downsizing

The holiday is over, which means it's time to get back to routine. 

One problem ... I have no routines. 

For the past few weeks, life has been about finding gaps and cracks between 'must-dos' in which I could ply my craft. It's been a bit like the old days, when I had to find time to write among the scattered chunks of time I had between working and doing household stuff. Only now I was slowly dismantling my usual workspace as I went, breaking my office (and home) down into so many boxes, like pulling apart a picture into its component pixels. 

That is to say, we finally got packed and moved. 

So the story here, in short, is that a little over a month ago we finally got a real offer on our house. We countered, they countered, and we landed on something that made all of us happy.

The house was sold! In 45 days we'd be ...

Whoah ... homeless!

That was the sudden realization that hit us as we cooled from our victory dance. For all our dreaming and talk about the RV life, there were some facts we had yet to contend with: First, we didn't yet have and RV, so there was nothing for us to move into. And second, we actually needed the cash from selling the house to buy the RV, and we wouldn't have that until after the signing.

Yikes.

And here's a real fun twist—the signing got moved up.

Ok, ok ... deep breaths. Think of something calming. Kittens. Puffy white clouds. Kittens made of puffy white clouds.

Our house was going to be someone else's house in just a week or so, and we had nowhere to go. Plus, we had to pack! And get movers! And not be homeless.

There was a moment in there in which Kara and I had to think hard about our plan, and in that thinking we came to an inescapable conclusion. If we didn't want to be homeless or possibly living out of a truck tent for a few weeks, we were going to have to do something drastic. We'd have to do something we thought ... we swore ... we'd never do again. We'd have to take an almost unthinkable step.

We would have to rent an apartment.

You know how sometimes you have big plans, and you dream about them, and you put things into motion to make those big plans into a reality, and then suddenly you realize you haven't quite thought about all the steps in between now and then? That was how we ended up scrambling to find and rent an apartment, despite the fact that an apartment had never been part of our equation. 

It wasn't that we were opposed to apartment living. We had actually both lived in apartments for large chunks of our lives. But when we'd bought our house, we more or less figured that apartment living was behind us for good. We had never really thought about the prospect of "going back."

And I think that's where we were having a bit of faulty logic. Because really, "going back" isn't at all what we'd be doing. This wasn't going to be some slip back into a lesser state of being—this was actually a stepping stone to something bigger that we'd been planning for a long time. It was maybe an unexpected step, but it was a sure and safe and stable step nonetheless. Far from going back, getting an apartment was actually a big leap forward.

That is, if we could find a place on short notice.

Lucky for us, a brand new set of apartments had just opened up only a couple of blocks from where my in-laws live, in a gorgeous neighborhood that we've actually thought about moving to quite a bit over the past couple of years. And, even luckier, these apartments were only at about 50% occupancy since opening a few months ago. We practically had our pick of the lot. 

In short order, Kara and I had deposits paid, movers scheduled, storage units rented, and a move-in date decided. And, on that date, things went pretty much as planned. Somehow, through willpower and magic and lots and lots of prayer, we managed to cram a four-bedroom house into a one-bedroom apartment. And the only real casualty was my work routine.

Turns out, this apartment is an incredibly nice place, and perfect for us to live a little more worry-free while we sort out all of the RV stuff. And because of this experience, we've figured out that we need more of a plan than we had before. Which, if you think about it, is kind of duh. 

The good news is, we now have plenty of time to suss out all the details. We have breathing room. We have a beautiful place to live while we pick out and order the RV we're after, and while we spend a bit more time culling down our mountain of personal possessions.

Downsizing, it turns out, is kind of tough to commit to. That's my stuff. But it's incredibly necessary when your life plans include cramming everything you own into as small a space as you can manage. we weren't ready for that part. Now we have time to get there.  

The plan from here: Get rid of as much excess stuff as we can over the next few months; buy a small camper for ranging out from our apartment on weekends and holidays, so we can start that part of our journey right away; and get the larger, full-time RV after we've got things trimmed down and have our plans under control, so we can dive right into that RV life. 

The apartment was kind of an unexpected addition to the general plan, but it's a welcome one. It's actually quite a nice place, and it does make things easier. No lawn to mow, no siding to replace, no appliances to worry about breaking down—all of those details and worries are taken care of by the management in our new digs. All we have to do is decide how we want to proceed—make a plan and work the plan. 

I'm still figuring out the new routine. At the moment I'm sitting at our kitchen counter, with the sounds of our home all around me. Kara is in the bedroom doing her morning workout and getting ready to go back to work after a week of vacation and holiday. There are still a few stray items scattered around, covering our dining table, waiting to find their new home in our new home. But things are starting to feel right. From here, it's just about getting back into the discipline of the work. And I can handle that.

I'm still very excited about what we're planning. In fact, I'm kind of digging the fact we have this new place. We're the first people to live in this apartment, actually. We're the first to call it home. And it has some nice amenities—workout center and pool are kind of a given, but we also get free Starbucks coffee. They had me at "fresh ground." 

I don't have an office anymore. And I don't have my sound booth for recording podcasts. I don't yet have a routine for doing all of the work I do, either. But I do have Kara, and a beautiful home, and what really feels like a fresh start on a new and exciting path. I have no idea what life will be like six months or a year from now, but I know that life right now is refreshing and exciting and full of opportunity. And I know I'm going to write about it. And that makes me very, very happy.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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