Starting Over: A New Life (Part 1)

Life, as I’ve known it, is about to change.

All my life, I’ve lived in the Bay Area, in California. Born in Millbrae, CA, raised in Concord–a tunnel away from San Francisco–and over two decades in Berkeley as an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by my entire family and circle of friends. I actually have friends from elementary and middle school I am still close to. Unlike my husband, a transplant from Texas, I have never lived anywhere else.

But now we’re planning to say good-bye to life as we know it. The comfortable life that my husband, Darrell, and I have built together as a family.

Recently, I entered a local bookstore in Oakland, scanning the shelves for books that remotely resembled what we were about to do.

There were no books with titles such as:

So You Want to Leave Everything and Everyone You’ve Ever Known and Travel the World in a RV.

How to Homeschool Your Middle-School-Aged Kid While Traveling the World.

So You Can’t Afford Your Mortgage Anymore, Can’t Fully Retire Just Yet, and Still Need to Learn How to Make Money, Yet Want to Do It Remotely from Anywhere in the World.

How To Take Your Child Out of School to Learn about Different Cultures and the Kindness and Beauty that Exists On This Earth, Despite What the News and Popular Media Would Have Us Believe.

The Side Hustle: Learning to Juggle Multiple Irons in the Pan in Your 40s and 50s.

How Not to Scar Your Teenager So That He Ends Up Writing Scathing Memoirs About His Dysfunctional Family Life.

I joked with the woman helping me search for books that I should write these books. She nodded, laughing: “That’s a missed opportunity.” The writer inside me, the one who had paid so much money for an MFA in creative writing, vowed I would do it, even if what I churned out ended up resembling the Watchtower and Awake pamphlets I grew up reading and hawking door-to-door, as a child of a Jehovah’s Witness mother.

As I browsed the bookstore for signposts to this largely unknown world I was about to explore, I found glimmers of it in the Travel section, near the back corner.

There were travel memoirs. Travel books specific to a country, city, or region in alphabetical order, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Books loaded with glossy photos and fold-out maps. I wandered to the Children’s section. There were middle-grade books about bullies, space, magic, and zombies. But where were the stories — fiction and non-fiction — aimed at kids traveling the world?

The woman and I walked all over the bookstore, but there wasn’t, to my surprise, not much of a selection. For some odd reason, I thought there would be an abundance. Recently, there seems to be a surge of people online–on Instagram and on blogs–who are traveling in their RVs or vans (lots of hashtags on IG with the likes of #vanlife or #homeiswhereyouparkit—especially overland travel–which is what we’d love to do). We’d seen pictures of 4×4 RVs crossing creeks, in remote deserts, beaches, forests, all over the world: Mongolia, Australia, Columbia. We had become smitten with the Blissmobil, especially…

The idea was born the year my husband discovered he might have cancer. 2014. That was the year my husband sat me down and showed me all of his passwords to all things financial. It was the year we finally decided to hire an attorney to help us with a will, cashing in the coupon advertised in a local magazine aimed at parents for a free two-hour session in Alameda. It was the year our son was about to turn ten years old. My husband’s daughter, my stepdaughter, had just turned twenty-two years old and was still living in Istanbul for grad school. We didn’t have the heart to tell the kids that their father had cancer.

Not just yet.

 

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