Simplifying our lives seemed like it should be…well, simple. This whole adventure was born of a desire for more spontaneity and less planning, minimizing routines and maximizing new experiences, and fewer things on our ‘to do’ list and more on our ‘done did’ list. But we discovered this past week that getting to simplicity is complicated, and humans have a difficult time with it.
An issue that comes up when you’re leading a wandering lifestyle is what you do for mail. Despite the fact that almost everything related to living is done online these days — and in fact with the push to paperless many businesses all but require online only — you still must list a mailing address for everything. Given that we were selling the house, we signed up for a service that gives you a ‘permanent,’ physical address (that is NOT a PO Box or managed by the US Post Office in any way) and they manage your mail for you. These services have been around for some time, catering to cruisers and full-time RVers. Once it arrives at this address, they email you a photo of the envelope and you tell them if you want them to trash it, forward it to wherever you are (such as a marina or campground where you will be staying), or open and scan the contents to an email address. Dave had already converted everything possible to electronic only, and this would satisfy the demand to have a physical mailing address and catch any other random bits of mail that came through. Since 90% of what we have been getting at the house these last few years goes straight into the recycle bin without even being opened, this was a good option for us. It seemed simple enough.
But then we had to deal with our driver’s licenses. We were both due for renewals this year, and planned on keeping Minnesota domicile until we had a boat and settled on a ‘home’ port. But in Minnesota you must do a change of address in person. So we made appointments to accomplish this as soon as we got back in town last week. There’s a long list of documents you must bring to get an Enhanced ID because MN was on the Naughty List for their standard driver’s license to be used to get through airport security, as evidenced by the fact that my driver’s license could not be used alone as ID even at the DMV, which issued it in the first place. Additionally, we had to bring something with our new address on it, like a utilities bill or bank statement – because in today’s technology it’s sooooo hard to create a fake piece of paper with a different address on it that proves your residence. Whatever. So early on a Saturday morning we arrive at our designated times for our appointments. I present all my required documents and application, but the clerk throws me a curve ball by giving me another form with a bunch of questions that includes, under penalty of perjury, one asking if I reside at the address listed on my form. It’s the perjury threat that gets me, not because I fear going to jail but because if I’m going to go to jail I really want it to be for something more badass than fibbing on a DMV form. Plus I have a very simple explanation for why I don’t physically live at that address – or any address for that matter. I know many others have travelled this path before me, and surely the DMV has encountered this. That was a serious miscalculation on my part, because unfortunately I got the DMV Clerk Who Was Mad She Had to Work On A Saturday and she was a little grumpy.
DMV Clerk WWMSHTWOAS: You don’t live at this White Bear Lake address on your application? You can’t have an address on your license if you are not living there!
Me: But I don’t live anywhere. We’re going to be in a camper or on a boat and moving around every few days.
DMV: Well, you can’t NOT live where we will be mailing your license.
Me: This mail service will send it to wherever I am living that week, depending on where I tell them to send it when they let me know it has arrived.
DMV: We can’t do that. Do you have a relative here and can use their address? They can send it to you.
Me: I have a brother-in-law in Lakeville, but I won’t be living there either. If I’m NOT going to live somewhere, why can’t I NOT live in White Bear Lake?
DMV: You cannot NOT live at a business. You have to NOT live at a residence.
This is feeling like a bad Dr. Seuss knock-off.
The clerk at the window next door, who apparently doesn’t mind working a Saturday morning, tries to help by explaining to my clerk that the Post Office won’t be forwarding it, but this private service would and it would be no different than if my brother-in-law sent it to me. At least she seemed to get it, but not my clerk.
My DMV Clerk: Well I’ve never heard of this. I’m going to have to ask my manager.
I knew I was doomed when she disappeared in the back office. Nothing good ever comes from asking a DMV manager anything. I had no idea how she was going to pitch it, IF she was going to pitch it at all. My guess is she just checked her Facebook for a couple minutes and then walked back out. Why couldn’t I have drawn the DMV Clerk Next Door?
DMV: You can’t use the White Bear address on your license. You can use your relative’s address in Lakeville as where you live, and then we’ll list the White Bear Lake address as your mailing address.
Me: So they will mail it to White Bear?
DMV: No, they can’t mail to that mailing address. They’ll send it to Lakeville.
Huh? That seemed like a very complicated result of all this, but I realized that resistance was futile. I get that she was just doing her job and there is probably a very good reason for this rule, but it was still frustrating because it defied logic in my circumstance. The real irony here? Dave was at a window across the room, and he didn’t have any problems.
That was the start of our Simplipalooza Week. We moved on to emptying the house. It also seemed a pretty simple concept – just make everything go somewhere else. As we looked at what was left, we found ourselves wanting to get rid of more and more beyond what we had originally planned. Like the garage sale in September, we had rekindled that purge mentality. Facebook Marketplace was once again my go-to resource, and I thought I had it down this time. I started listing, and it didn’t take very long for my phone to start pinging like crazy with ‘is this still available?’ inquiries. What followed was a three-day parade of people pulling up to the garage and loading their car or truck up. Two sofas, the living room furniture, dressers, rugs, organizer units, bed frames, end tables, a smart TV and a dumb TV — all went to new homes. It went pretty smoothly, except for when someone took the cushions for someone else’s sofa, thinking they were theirs. Aaaargh!!! After some frantic texting and FB Messages, I figured out what had happened and arranged to get them back, but it meant a two-hour additional errand added to our busy week. Once again, simple got complicated.
The movers came to take the final big pieces to the storage unit. There really wasn’t much by then, and it took a little over two hours door to door. We moved on to the final donation drop off. Then came the final boxes to the storage unit, which admittedly consisted a lot of things we just didn’t know what to do with so we just threw them in a box and took it to storage. The final cleaning. I’ve always said that my house is the cleanest on the day I move in and the day I move out. Our trash can filled up quickly. You know you live in a great neighborhood when you can put out an email plea to see if anyone had room for another trash bag, and within 20 min you have more offers of trashcans than you have trash. So at least this final part was simple.
Friday of that week was the walk through and closing. We met the new owners, and it was a little uncanny how many similarities we had. They will fit well into the neighborhood, which left us feeling really good. Dave explained all the tech stuff, but I suspect they hit information overload about halfway through. They’ll have to rely more on my method of pushing buttons and asking ‘what does this button do?’ and hope they don’t accidentally bring a satellite down over Madagascar or something. Closing went smoothly, and by noon we were mortgage free and on the road back to Florida.
Arriving back at the trailer two days later, we now had one final loose end remaining on our simplification checklist: closing out our Wells Fargo account once the mortgage had been paid off and consolidating into just one bank for everything. In the olden days, you would just walk into the branch and be done with it. But in current days, just getting into the bank is a process. Dave had tried to make an appointment online, but that didn’t work so he called. After going through one of those horrible phone trees (twice) that desperately needs to be pruned, of course he was told he could make the appointment online. Requesting to make it now because he was already on the phone with them, he was told “I’ll have someone get back to you.” We went about some other errands we had to do, and a few hours later still hadn’t heard anything so pulled into the closest branch we could find. We walked into a near-deserted bank, and were quite warmly greeted and warmly told we’d have to make an appointment. But we’re here now. In front of you. And it’s not like there’s a whole lobby full of people. *sigh* Once again — whatever. So we had to return two hours later.
So now all in Minnesota is effectively in our rear view mirror, we are leading a much simpler life from the camper, and will be resuming the search for a boat. All, of course, while NOT living in Lakeville and NOT living in White Bear Lake.
Because it’s complicated.