E S S A Y We bought a camper
After my mother, aunt and uncle died last winter, my partner and I bought a camper. In death’s midst, feeling our own galloping years, we envisioned a lifeline to better times. Simple travel. Pretty vistas. Minimalist living.
Snow was falling when my partner scrolled through Craigslist posts. “Look at this,” he said, spying a sleek A-frame pop-up. “Isn’t this the cutest? Wouldn’t it be perfect for us?”
“Fun!” I murmured, expecting nothing. After all, we were lapsed tenters who’d talked for years about upgrading to a camper with real walls, a raised bed and a kitchenette.
But two days later, we rocketed ninety miles along the highway to the seller’s home. He was an engineer who got the vehicle used but didn’t use it. The wife wanted it gone.
We trudged through their icy yard. This really was the cutest camper. Though two decades old, it had good bones; the perfect fixer-upper.
The engineer had us at “Come inside; the heater works great.”
Two weeks later, we parked the pop-up on our front lawn beneath a giant maple, and Partner promptly got to work on it.
He painted and scrubbed. Made curtains. Refitted a cabinet and fixed floorboards. Every last screw, bolt, thread and pipe was soon in pristine order.
He worked while his 100-year-old dad was dying, finding solace in in the shade of the giant maple, where ferns grew as high as the hitch on our compact SUV. I offered encouragement and minty iced beverages.
The neighbors came calling. The crusty old widower reminisced about his family’s camping days. The stick-to-herself teacher behind our hedgerow stuck her head in and confided envy. Even the nurse I rarely saw anymore had an acute case of curiosity and texted, “Where r u going?”
My artist neighbor, a world-class brooder, climbed in one evening to wax poetic about the creative life. When he left, his step seemed lighter, and his brow, less furrowed.
Sometimes I nap in the camper, my eyes fluttering closed as breezes blow through the windows. Or I write. Partner reads the paper, or chats on the phone to his son or sister.
We’ve yet to take our maiden voyage, but on sultry summer mornings, Partner and I like to sit on the comfy couch cushions, drink coffee and dream about all the places we’ll go someday. I’m along for the ride, even if it’s stationery.
Tina Lincer is a writer, artist and recovering tenter who’s looking forward to her first trip in the world’s cutest camper.