans and under the covers. How embarrassing for a big, bad dog like me.
In the last week, things got more bizarre. The furniture and other stuff in the apartment started to disappear, and other things were put in boxes. Both my humans seemed a little stressed out, and they were constantly on the move. The only good thing was that Mommy was around more.
After they put the rest of their stuff into the truck and cleaned out the apartment, we all got in the truck and took a really long car ride. I spent most of the ride sleeping with the sun shining on me. When I woke up, it was dark. I have no idea where we are now, but at least there are new things to pee on which is cool. And at least I have my humans.