I really, really want to be alone.  We have had 9 days of togetherness as the kids have been out of school for fall break.  While their classmates have departed for exotic destinations- Mexico, New York, Hawaii- with their employed parents (who come to think of it would have had to take vacation days :-)) we stayed home.  Not just in town but on several days we literally just stayed home.  And home measures 7.5 x 25 feet.  Our ‘yard’ – a cement strip next to the trailer just about doubles our space but the floor space inside the trailer is merely a hallway between the couch, dinette and the one fixed bed.  Space and privacy are big issues in family RV living. The bathroom is the only room with a door and if you try to escape in there (as my oldest daughter is currently doing to carry on a phone conversation with a friend) someone inevitably has to use the facilities before you want to give up your privacy.  At night my oldest two daughters convert the dinette and couch into beds, my youngest daughter (and all the animals) sleep with me, and my son sleeps in a sleeping bag on the floor beside my bed.  We guard our individual space with varying degrees of ferocity- my middle daughter has claimed the couch so thoroughly, strewing it with her possessions and sprawling across it,  that it seldom functions as a couch.  My son’s space is swept away every morning as the sleeping bag is rolled and stowed and the hallway reclaimed but the floor is littered with his hot wheel cars.

As an anthropologist I’m well aware that humans have spent much of our evolutionary history crowded together in small spaces- caves, tents, and huts filled with several generations of family members- and that children have traditionally (until the last century in the Western world) slept with their parents.  But I don’t find that knowledge does much to reduce the level of stress that I feel after being cooped up with four other people in a space about the size of two jail cells.  Guard- may I have a stretch in solitary?

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