Culture
March 01, 2018

The Realities of Post-Grad Life and What You Don't See on Facebook: Confessions of A Girl Living in Her Parent's RV

Artist Alyssa Mattei writes about her post-grad experience while living in an RV with her parents.
Written
by Alyssa Mattei

The omnipotent fear of the future past graduation is present for anyone who doesn’t have a job nailed down right after school ends. Many dread the idea of going to live back home, that idea didn’t usually bother me... Until I didn’t have a home.

The summer before my senior year of college my parents decided to sell the house. Every free weekend of my fall semester I went back to my house to try to consolidate 22 years worth of stuff from the attic to the basement (and every room in between) into boxes which had to fit in about a quarter of my grandparents basement ― our new storage locker. Before finals week even rolled around I was effectively “homeless”. My parents moved in with my grandparents and on the second day of the new year we started our new life living in an RV. I went back to school for my last semester and after graduating, and a month long vacation to visit friends on my own, I moved full time into the motor home with my parents.

Oftentimes when I look at my life through the screen of Facebook, I am even jealous of myself. But it’s not all exploring cities and mountain skylines. It’s sharing a 35ft moving house with your parents without having your own room. It’s the longest you’ve gone without being home and seeing your friends and family. Weeks between conversations with anyone other than your parents. Days between showers and free wifi. It’s flushing the toilet with dirty dish water. It’s staying up until 6am to catch mice on the kitchen floor, and not knowing where you’re staying that night as you drive down an obscure highway with no cell service. There are no weekends. No time when you get to go home and rest. This isn’t a vacation, this is your life.

A canal reflects the colorful housing of Freiburg, Germany.
Many tourists gather to get a closer look at the Grand Prismatic basin in Yellowstone National Park. One of the most well-known attractions in the park because of its rainbow color, which is caused by thermoacidophiles ― a heat loving bacteria.

If you had asked me where my life would be in four years when I first started college, I never could have imagined where I am now. I didn’t even know if I would stick out being in college, let alone transferring to and graduating from a much larger university. And I definitely would never have thought I wouldn’t have my childhood home to come back to.

I couldn’t have dreamed that in the month after I graduated I would be flying to London to visit friends I had met studying abroad. In July, I would have to take 3 flights into 4 airports, and travel over 20 hours to get back to my parents, then in Minnesota, where we watched a lumberjack competition. In August, I would get to experience the drop in temperature as the total solar eclipse cloaked the Teton mountains in shadows. In September, I’d take a day trip to Canada via a ferry, and in October I’d be exploring the small town of Forks, where the Twilight series is based. I’ve hiked up mountains, through rainforests, swam in hot springs and glacier fed lakes, trekked through the badlands and taken selfies with Mount Rushmore.

An aqua river deep below the Yellowstone’s canyon adds to its many hues.
When in a little town of France, getting the soundtrack to “Beauty and the Beast”
stuck in the head is inevitable. (Wissembourg, France).

It’s been 3 months since I began traveling with my parents and I feel like I’ve already lived 100 different lives in one. We have stayed overnight in 7 states, 15+ small towns and cities, and explored twice as many. Every day is a new opportunity for taking hundreds of pictures and witnessing the diversity of the American landscape, from watching cowboys two step to live music in a town with a permanent population of 67 people to touring state capitol buildings.

When my parents first made this decision I thought they were crazy. The idea of joining them made me apprehensive, to say the least, but this opportunity has been nothing short of awe inspiring. Every night I count my lucky stars that I am able to do this ― and out here, there are a lot of them.

A Roosevelt elk naps and snacks off a hiking trail in Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park.
A baby mountain goat peeks out from behind its mother on the Highline Trail,
in Glacier National Park.
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