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"The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
-Satan, via Milton, in "Paradise Lost"
Take it from me. In many ways, full-timing in an RV is Life on a Short Leash.
It is true that I have evaded the dubious claims of a particular city, and a particular house, and even a particular yard as meticulously maintained and nondescript as my neighbor's. Instead I spend that time, every few days, searching for campgrounds, dump stations, and drinking water. Even electricity, God help us. Rvs can cost like houses, but they wear like cars. They fall apart. Then you have to buy another one.
Life on a short leash.
Oh, there is luxury in being able to decide exactly where I will spend my time. Leisure feels like wealth to all but the desperately poor. I started this enterprise with that in the back of my mind. Saunter round the country, keeping an eye out for the perfect retirement place. Then I discovered there was even more luxury in not having to decide. And it is a curious thing that I often feel most settled when I am rambling.
Imagine my surprise, then, to find that I get tired of it.
After about 7 or 8 months of rambling, I want to sit and read. I want to eat familiar meals in familiar restaurants, have people recognize me at the grocery and the book store, make plans to attend concerts months in advance. I want to see my relatives and friends. Repair the frayed ends of relationships.
I want to be home.
Before I retired, I thought I was utterly bored with Georgetown. After all, I grew up here, and moved back for "good" in 1983 to raise a couple of boys as best I could, given that I was an amateur.
Surely there was some place more interesting than this. I consulted a Yahoo program that asked a bunch of questions about what I was looking for: proximity to a university library, lots of sunshine, near a good sized city, live music, reasonable taxes, good health care, a lake or two, etc., on and on and on. I completed the whole thing. And guess what city turned up on the first search page? Georgetown, Texas. Arrrgh.
So I emptied the house and went off gallivanting purely out of spite. If you are reading this you probably know about most of it. It's been great fun. But no place ever showed up that I wanted to live in ALL THE TIME. I always came back to central Texas for the winter.
I find that snow, in particular, is an over-rated attraction.
And then there is the economic argument. You see, I've always been such a cheap bastard there's little possible action likely to improve the situation elsewhere. I made efficient choices decades ago. In effect, I have outsmarted myself.
For instance, in many parts of the country right now, people can make large improvements in their standard of living by selling their impossibly expensive homes and escaping to more reasonable areas. Not me. The average increase in housing costs around here have been right about the inflation rate for lo these many years. Currently about 2.5%. I have a comfortable house that's only 10 grand from being paid for. Can't get ahead by moving.
Here at home I can walk to concerts, and read a variety of books, magazines, and papers gratis at Southwestern University, just down the street. I am a persistent dour presence at the Library, rattling around like the ghost of Jacob Marley. Now and then I startle a covey of coeds. They tend to rise up, flustered to no real purpose, like quail out of season.
By living 30 miles outside of metropolitan Austin, where the action ain't, I save a bunch on car and house insurance. Taxes too. I get my TV off the antenna, and take in bargain matinee movies in the afternoons. I find my clothes and wine and beer and gas and steaks at Sam's Club. I have both the local classical stations on speed dial, and sometimes pick up free concert tickets that way. All these stratagems are habitual with me. So I can't look forward to much savings from a "reduced" lifestyle.
I am already reductio ad absurdum.
So, unless something uncanny happens, I guess I'm going to have to surrender to the inevitability of being happy with my lot. Darn it.
Next fall I'll move back into the house, and spend some bucks fixing it up. And from now on out I'll try to make the most of only traveling to other places at those times when they are at their best. Maybe 7 months away, 5 back in Texas. Just like I've been doing.
Shall I travel? Shall I sit? Shall I eat a peach? The immoderately moderate response is to embrace each in its season. And immoderately moderate, alas, is just what I yam.
It's a tough life. But somebody has to live it.
This year I'm off to Alaska, simply because it's there. Read along if you want. I'll be writing home.
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