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Tuesdays with Gooley- Episode 6

18 months in a tin can…a walk down memory lane.

I’m 6’3 and weigh 220#. Big Balls is about the same. Our life is Big. Our farm is big. The furniture is big. Most everything about us is BIG. (Insert easy joke here…) So how did we and the dog (not so big) live in an Airstream trailer for 18 months and live to tell about it? Perhaps another occurrence of divine intervention.

It all started 5 years ago. On a whim, I bought a 1977 Airstream tow behind trailer off Craigslist from a nice elderly lady named Marge in Copperopolis California. She loved it and it showed. She had sewn the curtains herself.  The shag carpet was well maintained and the delightful pull-out dining table still functioned. Overall it was in great shape. She even gave me the melmac plastique dining set. Yippee!  She spent a couple of hours taking me thru and meticulously showing all the nooks and crannies. I paid her, thanked her, drove it home and completely ripped out the inside. Sorry Marge. Goodbye 70’s.

It was a hobby, a whim, a manic episode, a marketing tool for my business, a small step toward off-grid living. That’s it.  IT WAS NEVER intended to be a full time home. It took the better part of 6 months and way more money than I ever imagined pulling it together. I co-opted with a local green design business to help finish it off before showcasing at a Santa Monica Sustainability trade show. It was awesome. People raved and I was proud. Little did I know that was the best it would ever look. Shortly thereafter we bugged out of LA and moved everything to Northern California to look for land. A long and boring story involving a complicated escrow screwed the timeline so we decided to TEMPORARILY find a place to park the airstream…Again Craigslist to the rescue. A nice old farmer had a trailer space on a vineyard near a town called Sebastopol. We jumped on it and the adventure began.

http://www.jetsongreen.com/2009/05/green-renovation-livingreen-airstream-altbuild-2009.html

Sebastopol explained… Hard to…Just imagine where deadheads go to die and lesbians build communes. The “Subaru to human” ratio is shocking. You’ve never seen more gray ponytails in your life. I became ill at the sight of “coexist” bumper stickers. Mind you, I’m liberal and “earthy” by anyone’s standards. In actuality; I’m a mullet, two cats, and a Subaru away from being a lesbian myself.  In Sebastopol, the bar is set higher (or lower depending on your frame of reference). In this strange wonderland I am The Man and must have looked like a Wall Street banker compared the status quo. Grocery co-ops sold hemp ice cream and “hippie chips.” The Radio Shack sold “herbal” vaporizers. The penalties are severe for not recycling. Rumor has it you are held down by a coven of witches and beaten mercilessly with frankincense and myrrh while Joan Baez blares from a Volkswagen Vanagon. Even the bums have a certain character and flavor. I watched one carefully clean arrows one by one and add them into his quiver while his parrot ate carrots. Another has a neon gray ponytail and a chopper bicycle adorned with furs and carpets and a leashed cat named Kato on his shoulder. He plays guitar…badly.

So that’s Sebastopol in a “NUT”shell.

The trailer overlooked acres of pinot noir vines, HUGE old growth redwood forests and apple orchards galore. After living in Mid City Los Angeles it was bliss – salve for our urban wounds and truly one of the most beautiful spots imaginable. We had a blast and counted blessings.  And thus began the disintegration of the precious show piece that was my Airstream… Two big dudes, a dog and a stuffed ape.  Imagine the delight, and aroma. I had trailer scars the whole 18 months from banging my head on the entry door and bathroom door. Mostly I ducked. Often I didn’t. I looked like an MMA fighter with welts and scabs on my head the entire tour of duty.  Showering? I built an outdoor shower at first. It was great in the summer, which lasts about 12 minutes in the redwoods. Mostly it’s cold – all year. The shower inside was, to say the least, small. Big Balls is accustomed to long steamy showers in large marbled bathrooms that end with meticulous grooming while wrapped in embroidered towels. NOT. Showering in the airstream required folding our large frames into a cold chamber praying the water pressure and heat worked.  Wet, lather rinse…no repeat. We begrudgingly adapted to this demeaning routine UNTIL THE BATHROOM PLUMBING BROKE – month three. So, we joined a gym. I got into the best shape of my life because I needed a bathroom and had no excuses once there. Big Balls worked out as well and essentially took over the locker room as his own personal spa. There was an incident. I’m still recovering. He locked his key inside the locker where his clothes were. He showered, wrapped himself in an embroidered towel and casually strutted through the gym where he found me doing squat thrusts. I fell over in shock, got up, and ran over. There was an audience. Big Balls was calm. I was mortified. I helped find a handyman and they retreated to the locker room to break the lock. Problem solved, so I thought. I learned later that the handyman failed so Big Balls once again calmly strutted in his monogrammed towel from the locker room on the third floor down the stairs and through the weight room to the front desk to ask for assistance. Gotta love that man! Nobody else on earth can pull that off.

Back to the trailer. The toilet was also out of commission so we improvised. For 15 months we used an orange home depot 5 gallon bucket that sat atop the broken toilet…amazingly convenient once we got past the shame. We even had nightly volume competitions. The morning ritual involved fertilizing the vineyard with said volume. Beware of the 2010 crop of Sonoma county Pinot Noir, by the way. It may be stellar or tainted depending on this secret ingredient. One night a terrible storm came through and leaked in several places. I woke up at 3am with water dripping on my face. We uprooted and checked into a motel for a couple of days. The water smelled like rotten eggs and even the strongest filter did not work so we imported all of our water. I mastered the art of the hippie shower. Microwavable moist towelettes work in a pinch. It was always a pinch. There was no closet inside so we used our cars as an armoire. We suffered the indignity of washing our clothing at the local Laundromat. Tri-folding tighty whiteys inside a fishbowl window near a yogurt shop creates a strengths of spirit that lingers with me to this day. There was one incident involving a lesbian and my dirty clothes that did not end well. I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

 

Despite all of these obstacles, our bond grew stronger. The sheer magnitude and surrealness of this chapter in our lives makes us giggle to this day. For me this was not a big stretch. I might have stayed longer; For Big Balls, its’ nothing short of a miracle. Not that he did it, but that he enjoyed it and thrived! Every day was filled with laughter.  We were able to see the silliness of it all and played against form to blow people’s minds. For Big Balls, even stepping into a trailer is far out of context. Nobody believed we would make it. Not only did we but it was truly the time of our lives. It was a break from the normal trajectory that typically consumes us.

We cooked extraordinary meals on a hot plate, a two burner bbq, and a toaster oven. We ate outside while listening to our neighbor’s band rehearse  (The Trailer Trashers – not kidding.) Neighbors up the street had a huge party on a random Monday night. I was confused. It turned out to be a “Solstice Celebration” What the???  Even I said “Turn it down hippies!”  We even built a safari tent next to the trailer and filled it with furniture and a king size bed. Our friends Elektra and Pat came and we had a big 4th of July party. 

All good things must come to an end. We landed the farm on the other side of the county and got the heck out! Truthfully, I miss it. Not enough to go back but the memories make me smile and give me warm fuzzies.  Turns out indoor plumbing is more important to me than I ever imagined. The poor trailer needed a break.  It’s still recuperating from 18 months of Dude and Dogfunk as it sits at the storage unit awaiting attention – or perhaps I’ll sell it… Anyone interested??


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15 Responses to "Tuesdays with Gooley- Episode 6"

  1. Brett Minor says:

    I had an apartment like that once. My kitchen is now bigger than that entire place was.

  2. Liese says:

    As a California native I feel comfortable saying that California truly is the land of fruits, flakes, and nuts. This is my favorite Monday night with Gooley. I’m going to dream on patchouli, thank you.

  3. Melissa says:

    We should all be so lucky to have an experience like this….just not for 18 months. I was thinking more like a weekend. :) Keep up the great writing!

  4. joe dee says:

    Great story gooley. reminds me of a much more simple time in my life in which i kept thinking i had to do more, and now i look back and wonder why i ever left it. thx for another great tuesday.

  5. Toby says:

    Sounds like The House.
    (only without someone thrusting Larry through the wall with a motorcycle helmet on.)

  6. Gooley says:

    Ha Liese. The radio shack actually had a sign “no patchouli allowed”
    miss that place.
    Go for it Jode :)
    put Larry n his helmet and move out to the swamps. Make sure to write about it.

  7. Scottie says:

    What an entertaining piece! I do not think I would’ve fared well there because lesbians love me. While I have many lesbian friends, I simply do not swing that way. But northern CA has always tugged at me… maybe I need to take a closer look at the gravity of that matter.

    I think I would have loved the tent. Could I sleep with a gun to ward off the wildlife & critters?

    1. Gooley says:

      Guns abound up here. We keep them out of the house. Big balls has a temper:)

  8. Dan Mcsherry says:

    Orange shitpails,squat thrusts and mullet haired lesbians…You left the dump bucket indoors? Thats my only issue…..

    1. Gooley says:

      No Dan… Saved up for the gym. Home depot bucket was used appropriately. Well, appropriately is questionable.

  9. Love it Jim – thanks for writing these! We can relate to airstream living :)

    Cece

  10. Jim Jenks says:

    These pics bring back memories of when I lived in a really small house and I shared my 10×12 bedroom with two little brothers. Those were tight, but GREAT times. Livin’ my dream.

  11. nicolle says:

    Well well…a smidgeon of Gooliness history. Truly intriguing…do share more… It’s not what I imagined…and I like the mystery. =)

  12. Now that is one pimped out trailer!

  13. traci amberbride says:

    I just thought I would throw out that if a coven of witches were gonna come after you…they wouldn’t actually have to hold you down with their hands…just sayin. =)

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