In January 2016, my husband and I left our jobs, sold our belongings and said goodbye to our cute craftsmen rental house to live on the road in a remodeled vintage trailer, with our two cats. I sum that up into one sentence, but we prepared for a year.
We had very specific intentions:
- Make good memories together
- Experience something completely new together
- Collect stories and learn from them.
We interviewed married couples all around the country, who we knew, to hear their authentic marriage journey.
We were craving joy like one would crave Vitamin D during the middle of winter. The trip was called Joyward, like moving forward but with joy. We were able to document the trip in a short film, starting on January 5 when we left our home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a four and a half month journey.
Welcome to our life on the road.
It wouldn’t stop raining. The windows were leaking inside our trailer during the day and cold temperatures at night would cause it to freeze, creating a pattern of soggy curtains, pillows and bedding.
Picture a 13’ soda can with wheels, because that’s essentially what our ‘67 vintage remodeled trailer is. With one cat on the dash, one under the seat, podcast on and dark chocolate pretzels in hand, this was how we frequently conquered long drives.
While the Texas plains flew by in my window, so did my thoughts. Thoughts about my purpose, what I can’t control, writing a second book, what the heck are we doing, the people I love and the many ways life plays out. I thought about how this whole thing is just so darn unpredictable, not just living small and traveling across the country, but our existence too.
That’s the beauty of it though, right? Sometimes. Sometimes, the surprises bring us joy, and other times, they bring us grief. What do we do with that?
Sometimes, the surprises bring us joy, and other times, they bring us grief.
While hopping around from state to state over the course of almost five months, we got small glimpses into a variety of lives. One week we were at a wedding, the next celebrating with friends as they shared with us their first ultrasound photo and then another week we were at the funeral of a close family friend.
So much life.
After each bittersweet departure, I slowly came to realize that every city is the same. Whether it’s a town of 3,000 or a city of 300,000. Look past the skylines, coffee shops, diners, museums or schools. At the end of the day, it’s a place where individuals call home and where they experience all that life unpredictably throws their way.
Just like you and me. We don’t know each other, but I guarantee that you’ve made plans in the past and then something “altered” the course. It could have been a plan to get your degree in teaching but you end up being a full-time mom. It could have been something simple like you planned on going for a hike but a rainstorm came through. It could have been that you planned your future with someone but it got called off.
Can you relate?
What Joyward was trying to teach us all along was that the things we don’t plan for turn out to be the things that have the most potential to shape us. Keyword: “potential,” because it’s a choice.
The things we don’t plan for turn out to be the things that have the most potential to shape us.
The rain storms became few and far between during the second half of the trip, and the sun decided to come out and play. It brought us an immense amount of joy. It gave our drenched, worn-out trailer a break.
Maybe it was the sun. Maybe it was acceptance, not just about living small and traveling across the country, but about our existence too.
How has travel helped you discover more about yourself and life? How can travel become an opportunity for self-reflection?
Images via Ceci Frost