Today, we stopped talking ourselves out of doing something we’ve wanted to do for years. We ditched the notions that it was too expensive and too complicated to manage. We swallowed whole the worry that we were too old to start a new, very different lifestyle. We decided to stop ‘sleeping on the earth’ as a friend of mine described it and traded in our tent for an Airstream Bambi.
Today was pick-up day.
We slow-walked all the way to the dealership. First, lounging over coffee. Then, needing, of course, to take the dogs to the dog park for a good run. And then, driving exactly the speed limit across town, our curious mixture of excitement and dread filling the truck with doubt. If either one of us had sneezed, we’d have turned around and run back to our little life with our pop-up tent and Coleman stove.
Oh, we loved that life but it’s hard sleeping on the earth, hard dealing with weather, and, not exactly hard, but extremely weird to be sleeping outside without a door that locks. Our age made doing so both adventuresome and wearying. The whole time we’d be appreciating our hardiness, we’d be admiring the folks pulling Airstreams. My dad always wanted an Airstream I remembered last night but my mother never wanted to go anywhere. And so, they stayed home for the rest of their time.
The man who sold us our new little travel trailer greeted us at the door of the dealership. George is an 83-year- old retired banker, a widower who, he told us right away, shared his Christmas ham with his 10-year-old Scottish Terrier. He told us that he’d owned seven trailers in his life but didn’t own one now because his wife insisted that he sell, lest he die first and leave her with the trouble.
George took us out to the big garage where our Bambi was getting its final going-over. “Your Bambi has never been on a street. It came here on a semi-truck.” Even a new car has miles on it, but not this little trailer. Our salesman showed us every nozzle and hose and window and lock. He explained the heat and the water and the air conditioning. He told us to buy a bottle of Mr. Clean for the toilet, use a few drops and let it slosh around while we traveled. He explained draining the ominous black water tank at least five times. He went up on a stepladder to curl the awning into place so it could be locked. George wasn’t worried about his age, I thought, why should I?
Then we signed dozens of forms and reviewed all sorts of warranties and then had a lesson on how to hitch and unhitch the trailer from our truck. Our maiden voyage was to its storage facility about five miles from the dealership, a smoother than expected trip, culminating in a rather lengthy effort to back into the parking spot we were assigned. We set her up there, my husband down on the ground in the icy wet to find the slots for the four stabilizers (notice the use of lingo here?) that would, as the storage guy said, ‘level out our trailer.” We left with a perfectly leveled out trailer sitting in the sun waiting for us to come back and go someplace lovely.
It was an amazing day. Exciting. Maybe even gleeful.