A few days ago marked the 20th Anniversary of the death of one of my best friends, Kristine Bosworth. Kristine had an adventurous spirit. She was a skydiver, scuba diver, she talked me into whitewater rafting, and she went to Korea for a year to meet her mom’s side without knowing how to speak Korean. When she died, the lesson I tried to take away from it was to live life to the fullest, the scary stuff usually ends up being the funnest, and follow your dreams.
Well, I am taking a major step in following my dreams and it is definitely scary: I am going to live in an RV full time while working in California!
Just let that sink in a bit.
OK, so here is the backstory. When I was but I wee lass my grandparents bought an RV to take my uncle and cousin to their wrestling meets around the nation. I was completely smitten by the idea of this. When I found out this was something retirees do full time, I just resigned myself to waiting to retire, then hit the road. I would even tell people I wanted to be a retiree when I grow up because that was the part I was looking forward to.
Fast forward to my thirties when I started working on my Masters degree. I had two professors who were married, taught online courses, and lived full time in an RV. Mind blown.
I had never considered this was something one could do while still working! One could travel while they were still young enough to really get around the places they were traveling to?!?! The problem was finding a job that allowed that freedom and my eyesight. This was also the time when my histo really hit hard. I did not know if I would even have enough sight left to drive and any job had to have great health insurance which made the idea of starting my own business to create the freedom of movement look impossible. This was before Obamacare, so even if I created a solid business, my pre-existing condition would have made buying my own health insurance pretty much impossible.
So I shelved my growing dream to live on the road before I was retired again. I moved to Indy and things started to go my way with the histo. First, I got cataract surgery and even though my retina looks pretty busted, it turned out the scarring was in just the right spots that once there was no cataract in the way, I had 20/20 vision in that eye and it was stable, so no shots! My left eye was still being difficult. I was needing shots every few months, but a few years ago some new drugs came out so now I am going a year to a year and a half with no shots. It was starting to look like I could wander out of a certain radius from my eye doctor without having to rush back for treatments.
The dream was reawakening. My house helped by spurring my desire to not be a home owner. (RV’s don’t have basements that can flood.) So I started looking out for work from home jobs that I could do on a computer over the internet and have company health insurance. This was tough. Most were sales and if you know me, sales is a terrible fit. Cold calls and small talk are the things of nightmares for me. I could not seem to convince anyone that teaching was valid experience for training positions. I had been seriously looking for about a year and had only gotten one interview. I was feeling pretty hopeless. My house was stepping up its efforts to make me absolutely certain homeownership was not for me (flooding on the second floor caused by my other nemesis, the furnace.) It was getting bad enough that my go to pick-me-up became what I like to call Camper Porn. This is where I would watch videos of tours of RV’s. Here is my favorite: Wonder Leisure Travel Van. (Yeah, baby, show me your solar panels. Bet you can fit all sorts of things in all that storage.) That’s when I made the decision that no matter what, by the end of Summer of 2019 I was going to live in an RV. Now Indiana winters can be too brutal for this, so I figured maybe short term furnished apartments or extended stay hotels for the really frigid parts could work. Either way, I was making my dream into a plan.
And that is when it happened: a great situation fell into my lap.
I am on a listserv (email list) for school librarians and someone posted a job for a Teacher Librarian in Petaluma, California, so I googled it to see where it was. It was in my California sweet spot. It is close to San Fransisco, but not in the city. It was basically on the edge of suburbia and rural in Sonoma County. That’s right, wine country! So beyond the obvious advantage of that, it also means I think there’s a better chance the suburbs won’t over run the place. This is not like Indiana where you are taking over a corn or soybean field to build a development. This is you would have to convince someone to tear out a vineyard that took years or even decades to get to that point. The Pacific is only 20 miles from Petaluma. I am most content when I am at the ocean and it would be right there! (*note: I swear I am not making this move to justify the full face snorkeling mask I bought while drunk on Amazon Prime Day, this is merely a coincidence. Really. I mean it.) Most importantly to the RV lifestyle, it has a steady climate. It will never get cold enough to freeze pipes and a furnace malfunction can be overcome with an extra hoodie instead of risking frostbite.
Then there was Petaluma High School itself. 1300 student enrollment, so not dauntingly huge. They also seem to have a strong technological and maker presence, but still have an active FFA. The most fascinating thing was they have their own Natural History and Wildlife Museum. Seriously, this place could not be anymore perfect for me, but I did not want to get my hopes up. There was always a couple of unwritten rules in teaching:
- Don’t get your masters until you are staying put, because it bumps you up on the pay scale and many places like new hires who will be on the lower end of the scale to save $$$.
- In the same vein of saving money, do not expect to get hired if you have over seven years of experience.
Well, I have not only a Masters, but also 21 credit hours beyond that and sixteen years teaching experience. Between those and being a way, far out of state candidate I was trying to tamp down any hopes.
I submitted my resume and paperwork on a Tuesday and 2 hours later they called me to set up an interview for Thursday! During the interview, the Assistant Principal told me not only do they have a good wrestling team, but they have a girls wrestling team. (OMG! They managed to be more perfect.) Petaluma don’t mess around! By the next Tuesday I was informally offered the job, so still being practical at my core, I waited until I got the formal job offer on Thursday to tell people. Just in time for me to be able to tell the kids goodbye on the last day of school Friday. That was hard.
So now I have a very busy summer getting some home repairs done, selling the house, finding storage for the few things I want to keep but not travel with, finding new homes for my 3 cats (they would be miserable in a vehicle), getting credentialed in California, and finding my RV (hey, Leisure Travel Vans. If you want to just drop off a Wonder with twin beds, 4 solar panels, generator, instant hot water heater, and the deally that makes emptying tanks easier, for a significant discount it would really help me out…)
It’s going to be a lot of work, but the best dreams are worth it.