The Simple Life - Cajun Country Style

This is a long story, sorry about that. But as a writer, I just can't seem to keep a story brief. I start writing and it just flows and before I know it, there are thousands of words.

I have always appreciated a advantages of a simple life and never thought that life of wealth or excess was something that I wanted. However, I was a city girl who spent most of her life living in the New Orleans area. I even taught in the inner city of New Orleans and lived the suburban life.

But it was always stressful. I was constantly trying to keep up with the demands of work, my house and life in the city. Finally, my health failed and I developed a condition that almost killed me. I survived but my marriage didn't. I moved to a small apartment on the water and started life again.

Then Katrina hit and took almost everything that I owned along with my place to live. But this is not a sad story about what Katrina took from me. Instead, it is about a miracle that Katrina swept into my life. I returned to New Orleans to stay and ran into an old acquaintance who was thrilled to be in contact with me again. We quickly renewed our friendship and developed a close bond and we death with living in the aftermath of Katrina.

There we were with both of our homes destroyed and all our possessions gone with Katrina. We quickly decided that we could build a life together because we both knew each other to be good and trustworthy people. We decided to give it a try and we moved onto the cruise ship that was docked in New Orleans to house essential workers such as firefighters, police and first responders.(He was a firefighter with New Orleans).

We lived on the cruise ship for 6 wonderful months and thrived in the small space of our cabin. Other people wondered how we could survive in such a small space, so close together when we had only been in a relationship for a few weeks but we managed quite well.

From there we moved into a small FEMA trailer and finally into a 2 room apartment. After our success in the small spaces of the cruise ship and the FEMA trailer we decided that when he retired in a few years that we would build or buy a tiny house on the water. We began planning and looking at all of the tiny houses available on the internet and loved them.

After 2 years of being every happy together, he died suddenly from complications of an illness. He was my whole world and I was naturally devastated. I spent 6 months in shock and unable to do anything. I thought I would die of the pain but I survived and after 6 months, I decided that I had to leave New Orleans. It was too painful to be in a place where everything reminded me that he was no longer there. He would have wanted me to go on in life and pursue the life that we had both looked forward to.

Fast forward months later and hurricane Gustav was on his way to Louisiana. A internet friend of mine (let's just call him BayouBoy) invited me to come stay by his house farther inland than where I was living. I didn't like where I was living anyway and was alone so I knew it was better to evacuate north where at least I had someone to look out for me.

He came and got me and we grove to his property in the boonies on the outskirts if an itty bitty town and waited for Gustav to strike. He was the asst chief of the local volunteer fire department and was on call, working at a shelter and preparing for the aftermath. I was all for helping out with the efforts and joined in.

We were hit harder than expected and experienced a lot of damage in the area and were without electricity for about a week. During that time, our fire department handed out thousands of hot meals, MREs, ice and bottles water. This went on for about 2 weeks and we worked in the burning heat all day and slept in a hot unconditioned house at night. Hot showers were a thing of the past and we bathed in the pool or under the fire hose. He impressed with his ability to fix anything and to give so much to the relief effort, even spending his own money on gas, to help out everyone.

We made a good team as we worked and ran medical calls together. I decided that I liked the town very much and BayouBoy invited me to move there permanently as he had a lot of property with his home and a camper on it. I bought a small (8x24) wood frame house on wheels that used to be a camp and converted it into a cute and cozy house.

He respected me and allowed me to take my own time in our relationship because he knew that I was still getting over losing my late fiance. I appreciated that a lot and settled into my new life, made friends and became a certified first responder.

That was 4 years ago and we are still together. We got lucky and were able to buy a small 2 bedroom wood-frame (20 x 30, 600 sq ft) house for less than $5000 cash. The owners were selling it because they built a bigger, newer house. The house was in almost perfect condition, had a fireplace, new carpet, new paint, etc. The only drawback was there were no closets since it was an older house.

The catch to this great deal was that we had to move the little house to our property. Normally, such an undertaking can cost about $10,000 but BayouBoy said he could move it himself. I told him disbelievingly " You can't do that!" but I was wrong and I have the pictures to prove it. He did indeed move that house from a few miles down the road and up our long dirt driveway to our property. BayouBoy doesn't know the meaning of the word "can't".

Together we have worked to shape our life into a simple life without debt, credit cards or working in a 9-5 job.We wanted a life with monthly living expenses that were well below $1000 a month. We didn't want to be tied to a traditional job, working to support a big house and expensive vehicles.We wanted to be our own bosses and live a relatively stress free life on our own time and not have to conform our lives to the work schedule of an employer.

He is a jack of all trades and can fix anything in a house, car or tractor, does handyman work, works cattle with friends and also has seasonal jobs as well. I work as a writer online, as well as caring for an elderly relative and working with BayouBoy when he needs a hand. Together we have roofed houses after storms, hunted alligators each year during gator season and picked pecans during pecan season to support our life and are very happy with life that way. We decide when we want to work and when we want to play or rest.

Our property is family property and our portion is about 20 acres, although we have the use of many more acres. Our nearest neighbors are half a mile away and are BayouBoy's parents. Other than that, there aren't neighbors for miles around. There are thousands of acres of undeveloped property surrounding us, most of it owned by relatives. We live in utter privacy and love it.

The only drawback is our driveway is half a mile long and during a bad rain, it becomes unusable and we have to use the 4 wheeler to get to the highway (where we park when it rains) or drive the truck thru the pastures. One day we will get rocks on the driveway or pave it but that will cost more that we paid for our house!!

Everyone who pursues a simple life does so for different reasons. One of my main reasons was because I wanted less stress and less expenses. I needed a life that I could keep up with and wouldn't leave me exhausted. I have had serious health issues (along with fibromyalgia) and can no longer teach all day and keep up with 30 kindergarteners like I used to do so easily.

I have really worked to get our monthly expenses in line. I refuse to go into debt on a vehicle or to get a credit card and run up the balance. Luckily, we don't have a mortgage to pay. We opted to give up cable and rely on antennae TV and we can also get DVDs from any library in the state. We do have internet service which both of us couldn't live without. We opted out of city water because it was expensive and tasted like chlorine. We have a well on the property which suits us fine.

Our monthly expenses consist of our cell phones, internet, electricity, insurance on vehicles, food and whatever expenses come up. A good estimate for everything would be less than $800 a month which is very reasonable.

We are working towards using our property to bring us income. We have pecan trees which produce pecans that we sell each year. BayouBoy is raising a small herd of cattle which he is hoping to add to. I would love to be off the grid but solar panels are expensive and a risky propositions in an area that gets hit by hurricanes.

That's my summary of our version of the simple life. I enjoy reading your stories about your simple life and your conversations and ideas that are shared.

BayouGirl BayouGirl
41-45, F
Sep 19, 2012