When you live in a 20′ Airstream, there must be, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Googling this phrase finds this explanation:
“The idiom is defined as a phrase that dates at least from the 17th century, and would seem to be dedicated to the obsessive-compulsives (O-C) in society. It’s closely akin to another phrase, “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” That is, put your stuff away where it belongs, and make sure you bathe!
Okay, neither O-C or Godliness is in my nature. I do however enjoy a good hot shower, so modern-day campgrounds with showers are a necessity in my lifestyle. I do not dry camp.
In 2001, I lived in a one-bedroom walk-up apartment 4 blocks from the U.S. Capitol. My friends Carrie and Matt around the corner gave me a key so I could borrow dog Lilly for my morning walks on the National Mall (before I got Maggie, a dog of my own).
In 2009, I decided to become an adult and bought a 3-story row house, and filled it with stuff. Seven years later, I realized that “stuff” did not make me happy, and I spent most of my time in 2 rooms, the kitchen or bedroom. Why did I need all that unused space? We Americans love huge houses.
In China, entire families live 2 rooms.
My sister Robin, had a studio apartment on the upper west side of NYC, her neighborhoods lived in the same space with kids and a dog!
Those of us fortunate enough to travel aboard, including to “shit-hole” countries, can only appreciate how incredibly privileged we are to live in the United States, the most amazing country on the globe.
I love the diversity of the United States. When I traveled to Asia in 1985, what struck me most was the lack of diversity. The majority of the population was under 5’5” tall and had dark hair and the same eye color. It never occurred to me how we take diversity for granted. Visit any shopping mall and just look at the hair color, not to mention sizes, shapes and heights! In Asia, all hair color is black, heights are about 5’5”. Of course now that we have exported McDonald’s, Asian are getting fat.
I stuck out – I was tall, 5’9” and blonde. My traveling companion, cousin Karen has dark hair and blended in. Karen would say to me, “Alison, you are drawing a crowd”. I would turn around and there would be a crowd of Chinese people staring at me. They would ask politely if they could practice their English. One woman told me she felt sorry for me because I lived alone. She said she would not like to live alone, when she married she would move in with her husband’s family.
Traveling in Asia taught me a valuable lesson of humility and gratitude. How incredibly fortunate we are, to have been born in the United States of America, because we are a nation of immigrants and embrace diversity. At least we use too.
“Go shopping”, is what President George W Bush told us to do after 9/11. When I decided to leave Washington, D.C. and get rid of my “stuff”, I realized how much money I wasted shopping, and buying stuff. I wish I had bought Nordstrom stock, instead of shoes and clothes.
So here I am, trying to become more obsessive compulsive. Putting everything away “in its place”, not leaving dishes in the sink, etc. RULE #1: When you buy something, something else needs to go!
RULE #2: Ask yourself, do I really need that? Probably NAUGHT.
What if we stopped shopping! The U.S. economy would of course collapse, and we would have little to do on the weekends, but we might need fewer land-fills or the need to ship our unwanted “stuff” to China. They don’t want it anymore, either.
Groceries, gas, green and camping fees. It is a liberating and full-filling life, with less stuff.
Today, we are off to Key Largo today, for sun and sand.