I was beyond excited when Alyssa agreed to write a blog post for the “Perspectives” series. We met a while back when we were both campers at a church camp, the summer after our Senior year of high school. Her life is full of such riches, and she has graciously shared some of them in this post. I hope you enjoy her writing as much as I do. Enjoy!
As I sit here trying to come up with a semi-accurate depiction of my true feelings towards my last year and a half living in a 1976 airstream, I am realizing that there is a reason why the backspace key is getting the most contact at the moment. There is no clear answer when someone walks up to you and says, “so how is it living in a camper?” Do I respond by baring my little hippie heart in how adventurous and wild and freeing it has been, or do I make a passive-aggressive comment to the fact that I broke my husband’s drawer yesterday simply by putting clothes away? Because, truthfully, both responses would be completely accurate. And it really depends less on how the camper is functioning at that particular moment and more on what kind of day I am having.
I would be lying if I told you that the new hasn’t worn off and we are just as enamored with this unconventional little life we have created for ourselves since the day we laid eyes on Juniper (our name for the airstream). But I would also be lying if I told you we had any regrets with our decision. As young, start-up artists, my husband and I made a vow to not be swayed by large salaries and material possessions, and instead do what it took to pursue our passions and invest in our marriage. For us, that meant simplifying as much as possible. It meant sacrificing certain luxuries like walk-in showers, big screen TVs, dish washers and full sized appliances (yes, I said luxuries).
Some days, I sit on the steps of the airstream, overlooking endless fields kissing the horizon and don’t think it would be possible to be any more content with my life and the season I am in. Other days, I sit at the kitchen table, watching the a.c unit drip like clockwork, clanking off the corning ware placed strategically on the floor and dream of what it would be like to live in a house with privacy and a large kitchen and a claw tub. But then I am reminded of how much Juniper has taught me…has taught us…and I cannot help but be immensely grateful for this precious season of life that so few will ever experience. I’m learning how little material is really required to satisfy the human soul— that the fabrics of our safety blankets are not stitched by the threads of status and location but by laughter and tears and a love that sustains many years of hardship and drought.
If you look closely, beyond the broken parts and peeling wall paper, you will begin to see the things that have made this place a home. On the round kitchen table sits a mason jar with fresh flowers Matt picks out for me every time we go to Trader Joe’s. An old, heirloom quilt wraps the bed, replacing the winter comforter—the same bed Matt and I have had many ice cream and movie dates and breakfast dinners on. And above that bed sits a window that faces the sunset, so I never have to miss it.
So, I’ll take the funny smells, tiny appliances, annoying drips, broken drawers, and all the quirks that come with living this life I live, because when weighed against the memories made in this place and the lessons learned, those little quirks don’t hold a candle.
I suppose this post isn’t really about living in an airstream. Rather, it’s about coming to the realization that when it comes down to it, and the measuring cup of materialism reads nearly empty, joy can still exist. Contentment, satisfaction and beauty can all be found in a mansion or even a 24 foot travel trailer. And perhaps this long, tireless search for adventure and wonder and future horizons is right here, right now in this very moment.
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”-Dale Carnegie
Alyssa Bell is a wife, friend, and artist who lives her life in an Airstream trailer named Juniper. She is a wiz at photography and videography as seen on her blog . (Check it out!). Her and her husband Matt, along with their friend Jarod, are the creators of a documentary of their life on wheels called, The Unified Revival Tour. Alyssa is a true adventurer and lover of people in so many unimaginable ways!