A week ago we left 99 West Trailers in Sherwood, OR, and headed south towards Southern California for winter. The folks at 99 West had done some upgrades and fixes that we had been wanting, including new vent fans, new awning, a second air conditioning unit, new water pump, and replaced a broken window shade. With all that done, we were set to fly south for the winter.
The thing is that Southern California has been our home. It’s where Sash and I grew up as kids and built our lives before we finally met each other.
On the other hand, since we launched the Road Pickle adventure in 2013, we’ve made the road our home. For me, returning to Southern California doesn’t really feel at home anymore. I mean yes, the towns, the roads, the landscape, all look familiar. But, now that I’m here, it no longer feels like I’m traveling. Somehow, it feels like I’m stuck in limbo waiting for the cold spell to snap so that we can get back on the road and travel around the country again.
Maybe some people love being in familiar territory. Maybe a lot of people feel at ease in knowing the lay of the land. Maybe for some, having predictability is more important than spontaneity. It’s just not the case with me. I need constant change. My brain tires of the routine and the cyclical. I love that fear of the unknown.
Hence, pulling this trailer across the country and arriving at a new campsite allows my synapses to continuing firing over new variables that present themselves. Yet interestingly, our home, the trailer that we pull, is not new. It’s still the same familiar vehicle consisting of the same furnishings, the same layout, the same bedding, the same everything. So while our external surroundings change, the structure we live in remains constant. There’s something interesting in wanting the familiarity of your own home being shifted to new geographic locations every week or two.
RVing, as I’ve come to learn, is not just camping. It’s more like living, even if only for a weekend. You’re taking what’s essentially a fully equipped home, customized to your liking, and then moving it to a new location where you explore during the day and retreat to the comfort of familiarity at night.
I think in a sense, that’s what RVing is about. Having that layer of comfort and predictability in an entirely new, and uncertain place.
But most RVers drive or tow their rig back to a geographically-fixed home and return to a predictable cycle of living where work, chores, and play become routine. But Sash and I however, live full time in our RV, and we change our location every week or two, be it the mountains, the desert, a city street, or a parking lot, and then adapt to wherever we are. And I like that. My brain thrives on that never-ending state of flux.
So, imagine if you and your family jump into an RV and head off on vacation and arrive at an RV park only one mile from your home. It would not be interesting at all. You wouldn’t even consider it a vacation. There would be no uncertainty. No new variables for your brain to analyze. That’s what pulling our trailer back to Southern California is like for me.
Well for Sash, returning to Southern California is all about seeing her friends and family. It’s important for her to return to the circle of people she belongs to. It’s similar to how native tribes migrated with the herd as the seasons changed, only to return to the same breeding grounds the following year. She and I grew up under similar situations: divorced parents, moving around a lot, changing schools, losing friends. Yet, we reacted to it differently. She responded by holding on to the people she belonged to. I responded by becoming a loner. She puts a lot of effort into maintaining bonds with her friends and family. I put a lot of effort into becoming independent and self-reliant.
And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My dad, my mother, my brother, all are very independent, self-reliant, and often times lonely people who find comfort in it. Sash comes from a big family, very connected to one another. Even the family members who hate each other, are still very much aware of each other. In my family, we never know what’s going on with one another.
So to sum it all up, I think I’ve finally made that break from my emotional hometown and have truly become “location independent”. Even though I still think Southern California is a great place, I don’t feel that joy in returning here. It’s like experiencing a seasonal affective disorder in sunny Southern California.
Except, there’s no blue light for a temporary cure.