On April 17, 2011, I stood in the gravel road watching a very nice couple back this 2008 Jayco Jayflight G2 into my space at the park. They were kind enough to hook everything up, level the unit (snicker), and make sure I was all set before they left. After they pulled away, I started loading my gear. I’d packed up earlier, and had unloaded several cars full of “stuff” in the side yard, ready to move in. Daphne was at my parents’. I put up all of the storage stuff, hung up her clothes and mine, made our beds, and got ready to live life in 300 square feet. I didn’t have a timeline. I didn’t know what the plan was beyond that day, beyond having someplace safe and sane. I had no idea. But I had hope.

Over the next week, weeks, and months, we had some of the most consistently bad weather this area has seen in years. Friends’ had windows blown out of their wall mounts. There were tornadoes. There was rain. There was hail. Multiple occasions of hail. Once, we evacuated to the clubhouse bathroom, but that was mostly because my niece was over and I am always safer with other people’s kids than mine. Another time, we happened to be at a friend’s house when the hail that dented the north side of the trailer did its best.

Through all of that, though, we remained dry and safe and at peace. And that was all I was really going for.

A year ago, I was studying medical transcription. Over the next two months, I would test for numerous companies, frustrated by the slow going, poor recordings, and distractions of having a very conversational child who didn’t appreciate the “time is money” concept or that being distracted took my head out of the game completely, so that I’d often have to start over. I started applying for jobs with at-home-call-center providers, I was doing odd jobs for friends, and I was watching my savings slowly dwindle, picking up as many mystery shops as I could.

If you had told me then that, within the year, I would have begun working outside of the home, in an office, and even have my insurance license, there is very little way that I would have believed it. How can that happen when you homeschool? How can that happen when you’re not even willing to work 40 hours a week? How can that happen when your brain is a magnet for all things artistic and unimportant and a holey grocery sack for numbers and business principles?

The past year has been a roller coaster of surprises, disappointments, blessing,¬†devastation, enlightenment, humbling, exhilaration, and craziness. I have loved everything I thought I would love about living in an RV: little maintenance, no yard work, simple lifestyle, inability to accumulate too much. I didn’t think much about the kind of neighbors I would have, but they have turned out to be the greatest. As a whole, this is a very quiet community. There is no drama, there is no crime. The ambiance is laid-back and comfortable. Everyone has the vacation mentality, and that is always fun. I have learned how to keep us cool enough during the summer, warm enough during the winter, and how to bake properly in a tiny propane box.

Since this time last year I could in no way have imagined where I’d be now, it’s foolish to try to predict what life will look like a year from now. However, I hope it’s fundamentally different. Don’t get me wrong: I am blessed beyond what I deserve, and I do struggle with reconciling that to the several “hitches” that won’t loose. And it’s that struggle of which I’d like to be free this time next year. There are elements of my life that I can’t change. The two biggest (and second and third most important facets of my life) are inextricably intertwined. One can’t change until the first does, and the first shows no signs of changing. So by this time next year, I pray that either those things will have miraculously begun to resolve, or that I will have found the strength to move beyond them. Whether that takes the form of physical moving (I have my eye on both the Pecan Grove RV Park in Austin – in which I’m primarily interested because it’s downtown and impossible to get into – and the RV Park in Van Buren, AR that I’ve just wasted 20 minutes trying to re-find on my computer) or allowing God to cut out parts of me I felt he planted in me before I was born or just learning to stop straining against the bonds and finding a way to work within them, I don’t know.

Daphne doesn’t want to move. She doesn’t want to leave where we live, or where she goes to the gym, or where we go to church, or her friends she has now. One of my friends reminded me that she’s along for the ride until she’s 18 and that I have to do what is best for us as a family, regardless of what decisions make her “happy” at the moment. Thing is, I’m not entirely certain that I’m qualified to make that judgment call right now. Hopefully, a year from today, I will be.

One year's worth of momentos. There have actually been more added since I took this picture...