“Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Fail Again.”
People ask where we are going more often than where do we come from, one is a liquid and the other is a solid. One is an easier question to answer than the other, here is the easier story to tell.
In December of 2006 my Mom, older brother, younger sister, and even younger brother and I (dad mostly stayed behind) moved to Crystal River, Florida- Home of the Manatee. This was in the middle of my sophomore year of high school and I had just made the morning show cast so my world might as well have been over, I had a Daria level of teen angst (if you haven’t seen the show, just know that I was brooding and one foot into the goth phase.). I made a Handful of friends and was pretty devoted to the new Emo persona that I carefully crafted, the early 2000’s were a weird time, it was post 9/11 but pre iPhone and facebook. FCAT standardized testing was all the rage in Florida and it was my last year of having to submit myself to it. The morning of FCAT I sharpened my #2 pencils, applied my heavy eyeliner with the style and precision of a toddler with a sharpie, and yanked my best hoodie over my Avril Lavigne inspired belt. We were shepherded into different classrooms and seated alphabetically. My last name was Ireland and I am thankful to this day that there were no Howards, or Hudsons, or Ingrams in the classroom that day, if there were I would have never been seated behind Jesse Hammond. Let me describe Jesse, he had on cut off jean shorts, impressive sideburns, and the name of his pop-punk band “So She Says” shaved neatly into his leg hair. Needless to say Jesse was every socially awkward misunderstood 16 year old girl’s dream. I fell in love with Jesse the way you fall asleep, slowly and then all at once.
We both got part time jobs, Jesse as an usher at the local movie theatre and me as a photo clerk at CVS, when we still developed film and digital cameras were the new “thing” ( there are still images I can’t forget burned into my young retinas). When I was 17 home life became interesting, my younger sister had trouble with girls at school and was beaten up in a viral video at a sleepover. Once the video gained national attention she appeared on various news stations and was even a guest on Montel. This unfortunately led to a lot of behavioral issues for her and a hostile living environment for me. One evening after a night shift at CVS I arrived at home only to find my few belongings neatly piled on the front porch of my home. My mom could not cope with two teenage girls and I could not help her. I quietly gathered my meager possessions and drove the 25 minutes to Jesse’s house. If his mom was upset or surprised to see a 17 year old girl show up at her house uninvited in the middle of the night she hid it well. Nancy did not flinch or bat an eye as she welcomed me home, and I never looked back.
Jesse and I graduated and dabbled in community college but stopped going when our scholarships were cut due to funding. We continued working at our high school jobs and climbing the ladder diligently. When we were 21 we got married and bought a house and at this point in our careers were both shift supervisors in our companies. Five years later Jesse was the general manager for Regal Cinemas and I found myself holding the position of store manager for a CVS pharmacy. We still were not 100% happy and thought maybe more money would solve it. Jesse got promoted to a busier theatre and we sold our small home in exchange for a large two story home on five acres of land just outside of Gainesville Florida. It did not take long to realize that this was not the solution to our problems. We were stuck, stuck in jobs we did not like, stuck in a house that was too big, stuck living lives that weren’t for us. We had years of work experience but what of life experience? It was time to get unstuck.
We wanted to explore, we wanted to travel, we wanted to run away. We discovered workamping. A huge community of people (mainly retirees) who travel and live in their RV’s full time and work at parks and facilities in exchange for a full hook up site and wages. Goodbye mortgage hello Winnebago. Once the idea was in our heads there was no getting it out. We put in our notice, we sold our things, we sold our home, and we packed the drum set into our VW bus and put it in storage, there was no going back.
Flash Forward to 150 days of living in our small rv with the few things that we chose to save and looking back I know that we made the right decision. Had we not brought the idea into a reality we would most likely still be stuck, worst of all we would be stuck and asking “remember that time we talked about running away?”. Instead we say “remember that time we changed everything?”. It’s so easy to talk but so hard to act, sometimes the most impossible thing may be the only possible thing you can do for yourself. As for the question of where are we going I’ll let you know when we do. I can promise it will be somewhere we would’ve never dreamt to find ourselves a year ago, living a life I never thought we were capable of. Here’s to the wanderers, the lost ones, the explorers, and the travelers, live your life and live it well fuck the rest just give them hell.