Author: John Lucas Kovasckitz
Eight months ago, Danielle and I moved out of the house we were renting. It was hard to swallow spending about $1,000 a month to store our belongings and the bed we slept in maybe 10 nights of each month. We purged many of our things and stored the rest, and haven’t looked back.
OK, sure, we look back often. But we would do it all again without hesitation.
Half of the month we have been Cottage Parents at The Crossnore School raising nine children, the other half we have been childless and relentlessly relying on the kindness of others for a place to stay in their homes...camping, sleeping in the van we built out (now sold!), and occasionally staying in fancy hotels and Airbnbs. We’ve spent time in Vermont, Maine, DC, Chicago, and have gotten to know the woods of the North Carolina mountains much better.
Do it while you’re young, people have told us.
When I was younger, I was much more pragmatic than I am today. I saved and scrimped the money I earned...I worked hard. I was pushing mowers and raking leaves at ten. At twelve I was saving for a down payment on a house, and calculating mortgages while actively searching the market. Around that time I was also occasionally stuffing envelopes for a state senator, whom I remember giving me eight bucks from the Good Fairy (the more grown-up version of the Tooth Fairy) for losing a tooth over lunch. I cleaned houses before starting at fifteen with a fresh worker’s permit in hand at a nationally known quick-service restaurant, where it was my pleasure to work for the next four and a half years. At eighteen I was working full time, going to school full time, and generally getting straight A’s.
I’m twenty-six now. Twelve year old Lucas would certainly have expected future twenty-six year old me to have it a bit more together. I’m married, which is good...but certainly lacking the biological kids and the mortgage and the formidable career which I don’t necessarily love but that I don’t necessarily hate that pays all of the necessary bills and feeds the 401k.
I blame it on my liberal education and my free-spirited wife. And to make twelve year old me even happier, we’re going a bit further.
We’re quitting our jobs after working the shift through Thanksgiving with our kids, and we’re flying out January 1st for New Zealand. We currently have flights booked from New Zealand to Australia, Bali, Laos, Thailand, Nepal, and India. We will then probably spend some time in Europe before heading back to the United States. All told, we’re planning on living out of our packs for six or seven months.
Joining us through Nepal is our fearless companion Emily Dobberstein, one of our best friends...who is also currently a Cottage Parent and living out of her car when not working. Isn’t there a saying about crazy attracting crazy? Emily was part of our crew for our trip to Iceland, and lived with us for awhile when we had our house. Emily is someone that we (are hoping) we will not kill (or vice versa) in stressful situations and close quarters, including occasionally our three-person tent.
We’re planning on doing some of the Great Walks and farming in New Zealand (between staying with our new Kiwi bestie - Courtney, we’re coming for you!), and staying with some of Danielle’s friends and their fresh youngins in Australia. We’ve booked some honeymoon suites in Bali, we’re doing an extended moped trip in Laos, and we’re planning on tackling the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. We’ve applied to stay and work at an orphanage in India, and we’re hoping to attend a silent meditation retreat in Thailand.
Do it while you’re young, people have told us...but occasionally the tone has implied that maybe we’re not that young anymore and we should really start getting our s--- together.
But here’s the thing: sometimes I’m afraid, and sometimes pragmatic twelve year old me talks the loudest, but I don’t want to stop taking risks and dreaming when I’m older.
I want to do things that are scary and exciting and different when I’m middle-aged, and after I have kids, and after I retire, and all of the other milestones that we’ve put up for ourselves as the markers of when we aren’t allowed to dream anymore.
And as a declaration in that spirit of faith (close your ears, twelve year old Lucas), unless something bigger and better and full of life is put in my path, I want to pursue music and my other creative avenues full time when I return to the States. And I hope that you help to hold me to that. I believe that what I create is important, and deserves more than my leftover time.
I hope that you haven’t read in this post a self-righteous attack on having houses or kids or comfort. My eventual dream includes a piece of land with a garden to putter in, kids underfoot, and a house with a piano and a big kitchen. What I hope you’ve read is a sometimes-shaky-voiced-declaration that you don’t have to settle for what you’re “supposed” to do - by this world’s standards, for a successful life - when it doesn’t make you come alive. My wife helped to teach me that.
I hope that you will follow along with our journey, and I hope you forge your own. Here’s to bravery, no matter our ages.