The Surprise of Right Angles

I’m typing this in Finn’s vacation condo on South Padre Island. If you need to catch up here: My son Finn rented a couple of condos back to back for his big break from school, both on the island near where I’m spending the winter in Brownsville, Texas. The first one had only one bedroom, so I stayed over for only a couple of nights (eww inflatable mattress), but this place he’s in now has two bedrooms, so I’ve moved in for a few days.

This was the plan when he and I were scheming together a few months ago, that we’d go in on a place at the beach so he could get away from Michigan in the winter and I could get away from the trailer for a bit, and bonus: we could spend time together. My knee surgery got in the way though, so it’s only now in his last few days on the island that I’m getting to really spend time with him.

I’ve blogged so many times about how much I love spending time with this amazing young man, so I’ll leave that topic behind for a bit.

What’s struck me as I’ve been settling in to this condo, though, is how different being in a building is from being in the Airstream.

So, we moved into the Airstream in March 2020, which is nearly four years ago. Since then, the nights I’ve spent away from the trailer I can count on two hands, maybe three? There was the time we had the solar system installed in the trailer, so we stayed in an AIrBnB in Naples—that turned out to be a trailer in the same trailer park we’d just moved out of! I’m still in awe of my idiocy renting that place. Of course, just a week ago we stayed in an AirBnB for surgery. And I’ve had a night here and there staying with friends. But I’d say out of maybe 1,400 nights, I’ve spent 1,390 in the trailer.

My point is that a sticks-and-bricks place is a real shocker. And not in the ways you might expect.

The Inside/Outside Membrane

The first thing I did when I walked into Finn’s place is ask him if it was okay to open the windows. Let in light. Let in air.


This condo has plenty of both, with high ceilings and a sliding glass door and ceiling fan, yadda yadda. But it still feels indoors.

Whereas, on its best days, being inside the trailer does not, somehow. Maybe it’s the wrap-around windows all over, or the skylights, or the aluminum walls and ceiling.

Or maybe it’s that our lifestyle in the trailer means mostly living outside. I know this doesn’t seem to be the case based on my complaining posts about the last few weeks of Alaska where it was so wet and cold and we were stuck inside, or this last month with my ACL injury and surgery. Heck, the case is that I’m inside when I blog, so it might seem to you like I’m inside a lot, but I do actually live for the most part outside.

Okay, I could go on an on about this topic of living outside, especially the therapeutic effects I’ve heard from friends with much smaller camping homes who do truly live outside. Suffice it to say, for this post, that the minute I walked into this condo, I realized, “I am inside a building, and I’m not fond of that.”


I’m still wearing that beast of a leg immobilizer, that’s just like having a toddler attached to your leg while you’re trying to cook dinner. (Heavy, awkward, both sturdy and delicate at the same time.) I’m supposed to be wearing this sucker when I walk, but when I’m sitting I can take it off.

Turns out I haven’t been walking hardly at all because I’ve been in the trailer, and I didn’t realize that was even the case until I started walking around Finn’s condo. (Maybe that’s why my recovery has been so strong.) Seriously, in the trailer I’ve been living on the sofa, putting the brace on to walk the few feet to the bathroom and back, and occasionally outside to the camping sofa in the sunshine. That’s it.

Okay, I know this is a shocker, but in a house, you have to walk to the kitchen! It’s not one foot from the sofa! And there’s a bedroom, and a living room, and a patio, and basically an entire world you walk around in!

The first time we stayed in a house, I felt like stretching my arms out and twirling around. So much room! Here, it’s more like, “Hmmm, I have to put the Beast Brace on to walk to the kitchen, so maybe I won’t.”

Another shocker was when I put away the few clothes I’d brought. I have a dresser here, which means I can fold my clothes in squares instead of rolling them and wading them up and shoving them into my small spaces in the Airstream.

These are old photos (and man do they make me realize how little stuff I started out with, and how much I need to pare down again). But this is my clothes storage in the closet beside my bed.

I do have drawers Tracy installed under the bed, where I store lighter pants and skirts and t-shirts. I have to say again, My god how few clothes I started out with. I won’t even show you what this looks like now. Bulging, let’s say.

Here in the condo, I unwadded my clothes and folded them and placed them in the dresser. In fact, I’ve done so multiple times for the sheer joy of it!

So, I do miss my aluminum home, with its curves and windows and role as a minimal membrane to the outside. Taking this break with Finn is all about time with him, it turns out. And once I’ve done that as much as I can, I’m hankering to get back so I can pare down all my possessions again and get back to what those old photos look like!

Edited to add: I moved outside after I wrote that post.

15 thoughts to “The Surprise of Right Angles”

  1. I think I could fill your Airstream top to bottom with just my clothes alone… as much as I like the idea of minimalist living, I know I could never do it. Glad you’re able to spend quality time with your son. Even with real walls that’s got to feel good.

  2. I am a light, air, and space gal, so I FEEL THIS TO MY CORE. I open my windows every day, even in the winter.
    I’m so glad you’re spending time with Finn and getting space to stretch your legs out. Do they want you to walk every day?

    1. I had this same conversation on Facebook with someone who responded just like you. It’s wild how some people love having the feel of the outside while others want to have nothing to do with it! Glad to meet more of my kind. 🙂
      And I have exercises I do pretty much all danged day long, but I’m still walking with the brace locked straight, which is really difficult. Looking forward to chucking that sucker.

        1. Man, that sounds rougher than what I’m going through. Thanks for the encouragement! I just heard I can work toward losing the brace by March 1. Whew.

  3. I totally see how the condo feels like being inside and your Airstream is the opposite. I once lived in a townhouse that had virtually no outdoor light coming in, and it drove me nuts.