As a young couple - long before the boys - one of the first things we bought together was a beat up old RV to spend our summers living in. A 1974 Ford Mike scored for $500 bucks, gutted, sprayed turquoise and white in a makeshift spray booth at his parents house, lined with wood and thatching and the floor with green turf complete with a golf putting hole. It was kitschy, cozy, and undeniably fun. The ideal boon for a group of twenty something surfers with meaningless jobs to hole up in, get drunk and hang around in all season long.
Ultimately it became kind of a defining space for that period in our lives, attached to so many cherished memories from carefree days where time seemed to stretch out, unroll, and linger a lot longer than it would ever again. We drove it to friend's weddings, deep into remote surf spots in Mexico, and all the way up the coast, even when the mechanics of it seemed downright shaky to fully depend on. Back then though we had nowhere to be, no one to feed, and very little concern other than where we were headed next, and what was planned for dinner that night.
Somewhere along the way it broke down and ended up rusting atop a friend's home for a few years when we let it go.
After Leon was born however we realized how much we missed having this as a weekend escape. With two little ones an all day beach trip is always verging on "overwhelming" simply due to the fact of having no shade break or place to nap when naps suddenly become detrimental to your lifestyle. So once again Mike found another, slightly bigger RV, for $500. Formally owned by my friend's grandparents and chalk full of decades worth of family memories before us.
The renovation this time around went pretty much the same. Unstressed and under budget. Eight years ago there wasn't much social media to use or compare by way of inspiration, so we basically pulled together things we liked and could afford, and didn't second guess a single one of them. Sometimes I miss that kind of freedom. Because I think had we started it today it might look a whole lot different. More polished, on "trend," carefully curated, and likely sparse by design. It's just the the nature of the beast now days with so many ideals out there to echo. And yet the fact that it is such a unique and unthought space, filled with so many personal touches makes me love it that much more. Surrounded by corners that reflect our love of the sea, shark teeth hung above the stove, rusted hooks in the bathroom crowded with various sized wet suits, sand packed seat cushions, sun flaked stickers on the windows that tell stories all their own. Worn denim textiles covering specific points of wear. Brown shredding curtains bleached from years of brutal sun light. Hand painted art by friends, and a treasured (original) Dylan poster Mike bought me on my 24th birthday way back when, now faded and sun tinged like everything else inside.
The hard wood floors we used out of convenience, left over from a family's home remodel. And of course loads of bamboo, wood planks, outdoor materiel for seating, sea green paint on the exterior, and a thatched roofing that seemed the perfect touch considering Mike's natural tendency towards anything obscenely "Hawaiian." Along with the wood carved Tikis I resisted in the beginning but eventually came to adore too because they seemed to possess the same quirky, humble vibe the rest of interior embraced wholeheartedly.
Through the years it's become a second home to us. Even when so many of the other old cars and buses and trailers were traded or sold, this one remained a permanent fixture in our lives. Where a gleaming portion of their childhood will be forever secured in the memories born in this space.
Where we come to soak up our time together in bare limbs and bare feet, keeping time with the ocean's tide.
A place where I don't feel pressured to over think or over stock anything. Our meals we try to keep as simple as possible, fresh fruit, sandwiches, cheese and meat. And our entertainment is usually just what surrounds us. Bamboo huts and sand banks for jumping. We do pack some basic sand toys, a rubber ball to support their current obsession with flipping, sometimes art tools, and always: music, beer, blankets and friends. Of all the places I've been, in all my years before and after children, there's nothing that seems to fulfill me the same way this old RV parked on our favorite beach does.
Which is to say - as cliche as a now beaten sentiment can sound these days - simple pleasures aren't ever to be overlooked. Even with a big family. Even when it's an afternoon outing as opposed to a week long get away. Money doesn't build memories and exotic vacations don't outweigh the easy good times. Kids don't care if they're wearing designer clothes, or riding around in luxury cars, or resting on name brand furniture, or atop fancy foreign shores. Sometimes it's the plain fact of warm sunshine and ready affection that's all any one of even need. And it's something that's as easy to remember as it is to forget.
Labels: the art of personal style