May 30, 2016
I have been homeless for over a year, and jobless since January.
I turned 50 in December 2014. Earlier in the year, my friend Jean and I were comparing our bucket lists to see if there was a union of our two sets. Almost all of mine were travel-related, and most involved foreign travel. Jean's list was more varied, and most of her travel-related items were domestic. Patagonia was the one place on both of our lists. Oddly enough, her friend Rick owned a travel company that does small-group adventure tours to Patagonia. We booked a tour in January 2015. Now, truth be told, the trip was a little too expensive for me, but I didn't care: I would make it work - I always did.
Patagonia was great! Jean and I learned some disappointing things about our 50 year-old bodies - we weren't in as good shape as we thought, some of our parts were more worn out than we thought - but I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was an auspicious start to 2015 which quickly turned. That month, my employers received a hostile takeover bid for their company, I picked up my new car, the Boston area began to receive what would amount to 100+ inches of snow that winter, and I garaged the new car for the duration. Between February and March, I listed and sold my condo, I traveled three weeks for work, and I was t-boned in Boston and totaled my old car. I also began negotiations with the buyer of my choice for my employers' company while working with our lawyer to stave off litigation with hostile one. In April, I packed. Surprisingly, it took more than an afternoon. At the end of the month, my furniture went to long-term storage, my personal items to self-storage, my jewelry to a safety deposit box, and the dogs and I moved into a two-star hotel where we would remain for nine months. In May, I had bunion correction surgery, my parents took the dogs for four weeks, and one of my employers swapped cars with my because I couldn't drive my new standard transmission car while wearing a booty. In June, I limped. In July and August, I finalized terms with my buyer of choice and in doing so covered our downside with the hostile party, all while traveling for work. In September, my parents and I went to Europe - our second "Driving Mr. & Mrs. Daisy" tour.
The sale of my employer closed at the end of 2015, and on January 22, 2016, I became unemployed. The dogs and I moved out of the hotel the next day, and other than the two weeks I spent in Italy in April, the dogs and I have been living as the guest of friends (in New York, Ohio and Delaware).
Last Friday, I bought an RV. His name is BOB.
A little over three weeks ago, I drove to Delaware to visit my friends Kim and Kate. The day after I arrived, the three of us went out for breakfast. We passed a local RV dealership en route to diner number two, after giving up trying to find diner number one. The next morning, Kim departed for Philadelphia and I asked Kate if she wanted to go RV shopping with me. Her answer was a resounding, "Yes!"
Part of the fun for Kate was the expectation that the salesman would think that she and I are a couple, and she wanted to go with that. (For the record, Kim is her husband.) While I am not a hair-make-up-shoes-and-jewelry girl, there is nothing masculine about me except my voice (I am often mistaken for a man on the phone). Since I don't like to role-play, I spoiled Kate's fun by mentioning to the salesman that Kate's husband might like to join us for a test drive at a later date.
I told the salesman that I wanted to see the Class C Motorhomes. There are a variety of types of RVs: those you drive (Classes A, B and C), those you hitch (5th-wheelers), those you tow (travel trailers, toy haulers, pop-ups, etc.), and truck campers which mount in the beds of pick-up trucks. A Class A is a bus chassis, a Class B is a van, and a Class C is a van or truck chassis with a box on it. I was attracted to Class Cs because of their size and affordable price points. The Class A is too big and the Class B is too small for me, and my car can't tow anything. Kate and I surveyed BOB, poking and prodding his insides. I exchanged information with the salesman and left thinking it would be more prudent for me to rent an RV in the fall (less expensive than the summer) to see if I liked it. After all, I had never been in an RV other than BOB.
Over the next several days I became increasingly disenchanted with my game plan to spend a month each in Seattle, Portland, Boulder and Austin, euphemistically pounding the streets for a job. AirBnB et al. rentals were proving to be too expensive, and I just couldn't bear the thought of living in two-star hotels (again). I wanted to be somewhere interesting while I was looking for work, and all I really needed was an internet connection. I did the math and discovered that living in BOB would be less expensive than living in a crumby hotel, so I went back the RV dealership to take BOB for a test drive. It was love at first drive. I left the dealership to secure the financing.
USAA turned me down. I've been an insurance customer since 1986, but I have never borrowed from USAA. Apparently, it doesn't matter how much cash you have in your bank account, lenders want hard assets that can be seized and wages than can be garnished . Oh, where were the good old days of the Aughts when banks financed everything for everyone - no documents required? My parents offered to loan me the money to buy BOB. I gratefully declined citing I had the cash. I didn't want to use my cash or my parents', I wanted to use OPM (other people's money). I learned that concept in business school. I also learned how to calculate present value. Two lessons for $75,000 (tuition, room and board for two years). Classes were a dollar a minute, and the school gave us "free" beer on Thursday nights. All-in-all, I think it was a bargain.
My father called USAA. They said they'd finance BOB if he co-signed. Good thing he gets Social Security.
Great new blog! You don't make turning 50 sound relaxing, though!
Just as I get hooked, my teaser sample ends. I want more!
I am totes reading this hearing you speak it! Your tone and inflection! Great blog. I miss ya! We need a dinner out with the gang soon!
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Siobhan M. Knox
In May 2016, I bought a five ton, 25’ long Class C motorhome because I like to drive, I like to travel, and it’s more fun and less expensive than living in a hotel. No prior RV experience was required, and I had none: perfect. I’m writing a book about my adventures which will come to an end when I get a job. The dogs will be sad.