A Hard Way to Go
By Rima Austin
Over the weekend I met some people living off-grid in much the same way I am. They came from Massachusetts to relocate in the foothills of Tennessee. Like me they were looking for a simpler life and to cut costs and ties with the rat race. This was a husband and wife with three young children living in a camper that had been given to them. As I was talking to the wife, I got the sense that, at times, it was more than she could bear.
She told me how they had both come from difficult divorces that left both their credit scores in shambles, but they knew they wanted to get out of the north, to a place where living restrictions were minimal. They found a company online that was selling land for a small down payment and low monthly payments with no credit check. They jumped on it. The land they purchased was un-cleared forest land. They arrived with their children, a vehicle and a U-Haul.
The first few weeks were spent in a tent and as they walked around on all the land surrounding them they came across a fifth wheel that had been abandoned. She told me it had no floor and was basically gutted and in very bad shape. They called the company they bought the land from and asked what they planned to do with the trailer, and the company said that if they could move it they could have it. They managed to get it to their property and instantly went to work making it livable.
As she was telling me this, I thought to myself how that was exactly what our kind of people do. We are foragers, dumpster divers, but above all, incredibly creative. We would have to be to be able to turn someone else’s garbage into something we can use in order to advance our way of living. I saw the frustration in her expression while she was telling me this though. It wasn’t the proud look I have when telling someone about a good find, it was almost like she thought they were alone in this and that thought was making her sad.
After she finished the story about the trailer I praised her, and it was an honest praise, because really I wish I had gotten that lucky, and I told her so. She smiled. I then told her how I live, although I must admit, sometimes I am lazy and use the accommodations of my family, and I told her this as well. Sometimes it is just easier for me and I chalk that up to being lazy. After the trailer conversation she seemed to become more at ease and she began asking me about how I do things such as take baths or showers. I told her that I have a solar shower that works perfectly, but I choose to take showers at a family member’s home because it is just easier. I said I need to get back to doing it the way I intended when I first started this journey.
Sometimes, when we are on our own living off the grid, it seems like we are the only ones doing it and it becomes lonely. It reminds me of the old Looney Tunes cartoon where there was an old house in the middle of nowhere, and the film begins to show progress growing up around the house such as interstates and cars coming and going, and yet the house remains, old and still. I am that house.
When I got home, I dusted off my solar shower, gathered up all my toiletries and created a temporary shower station. I plan on building a more permanent one when I have time, most likely this weekend. I also plan on going back to being completely off grid and doing things at my house the way it should be done, without the luxuries of other people’s accommodations.
I was becoming lazy, complacent. When one is by themselves it is easy to do. After meeting my friend it helped light that fire again. I was reminded that I was not the only one who chooses to live this way. That’s just it too, it is not that I am forced to do this, it is a choice. So if you are reading this and you sometimes feel that you are alone in your quest, we may never meet but please know, there are more of us out here than you know. You are not alone. Keep living the dream.
Rima’s shower probably doesn’t look like this one, but she undoubtedly has another spectacular view. Photo: iStock/KonArt
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