Christmas. 1985. While most of my classmates were off doing normal Christmas stuff, once again, my family was moving. No, this wasn’t the first time we’d moved during Christmas break—on Christmas Eve, but that’s a story for another day.
In Mojave, California, in an undeveloped area of land parcels known as “Aquaduct City,” we put a travel trailer. Eighteen feet of “tiny house” living before it was popular. We had no electricity, our water came from 55-gallon barrels that Dad hoisted to the roof of our trailer (so water pressure depended on how full that thing was), and for “necessary” problems, we had a shovel.
For those who don’t know or remember, the desert is cold in winter. No, we don’t get to twenty below, but we get down to twenty, and that is below freezing. Just sayin’. When the wind whips down the side of a mountain at twenty-five miles an hour and you have to “moon” it to do your business… well…
Showers were “fun.”
Navy showers. You know, when you get into the minuscule cubicle masquerading as a shower, turn the water on, count to five while you try to get wet, and then turn it off. You soap up, rinse, and turn it off again. Dad resented conditioner. Twice the water usage.
People used to say we didn’t have hot and cold water. They lied. We had both. It’s just that the hot water came in summer and the cold in winter.
Looking back at our simple living years, I bet people at school thought we were “poor.” You know, at the private school I attended? The one my parents paid well for? The very people who envied my very large allowance?
Of course, we weren’t wealthy by any stretch. But when you don’t have rent or a mortgage, you can afford a lot more on a decent-paying job. So, despite our perceived poverty, we actually did well for the eighteen months we lived out there.
But then poverty, I’ve discovered, can be just as much a state of mind as it is a physical reality.
I’ve known people with huge incomes who barely made it week to week. Other people, like #1daughter, can work like a dog cleaning houses, reselling thrift store items, making clothes, and I don’t know what all to pay off a 40K mortgage in eighteen months… without using a penny of their meager income to help do it.
Still, doing all the things it takes to survive out on property without electricity or running water, doing everything for yourself to save a few dollars—all that simple living stuff that I’ve had characters do… it takes a lot of hard work.
That’s why I was interested in a new book that recently released—Adventures in Poverty. The opening of this book sounds so much like my childhood experience it isn’t funny. Sure, they had a mobile home and we had a travel trailer, but the result was the same. “Homestead” living without modern conveniences. She lived in upstate New York. We just lived in the desert. Still, I bet she’d agree with me on this point.
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Simple Living Is Anything but Easy!
This memoir reads in a casual, friendly style that makes you feel as though you’re just sitting having an afternoon chat with the author. I picture a porch swing, lemonade, and maybe even lemon cookies, but that might just be because I’m hungry.
The love and contentedness Bolton has for her life shows best in the way she shares even the hard times through a lens of gratitude and persistent joy. She’s not always “happy,” but you sense that deeper joy within that hard times can’t take away like it can with simple happiness.
One thing I found particularly interesting is that while the story doesn’t follow a precise linear path, it feels as if it does. Bolton seems to weave threads of time, theme, and faith together in a solid cord that works well. I usually find this kind of back and forthness frustrating, but in Adventures in Poverty, I always knew where in the timeline of their lives I was.
I think that’s the difference.
I’m grateful for receiving a free review copy and am thrilled to have enjoyed it enough to give it the review I have. Recommended for anyone who enjoys true accounts of purposeful lives, lovers of memoirs, and readers of Past Forward. Willow Finley would put this book on her shelf.