Dispatch No. 1 or How We Got Here

I’m breaking a bottle of bubbly (Baby Duck, naturally) over the spare tire of the RV to mark this, the inaugural dispatch from the Gypsy Roller. As I mentioned here, this blog is principally a way of cataloguing my vegetarian recipes (and who knows, maybe getting other people to try making them too), but first, just a little more about how we ended up here in the trailer park.

I’m a new resident of Lake Country, British Columbia, having moved here late last month with my boyfriend, Mike, and our 9 month old son, Hunter. For a long while I was a rather rabid enthusiastic adherent to the idea that one absolutely MUST live in a larger city in order to have access to “all the good things” (i.e. a diverse and multicultural array of places to eat; bookstores other than the Big Box one; galleries and other such artsy fartsy-ness; good architecture; shops that carry the designers whose clothes I follow on the fashion blogs, so I could at least look at and touch said clothes if not afford to buy them; EXCELLENT coffee, without which I hardly have the will to live (yes, I’m prone to melodrama where caffeine is concerned)… all within walking distance of where I live, thanks). Then last year I got pregnant, and all of a sudden my narrow little worldview, if you can call it that, imploded, just as everyone said it would. Our one bedroom condo in Gastown, already too small for two people (at least when one of them has an affinity for records, books, clothes, shoes and all manner of mid-century tsotchke) came to feel like a microcosm of Toys R Us crossed with an episode of Hoarders once Hunter and his attendant baby apparatuses were added to the mix. Now maneuvering an SUV-style stroller (precisely the kind I used to observe on the streets with the utmost horror and scorn) , I was preoccupied by the density of people in the downtown core – and dodging said people’s cigarette and crack smoke – and less apt to care about the things that purportedly meant so much to me pre-Hunter (excellent coffee notwithstanding, of course). This isn’t to say I started envisioning us fleeing to a gated community in the suburbs, where urban blight dare not tread; basically we needed more space to put our stuff and wanted to live around fewer people. If that meant there not being 500 artisanal sandwich shops within a kilometre of where I live, I’d be OK with that.

Around the time Hunter was born Mike was becoming increasingly bummed out with his job in Vancouver. He builds power lines, and while he enjoys the technical side of the work he’d long been frustrated with some of its more political aspects. Feeling the same way as me about our cramped living conditions, he decided to look into the feasibility of transferring to the Okanagan (located in the Interior of British Columbia), an area he’s always liked and wanted to live in. There we’d be able to buy or build a house on a decent-sized piece of property – something that wasn’t going to happen in Vancouver, where the average cost of a home is over a million bucks. It took a couple months but eventually he secured a lineman position there, and a few weeks later was scheduled to start his new job. A few weeks would probably be enough time to pack up all our stuff and get it out of the condo, but finding a piece of property and building a house in that time frame would be a total impossibility, needless to say. It was at that point that Mike proposed we get an RV to stay in while we looked for a permanent place to live. Uh… what? I don’t think of myself as particularly high-maintenace, but at the outset Mike’s suggestion struck me as an complete affront to… I don’t know, everything reasonable and just? How was I supposed to care for an hapless INFANT whilst shacked up in a portable oblong box? Is there even a bathroom and kitchen in there? Where would I store my wardrobe (OK, maybe that’s a little high-maintence)? Is this what I would turn into?

After a few days and a series of focussed breathing exercises to restore my nerves, I became slightly more receptive to the RV idea. As Mike pointed out, financing an RV to live in would be far cheaper in the interim, at least when compared to renting an apartment or a house. Also (he kept at it), we’d be putting money toward something which would eventually be ours – and just think of all the places we could go with an RV! – while paying rent is essentially cash down the drain. I couldn’t really disagree with these arguments, and while I still wasn’t 100 percent on board, finally I acquiesced, mostly out of necessity, as we had to be out of our Vancouver condo by the end of the month. A couple days later we were at the mercy of a salesman (with, I must say, an impressively devout knowledge of his product) at the RV lot. I won’t get into the finer points of purchasing an RV, but will say it’s quite drawn out and involves a harrowing 4-hour training session which covers such topics as how to monitor and empty the “grey water tank” and the even more ominous and puke-inducing “black water tank,” among others. So now we were equipped with an RV and a little know-how. Still, I couldn’t quite shake the idea that life on a trailer park would essentially be one of spending my days lying prone on the RV’s brown (of all colour schemes, why, WHY brown?) upholstered couch, draped in a caftan and clutching a tepid rum and coke, while Hunter tinkers with a pellet gun at my feet. The extent to which this statement is true remains to be seen, as we’ve only been living here a few weeks. But I suppose it bodes well that so far I’ve managed to stay off the couch for the most part, and have limited my alcohol intake to the odd glass of Okanagan Pinot Noir. And Hunter as yet prefers rides in his Radio Flyer wagon to weaponry of any description.

Anyhow, that’s basically the story of how we ended up here. So bring on the food, right? My recipes are all vegan or vegetarian but I do my best to make them as flavourful and substantial as possible so as to disprove and possibly even confound those who still equate meatless cuisine with pallid, self-righteous waifs hunched listlessly over bowls stacked high with iceberg lettuce. Plus, my man is a meat eater. As in, his favourite meal is a thing called a Beef Dip. I figure that if I’m going to impose my vegetarian will on him I best do so in the least traumatizing way possible. So although I keep the bad fats to a minimum, and incorporate ingredients (i.e. vegetables) which he previously considered strange or even gross, typically he doesn’t miss the meat in my cooking. Or so he tells me. He’d better tell me! Haha. I hope you don’t miss it either.

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