Troy and Erin Curet are living the American dream.
They own a four-bedroom home, have two cars, two children – a boy and a girl – and one chocolate Labrador.
Both are employed: Troy, a manager at Red Mesa Grill, and Erin, a stylist at Epiphany Salon.
It’s a good life, but they don’t want it. The Curets are selling their home and practically all their belongings, and packing up their children and dog for a life on the road.
The idea materialized during one of Troy and Erin’s “Meeting of the Minds,” a 6 a.m. ritual around the French press where the couple would just talk. This could include issues at work, the day’s agenda or whatever ideas awkwardly formed while waking up.
And it was just that, an awakening for the Williamsburg couple who realized the objects around them, even the kitchen they were standing in, had become a prison.
“It’s been a really slow, progressive epiphany,” Erin said. “Last summer, Troy and I discussed the possibility of moving to Thailand, but I couldn’t comprehend giving up my house or my stuff.”
It wasn’t until they found the “perfect” house and location that the couple pegged their unhappiness.
“We’ve bought three houses, put a ton of money into each one. We thought, ‘Maybe if it’s in a different location. Maybe if it’s nicer.’ The need to find that perfect home was the result of tragedy when Erin’s father was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2010.
“My first instinct was to go home,” Erin said. So the family moved from Indiana to Traverse City, Erin’s hometown.
“This time we bought a house in a great neighborhood. We love the home, we love our neighbors. I wouldn’t change anything about it and we’re still like, ‘this sucks,’” Erin said.
“You feel like your house is so safe. Like that’s your source of comfort. But it could burn down anytime. My dad dying was probably the worst thing I’ve had to face, but it taught me so many lessons,” Erin continued. “I believe in my strength as a person and that security comes in who I am and what I can do. When you only have security in yourself, that’s where the real power comes from.”
“And living with no fear,” Troy added. “If you ask yourself what the worst case scenario is and you just face that right on, is it really so bad?”
SHEDDING STRESS & BARRIERS
Originally, the Curets hadn’t planned to sell the house, continuing their mortgage payments while on the road but having a place to come back to if needed – a glorified security blanket, if you will.
“We thought, ‘Well what if we lose the house?’” Troy said, “So the answer for us was, ‘Well, let’s just get rid of it.’” By eliminating those factors for worry, the Curets say they have continued to shed stress.
“There’s almost this spirit about the trip.
It has its own momentum,” Troy said. “You find what makes you happy and you just pursue it, knocking out the things that are hindering that,” Troy said matter-of-factly.
“We thought okay, this is what will make us happy: traveling, exploring, being creative, being with our kids, teaching our kids. So we’ve just knocked out every single barrier to that, which would be working a ton, it would be this house, filling this house with stuff, providing this house with electricity and internet.”
Erin added to that idea, saying, “When you put your focus on your children and spending time with each other, it’s amazing the things you used to think were important just fall away.”
A GIVING HIGH
The Curet children, ages five and seven, are used to change (Marnie has attended five different schools due to Troy’s moving up the restaurant industry ladder) and they have embraced the idea of giving, rather than receiving.
This past Christmas, while the Curets were undergoing their inner dialogue, the family decided that instead of buying gifts for one another, they would purchase a $100 gift card to Wal-Mart and pick a random stranger to give it to.
“Not wanting to draw attention to ourselves, we gave it to a lady under the false story that we were leaving the store and the card had only a remaining $2,” Erin wrote on the family’s online blog. “She may have been suspicious as my children were giggling outrageously and after handing over the card we ran... literally ran from the store. Oh well, we were hooked.”
The Curets continued giving away money, clothing and other household items.
“It’s kind of a high,” Erin said. “It feels great,” Troy added. Even their children caught the giving bug. “My daughter was sticking money in the pockets of her clothes so when people bought them, they’d find it,” Erin noted about her seven-year-old daughter.
Parents were sending in notes to the school saying Marnie was giving her classmates money, concerned their child had taken it from her.
But it’s just who Marnie is, her parents shrugged.
TAKE WHAT YOU NEED
The act of getting rid of materialistic things isn’t new. There’s actually a whole movement called minimalistic living.
“Four plates, four forks, four knives,” Erin listed off what they’re keeping.
Erin and Troy will keep their laptops and phones while Marnie and Ethan are allowed three items each. For Marnie, it’s her ventriloquist doll “Rainbowtrout,” her Barbie and some paper and drawing utensils. For Ethan, he’s taking Legos, his puppet and a toy car.
The Curets plan on homeschooling their children, using the laptops, their eReaders – books take up considerable space – and the open road as their learning tools.
They’ve already started adjusting to what it will be like living in the tight quarters of their 19-foot camper van.
“It was the kids’ idea to move into our room,” Erin laughed.
Despite having three other bedrooms, the family now utilizes only one room until their house sells, which allows their realtor to show the house at a moment’s notice.
However, even if the house doesn’t sell, the Curets are set on leaving in September.
As far as how they will supplement their new lifestyle, the family has savings and the money they’ve received from selling their items. Erin is also an artist (you can find her paper jewelry and artwork at etsy.com) so she plans on selling her work at craft shows and festivals.
If worse comes to worse, the Curets say they will simply settle somewhere and get temporary work.
The overall reaction has been positive when people find out about the family’s endeavor.
“I really expected a lot of people to be like ‘You’re crazy. You’re going to ruin your children,’” Erin said. “It’s been very few, at least to our face.”
With no set itinerary or obligations, the Curets say they’ve found a peace they have long been searching for.
“We wanted the American dream and we worked really hard to get here,” Erin said, “but now that we’ve gotten here, we need to strive for something else. We’re just stagnant and that’s just sad.
“I can’t do this for another 60 years,” she continued, looking around her immaculate home. “That sounds horrible to me, but I just can’t go to school functions. I don’t want to go to basketball games.”
“Which is okay for some people,” Troy added, “but that’s just not us.”
The Curet family will be holding an estate sale this weekend, May 11, 12 and 13, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at their house (which is currently listed on TAAR.com for $175,000). The house is located on Applewood Lane in Williamsburg. To follow the Curet family on their journey, visit curetfamily.blogspot.com.