One year isn't even enough. With such a limited time frame, we are pressed to move upwards, into the cold zone. I am trying my best to be appreciative of the fact that we are living as a full-time family, but honestly, the weather was such a crappy friend on most of our trip. I mean, we had deep freeze for most of our stay at our beach resort (this never happens they claimed), then we had the wacky cold weather that started snowing out of no where when we were in DC (that is such a weird weather!! they said)... oh and the south carolina farm? "It's been raining and so cold, which is unusual for us." *eye rolls* Apparently, the cold front pretty much followed us throughout the entire trip.
And now? We are following it because we have to go north. If you hear a frustrated growl emitting from a lady, it's from me.
Well then, if this trip taught time one thing, it's that planning ahead can be a bad idea and not planning well pretty much has the same result. I know that seems confusing, trust me, it's the truest way I can describe the rv-planning. Best thing we can do is to shrug our shoulders and try and make the best out of it.
We headed into eastern parts of Tennessee, fully aware of 20's-30's temps for the week. I've pretty much given up on having any hopes of us sitting outside of Meraki and eating our meals at a picnic table with an idyllic weather.
I knew it'd be cold and that there was a possibility of snow at Crossville, Tennessee. What I did not expect was the beautiful snow that graced us this morning. I was thrilled when I saw thick snowflakes floating down and everything looked so clean and peaceful, so excited that I woke my boys up (Eitan, being a tween he is, went right back to sleep). I am glad I did because it was short-lived. Literally, within an hour the snow was gone.
Then new problems came up.
My boys noticed water dripping from the window frame in my bedroom. We never had that issue with all THOSE rain and cold weather we've had lately, today was the first time it happened. I realized that the snow on top of Mer melted and pooled into one specific area, which obviously got right into a crack in the window frame. I went up on the roof and put a towel there, a very redneck DIY approach, and the leaking stopped immediately.
I thought to myself, it's official, it'll always be a "Today's weather is a 100% chance of Be Shitty to Meraki."
It looks like I gotta take out the window frame (Fulltime Families on Facebook said it's easy to do) to dry it, putty it and caulk it, but I cannot do it because I need someone else to "catch" the window as I pop it out. Errrrmmm. The "resort" we are at (laughing so hard) is in the middle of nowhere and we're the only ones there. Guess I gotta wait until the next resort, as it's much bigger and sorta fancy. I'm sure there will be someone who will help. This will add another notch in my belt of being a handy RV Lady.
Anyway, I bid thee farewell to the south, to any possibilities of warmth, thanks for a fabulous time. And now, onwards to our other half of the journey up into north pole.
And so, just like that, half of the year just arrived. Are we wiser? Travel worn? Wanting more experience? Ready to go home? Not ready to go home? We're all of that.
A dear friend of mine asked me a question in a way that nobody else ever did. I mean, people have asked about why I am doing this trip, how did I think of this trip, etc etc etc. But when he asked me with an emphasis of "you" as what did I REALLY want out of this?
I found myself rambling an answer and finally replied, "me. I want myself, me out of this."
And so far, I think I am succeeding with that.
You know, when you stretch a rubber band so far and wide, it becomes so taut? Then you let go, it flies. Or, it snaps broken. For me, last night was a moment where my rubber band was so taut and instead of flying off or snapping, it was unnaturally cut. Just like that.
The ability to completely detach myself from the situation and to step out and watch the drama unfold was unnerving.
Let’s back up a bit. Our trip to DC and a farm at South Carolina was amazing. It was constant stimulation in a good way. Friends, foods, environment and so NOT rv. In a way, it was like we were “home,” and suspended in comfort.
It was fine. I felt fine. It was like a limbo of fine. And if you know me, whenever I say “fine,” it’s a lethal vocabulary on my radar. Then my friend asked me, “when you go back to meraki, what of your inner peace?” “I think I got my inner peace….” I hesitantly said and she replied, “I hope you hold on to it when you get home.”
That shook me up.
For the first time, since embarking on this trip, I dreaded my future. I am talking about when we get home. What then? Really. What? That weight of the world sent my confidence collapsing to the ground.
The best way to describe how I was before starting the trip is, I was a squirrel high on cocaine and trying to flee but its bushy tail was nailed to the cement. Now? I’m just a cat basking in the sunlight and purring away. Or so, I thought.
So, that comment became deeply embedded in my subconscious as we headed back to meraki. I had the incredible urge to fly out of my skin, to lead pedal meraki the fuck out of there to go home, ripping off the plug and water hose as I fled.
As soon as we returned back to mer, it was awesome. We felt at home and even Oisin started dancing saying it was great to be back. Now fast forward to last night.
Chaos. Complete utter mess of emotional shitstorm. My boys had become way too dependent on technology during the trip up north and went through severe withdrawal. Oisin especially. It has gotten to the point where he physically hurt Aidan several times, like real bad, slamming doors, breaking things and honked the RV horn at 10:30pm and I felt very afraid. I thought that the cops would come and arrest me, because from an outsider perspective, it probably sounded like I was doing the yelling, slamming, honking and making kids cry.
When actually, it was the scissor that cut the taut band, I sat on my yellow ottoman and watched everything in slow motion. I truly felt myself stepping away, mentally and emotionally checked out, as I did my best to calm Oisin down, to console Aidan and to soothe bewildered Eitan.
When everyone calmed down and no cops came, we sat together and talked about different things, laughing and hugging each other. That moment was likened to us sitting in a circle and singing Kumbaya My Lord with a tired shaky voice.
Finally, slept overcame them but me. I replayed the last two days over and over in my head. I took a deep breath and have resigned myself to this fact: I have no fucking idea what I am doing.
At least I have some comfort in knowing that I don’t have to have it all figured out yet and that I am perfectly capable of being mommy-of-the-year-medal-worthy calm when I am cut broken.
This is our first trip to leave Meraki so far away (parked in a small town at South Carolina) as we're in the DC area for few weeks. We won't see her for a long time and we miss her tremendously. Seriously. Staying at a really sleazy inn did not help at all. I had hopes to be way up north, close to DC, yesterday. Unfortunately, we had a late start due to a storm that had us stuck at Acworth, Georgia. Ya know, the tornado-flash flood warning type. I swear, we have had all types of global warming shit thrown in our path since we started (heat wave- the 116 degrees type, ice from the hard freeze, near hurricane wind gusts, flash flood, smoke from the fires, tornado warning...). So, we ended up being stuck in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I could not drive anymore. I was beyond exhausted and used Kayak to find a good deal that had free hot breakfast, free wifi to get the boys off of my back and a fridge to keep our foods cold. I found Days Inn of Northlake to have good deal, the photos looked good and the indoor pool/spa looked amazing.
Wrong. As I went to the front desk, I should have seen the warning signs, I was assaulted with cat piss smell. I've NEVER smelled a space that strong with cat piss. Holy. I looked around, it was also the same place for the "free hot breakfast." I gagged and proceeded to sign in. I already paid for the reservation and it was nonrefundable. The young lady at the desk seemed to be high on something and clapped her hands in glee several times because I was writing her a note (Deaf, you know?). Okkkaaayy.
I walked out and to my horror, saw the pool. Whatever it was supposed to be, was actually a building in ruins with wooden panels hammered in the wall and some windows broken off. I told myself, oh man.. there goes the free breakfast and now the pool.
The room. Getting to our room was creepy AF and my boys were shocked. We could smell human piss as we walked up the stairs. I hoped, fervently, that the room would be decent and that the wifi would be good.
No lights were working. The tv was broken (it was a 1980 tv), wifi? It trickled like a riverbed plagued with drought. The remote controllers (yes, plural form for a broken tv......) had sticky substances on them. The front door wouldn't shut fully and the air conditioner randomly went on, sending the dirty drapes floating upwardly, ever so gently.
I know I should have told the boys to forget this place and just go. But, I was SO tired. I thought that our staying in that sleazy inn was safer than me driving some more (it was 9pm and I've been driving since 10am). I told the boys NOT TO TOUCH anything and to stay in their dirty clothes for bed. None of us could sleep. We were creeped out, my boys freaked out and I told them that I wouldn't endanger them. Finally, 12:30am came, they all were fast asleep and I? Not a wink.
I complained to my husband about the inn and he told me to take photos. That was a mistake. I started taking photos and noticed that there were strange marks in the sink and the bathroom door had signs of damage that seriously looks like someone was trying to claw out of the door. The stairs right out of our door had caution tape with furnitures blocking it. Oh My God, I thought to myself, "did I take my boys to a crackpot motel?!"
As soon as we woke up, made a beeline out of that Days Inn and I lead pedaled outta of that area. We had 7 more hours to get to our destination in DC. I honestly did not want to drive that long and I also struggled with taking another risk of a shitty inn/motel/hotel.
I decided to find a hotel somewhere and to be more vigilant when choosing. Rather than choosing price as a filter, I picked "ratings" and was recommended for this family friendly Springhill Suite. We pored over the photos and even googled it. It looked legit.
And legit it is, indeed.
I told the boys as soon as we got into our room, to not sit on anything, to peel out of those clothes and take a shower. It was the fast shower turns ever and I went last.
When it was my turn, as soon as the water hit my face, I heard a chorus of "hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelllllllluuuuujjjjaaaahhhhhhh!"
Never, in my wildest dreams, I thought I'd get to make this much memories thus far. I knew there would be gems of a moment galore, but not like this.
As we reach our 74th month in January, our time at the beachfront site has to end. I'm so glad we picked this month to truly call it a home because it felt like years, several lifetimes actually, that we've "lived" here.
I had a strong feeling that this month would be a good start to the year of 2018. So many new doors would open and opportunities will arise. My knowing it became a truth in advance and now, it's a reality.
I absolutely vow to fully throw myself into being an artist and to live as one. To give myself that chance at that lifestyle, to be able to soak into my passion freely. I am very excited to see what will become of myself. I dubbed my studio at home as the falling phoenix based on a song by Josh Groban, Let Me Fall. Here's the chorus to the song:
Let me fall
Let me climb
There's a moment when fear
And dreams must collide
Someone I am
Is waiting for courage
The one I want
The one I will become
Will catch me
So, I am falling freely and going big. Wish me luck.
Let me share you a funny story that is true and that it is not exaggerated. You know, my being Deaf which means, I automatically was forced to take speech classes. Ya know, to become “normal.” Somewhat.
Our speech teacher had a little cart where she’d bring it with her everywhere. On that cart, there were a whole bunch of audistic devices in hope to save Deaf children. I remember that cart just as if it is right next to me now. Tall, dark, green, dusty and cluttered AF. My twin sister and I shared the same speech classes for years. During 4th grade, there is one particular speech class that will never be forgotten for the both of us.
We were practicing certain notes and usually, we had to do it at the same, like creepy synchronized voices emitting near perfection sounds of ch- ch-, f-f-. When we were practicing our f’s, there was a weird smell. It smelled like fart mixed with something fruity. Sorta like a Juicy Fruit smell with a fart scent. I looked at my sister and we exchanged that "wtf" look. We turned our horrified expressions and looked at our speech teacher. Bless her heart, she improvised right on the spot.
“Yes, what you smell is pineapple fart. Can you say that? Pineeeeeappleee f-f-faaaaarrrtt.”
In unison, “pineeeeeeappllleeeeee ffaaaaarrrrtttt,” we chimed.
Yes. This really happened. And yes, recently, my twin sister told me that there is actually such thing as a pineapple fart. For reals.
So. My boys know this story. They laugh EVERYTIME I share about it. Also, it’s my trick to get them to laugh when taking photos. I'd look through the lens and then say loudly, "pineapple faaaaaarrttt!!!"
I guess that’s probably the only good thing that came out of our speech trainings.
Thank you, Mrs. Rudy.
At what point do you just stop caring? When preparing for meraki journey, I researched all about living fulltime. Across the board, one thing was common (well, a lot really), and it was: be prepared to always be fixing something.
They weren’t kidding. Mer is my baby. She has to be, because she houses us, feeds us, moves us and without her, none of this would happen.
I vowed to take good care of her. I renovated Mer so she could be home and doing that, I’ve turned out to be a woman who can build things. Fix things. Heck, I was a DIY rv lady.
Today, I discovered a potentially damaging and costly problem.
I stared at it. Prodded and poked at it. Shrugged my shoulders and said, fuck it. I went back to my chair in front of the fire pit and watched the slow descent of the sunset, also known as the magic hour.
It has been very cold the past few days. A historical-never-happened type of cold. I swear, I’ve experienced every global warming shit that has been thrown in our path since we started. I couldn’t sleep all night last night because I worried that my not emptying the heater tank caused monetary damages. I woke up so early, stressed out.
I yanked my boys out of the hotel room, for two reasons: I couldn’t’ wait to get out of there because it made me miss my brick house way too much, and I was wrought with visions of Meraki’s floors covered with frozen puddles.
It was the longest 6.7 miles of driving (from the hotel to mer). When we arrived, everything looked great, the only damage I saw was an easily replaced filter hooked to outside’s pump. Otherwise, we survived with zero damages.
Until I got some logs from the back storage of Mer for the firepit. I noticed a hole and a wide gap that was NOT something to ignore. I stared. I felt the wall of the area, it was damp and soft and oh so very moldy. What the fuck?
It is something that HAS to be fixed. Something hazardous if not heeded. Right now, after worrying all night and dealing with the cold, I am past the point of caring. I’m just going to sit here, with our firepit and watch the sunset.
They were not kidding, repairs on a daily basis. Always something. Well, as I look at the flames licking on wood, I am reminded that shit does happen, but it is how we react that tells of our character. So, my reaction?
Sit. Enjoy the fire, sip my beer and smile. I know everything will be okay.
Cheers to not caring at the moment, because otherwise, I'd lose my shit and nobody wants that.
I love this. Staying at the same place for at least 2 weeks is cool, because it’s like we are floating in this dream-like lifestyle. A routine is set and it makes everything easier. It helps that we are right on the beachfront of the white sands at Miramar Beach. Truly.
Despite the very cold weather we’ve been getting lately, we are basking in the beauty of our site. Currently, we’re in a hotel to avoid the deep freeze. I didn’t want to deal with using the propane continuously to keep Meraki warm. It’s our first time to stay at a hotel since we embarked on this journey.
The WiFi is way better, that’s for sure, but we found ourselves feeling the cabin fever and anxious to get out. Oh and, the beds are amazing for jumping. It’s sorta like a mini adventure on our adventure.
I’m looking at the calendar and see that it’s already 17 days and we’re halfway through our one month long stay. Two more weeks of waking up to the sunrise, doing homeschooling, some screen time and then sitting outside on the beach with our firepit as the sun descends.
Then it’s off to Atlanta and pretty much nonstop moving until it’s time to go home. I’d be lying if I say that I’m not stressed thinking about the end of this one of a kind bliss… but, for now, we’ll just let ourselves float away in happy boredom.
I also want to share an article I wrote for the UNUM Magazine, about finding my meraki.
Special thanks to: Tricia English for publishing my raw piece and to Elise Nye for bringing me to her as well as my GIF gals for encouraging me to stay real. Love you guys.
They say it takes two weeks to form a new habit. Break it even. It’s like one minute at a time for two weeks and then all of the sudden, it’s baby steps toward something permanent.
Few weeks back, I was so frantic inside my core, like a lava lamp vigorously shaken while hot. All the little bits and pieces floated, completely unhitched. Then I got sick. My lamp was off and they all sank down to the bottom, melded a single solid lump of cold wax. I questioned a lot of things, especially about choices in my entire life that have led up to this.
One of the biggest things that gnawed at my peace was that sense of being alone. I am fully aware of the amazing love and support I have from so many people regarding this journey however, I still felt incredibly utterly despondently alone. I made this choice and regardless of how amazing this experience is, my aloneness is present and will be even more at the end of this trip. So, with this revelation, here’s a haiku I wrote:
alone than ever
surrounded by everything
yet, the best moment
The realization and acceptance of my being alone has allowed me to warm up and float up gently, causing my life to seem as mesmerizing as a lit lava lamp. I am okay with it and I am now a big warm blob levitating and embracing little pieces at the slightest touch. It’s the step towards something permanent, a me that’s okay with being who I am.
I then wrote:
what is one more light
when you can shine so much more
hotter than that fire?
Anyway, hoo wee, back to the topic of “habit forming/breaking.” It is impossible to form a habit on Finding Meraki, we’ve been moving from one place to another, never longer than 11 days. Now today is our first time to be at the same place at day 12. I found myself itching to explore another town, looking at different places and hotels deals. I stopped myself. I picked this place to stay for one entire month solely to experience a lifestyle I’ve always wanted, and that is, living on a beach.
And it’s the place to be. The place where it’s the tipping point of knowing what happens next. The place to be daily inspired from. The place that I can make an entire book out of. It’s my meraki.
I sincerely do not intend to offend. I speak from the very core of my experience and with that in mind, I am 100% allowed to bitch about my own kids. What you will read may seem like I probably shouldn't have had kids. So, I'm nipping that thought bud right here. I love being a mom. I love my kids. They are my world. But. Holy. Freakin. Hole. In. The. Pie! My world, aka: the boys, are also my Hell. My pillar of strength and patience had fallen and crumbled, a lot, the past week. So, set your judgement aside as I share.
a very tired and frazzled mother
Oisin is my wild child. He defies everything, even after a nanosecond of me giving instructions on not to do this or that. Despite my being consistent and strict, my firm hold on him is like holding slimy goo.
For example, we were at Wal-Mart. He got so excited as soon as we got in and said, "I wanna go and check out Nintendo Switch's Odyssey game!!" "wait, let me get my shopping cart, DO NOT LEAVE!!! STAY!!" He looks at me, turns and runs, regardless of what I said. Minutes later, he comes back and declares that he couldn't find the Nintendo Switch. "I told you to stay!!! Why did you go off like that???!!!!" "Oh, I know where it is, it's fine!!" "I don't care if you know where it is, you're in a store with many adult strangers and there are sick people out there!!" *rolls his eyes* "I told you, I am fine. I can do it."
He does what he wants to do, even if he knows that it is wrong.
Aidan. Let me tell you about this kid. He's very bright. He's shy. He observes and comes off as an average kid by manipulating people around him. He does that because he likes being comfortable. He doesn't like challenges. Whoever throws challenge his way will suffer every breath and step they take. Getting a command or request in (which usually consists of one short sentence) turns into an hour long battle.
"I'd like for you to rea-" "no." "....---read at least 2-" "no!" "at least 20 mi-" "no!!" "if you say no one more time, I'm not allowing screen time!!!" "no!!!!!!" "what did I just say???" (and the sentence is overlooked because he shuts his eyes and shakes his head back and forth).
Eitan. Honestly. Bless that child. That poor poor child. The oldest. The most responsible one and probably the one with the most patience in this Motorhome. When he misbehaves, I rarely punish him, because, man... it probably was for a good reason. However, he does put on those bossy pants and push Aidan and Oisin's buttons, a lot. He also uses his age and size to his advantage, not for the good, tho. Today, I had to make a quick run to the store. I came back and found Meraki in a war zone. I was gone for 15 minutes. Oisin had red marks all over his back and Aidan was a wailing banshee. Eitan? He was in the corner with pure evil in his eyes and said, "I quit. I want to go home, I quit being a member of this family." I don't know the details of what happened, and I, honestly at this point, don't give an eff.
He still gets the medal for being the best member of this family.
I'm gonna regale you guys a tale of hell I went through recently.
Few nights ago (when I was very sick with sinus infection and barely functioning), I fell asleep at 11:45pm. I woke up an hour later and busted my boys using Nintendo Switch and MacBooks. WTF. I was half awake and really disortiented. I asked them nicely to please go to bed and that it was almost 1am, to turn off everything and I crawled back into bed, promptly falling asleep. 15 minutes later, the RV shook and someone tapped my shoulder so roughly that I was jarred awake. Oisin said, "Aidan is really hurt!!!" I couldn't see, I didn't have my glasses on. I bumbled around to find my glasses and then saw Aidan screaming and crying in pain. I told Aidan, "be quiet!!! it's 1am and there are people around us!! (hello, we're in RVs next to other RVs)." Eitan and Aidan started to do the "he started it" song and I stopped them. I said, "I don't care!!! I need my sleep, drop it and go to bed!!" Aidan did his growl and stomped to the hallway and just freakin' screamed. I was so so so shocked. So shocked that I texted my husband saying I wanted the boys to go home and for me to finish the trip alone, that I regret being a mom and that I hated being a mother.
I went to bed upset and woke up feeling worse with a fever and felt incredibly discouraged.
There's no easy way to say this or sugar coating this post, they really were and are assholes. I have done my best with being nurturing and patient. I was consistent. Fun, loving, witty and patient. Now? I feel like an utter failure of a mom. As a person. Is my finding meraki journey all about me realizing that I regret being a mother?? The last few days were good and redeeming, however, that little black cloud of regret still stinks inside of me.
They, and I, are fortunate because I am able to acknowledge that what I am feeling is normal and I also know that I am not alone. I've come to the conclusion that, in the dictionary, the definition of asshole (aside from the obvious physical part of the body) would have a portrait of an adorable smiling child next to the word.
just a mother who fled from society's constraints and is super excited to wake up to the outdoors, remain braless daily and teach her boys the art of boredom and discovery.