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Today’s ten days since we made the shift into the camper. Day 1 was rough, I gotta say. We had a huge mission to move out of our flat, then we went shopping for the million things we need to outfit our new tiny home on wheels, and then it was getting dark and we hadn’t given any thought to where we’d park on the first night, so we chose a shitty carpark in an industrial part of town. A cold snap rolled in, dropping snow on the hills around us and blowing a gale, and we discovered how draughty this tiny metal box is. Someone nearby blasted dance music until dawn. I had a terrible sleep, cold, anxious, looping round and round in my head: what the fuck have we done? Why the fuck did we give up our big beautiful sunny flat for this!?
Next day, we moved to an agriturismo in the hills overlooking Empoli. Agriturismo is an Italian thing, it’s a farm that’s so cute you want to hang out and have your holiday there. For €20 we got hot showers, electricity and a picture perfect view of the Tuscan countryside. We stayed there through the week, mostly working indoors while the gale blasted continuously outside.
Already by Day 2 I was a lot happier. I slept well, with an electric heater taking the freezing edge off and the wind rocking the camper like a baby’s crib. I remembered again why we’re doing this, why we left the comfort of our flat for life on the road: precisely so I can spend less time living in my comfort zone, adventuring, discovering inspiring places & people.
Now, Day 10, we’ve moved a couple more times. We’re at Lake Trasimeno, after visiting the thermal springs at Saturnia and San Fillipo. We’ve seen spectacular places, but so far my interest has mostly been inwards, adapting to the domestic reality of living in a tiny space. We’ve been improving the camper: insulated the worst of the draughts, found storage containers for most of our stuff, installed more power points for our laptops and better lighting for our Zoom meetings.
I’m learning the space doesn’t tolerate laziness. If you leave one thing lying around, it’s a mess. The smallness forces us to be meticulously mindful. Some days, that’s irritating, I want to roll my eyes and kick the cupboards. But most days, I take it as an invitation to slow down, to do things “the proper way”, to put the laptop charger away immediately after using it. I feel like I’m living in a Japanese tea ceremony, the plastic trash goes *here*, the shoes go *here*, the saucepan goes precisely *here*, nowhere else. Do it now, don’t procrastinate.
I suspect this will be the thing that makes or breaks my happiness in our life on the road. The smallness of our house could be a source of a hundred little papercuts, or it could be a kind of devotion, a choreography, a Zen practice like chopping wood & carrying water. Time will tell.