When I was a kid, Mawmaw and her sisters – The Aunts (pronounced like the insects “ants”) – would take all of us kids to the beach on Emerald Isle in North Carolina for a week in the summer. (Their motto is "Nice Matters" – and you wonder where I get this smiley thing.) This was the highlight of my year. I think my childhood brain was mainly absorbed by dreaming about this yearly event and then there was some space left over for curling my hair, dance class, doing Barbie’s hair, and math problems.
Over seventeen years of going to the beach, I learned to ride the waves, flirt with boys, and eat my weight in Fruity Pebbles. My recurring fantasy was that my best cousin, Rachel, and I would grow up to live in a house together on the ocean front. Now, Rachel and I live on different continents and neither of us live in a house on the ocean front, but that dream helped to make me a dreamer and where I live now seems like a dream. Many of the places I’ve lived have seemed dreamy to me, in fact – a farmhouse in Pennsylvania, a fifth floor flat in Paris, a town house six blocks from the US Capitol, an Arts & Crafts house next to one of the most famous recording studios in Nashville, and this flat in the treetops in London where I can hear the trains pass gently night and day.
I’ve lived in fifteen or so different places since I graduated college and I’ve never stayed in any one of them the whole year round. When I left Nashville a few weeks ago, after a two month stay, I noticed nearly black gladiolus getting ready to bloom in my yard which I’d never seen before. And I still haven’t seen them because here I am in London . . .
But, as I was saying. The Beach. This summer, Rachel decided that us “children” should take Mawmaw and The Aunts to the beach. So, she rented a house on Emerald Isle and, after more than twenty years, we all went to the beach. Well, we couldn’t all go, because in the time since our last visit, grandmothers and husbands, fathers and brothers, children and mothers have passed away. But there we were, the matriarchs, the progeny, the second husbands or wives, the newborn babies, the boyfriends, and the step children – the whole gamut of modern family life.
Because of this and that, I could only go for part of the week, but while I was there I spent a lot of time with my third cousin, Trevor, who is seven. Trevor and I got on like hot cakes because I often say that I am mainly seven in my everyday thinking. We collected seashells, we played chase, we splashed each other with water, we watched a movie, we made shell-covered animal cracker boxes, we ate the animal crackers while trying to decide whether we were eating an elephant or a koala (ack!), and we ogled scary fish together at the aquarium. His pronouncements on me were that I was good at coloring, good at crafts, a good singer, and pretty. That made my year.
When we were combing the beach for the absolutely perfect shells to decorate our animal cracker boxes, Trevor, who had been told that I was moving to England, asked me, “Which is better? England or America?” This was quickly followed up by, “Who do you think is more powerful? America or China?”
Well, Trevor . . . I tried to say something adult like, “Don’t you think it would be great if countries could work together to make the world a kinder place, rather than competing against each other to be better or more powerful?” Oh, Jeni. You may be good at coloring, but world political analysis for seven year olds? Maybe not.
Poor Trevor, I don’t think he got a very satisfactory answer from me. I decided to make monster noises and chase him to cover up my complete haplessness at answering his questions.
Ten days ago, I moved to England. I’ve been visiting England since I was nineteen. I’ve been a tourist, a student, and a worker here. Since 2009, when I played the Beverley Folk Festival, I’ve been traveling to Britain nearly every year for a musical tour. I’ve loved visiting Britain. And I’ve loved mainly living here for the last two and a half years. My Englishman is here and he’s a good enough reason for me to move anywhere in the world.
But this particular border crossing was different because, when I crossed it this time, I began a seven year path to dual citizenship. And these are strange times to be considering what it means to be a citizen. I am an American citizen, and I am a British learner citizen.
My family are all very concerned about my giving up my American citizenship – which I won’t be doing, thus dual citizenship – and the British Home Office has made it as trying and expensive as possible for me to pursue dual citizenship here. Some of my American fans perceive my London home as an incredibly dangerous big foreign city full of snares and bombs. And my British friends are exasperated by the mass shootings and gun-related deaths in the USA and wonder how anyone gets through the day there.
Some of my American fans feel like I’ve abandoned my roots. Some British fans feel that I’ve come here to find my deeper roots.
I know that I am here because I surprised myself and plenty of other people by falling head over heels for an Englishman a couple of years ago. This is the natural course of things – to be moving here and starting a new life – and I have put my little paper boat full of poems, songs, and drawings into this course and the Englishman and I are towing it along the path by a silky red string.
When I was a girl, I dreamed of living by the ocean with Rachel, but I also dreamed of falling in love, getting married, filling a house with furniture . . . but then it all got a bit vague. It was really just an impression built out of television sitcoms, home decorating magazines, and the cosmic human push to pair up and procreate. I couldn’t actually imagine what kind of job I would have because I loved going to school so much and I loved making things. Maybe an art teacher? I also loved microscopes, stars, and math problems. An astronomer? An astrologer?
I loved to color, dance, sing, make up stories, sew, and bake biscuits. Is there a job for that? I think that is the job that I have – that I’ve created for myself.
I never dreamed about having children. I never felt that capable or brave or reckless (depending on the circumstances) to be a mother.
My adult life has looked very little like those vague dreams. Instead, I’ve traveled most of my life. I’ve fallen in and out of relationships. I’ve felt deeply bewildered, eerily calm, and uncontrollably ecstatic. I’ve buried a parent and I’ve buried friends. I’ve made friends and lost them. I’ve made enemies without even trying. I’ve been my own enemy. I’ve been rescued and I’ve rescued myself.
But have I been a good citizen? What is it to be a citizen? Is it remembering the victorious dead? Is it recycling glass, paper, and plastic? Is it joining a church and taking meals to housebound strangers? Is it joining the army or taking guns to strangers? Is it running for office or running a soup kitchen?
Is England or America better? Is America or China more powerful? What can I say to Trevor?
What I keep coming back to is being a good citizen of my own tiny little country of myself. My Mom and I love a children’s book from the early 1900s called Yourself and Your House Wonderful about bodies and how to manage your own body properly. You can read the whole book thanks to the stunning Internet Archive. There are all kinds of metaphors for how you keep yourself well and tidy in the same way you’d keep a house tidy. And though this may sound quaint, I think it’s terrific advice.
Because answering a question like is England or America better is really too big. What shall I compare? The price of milk, murder rates, gross domestic product, obesity, life expectancy, or moss health? What makes a place the best? And to whom?
So, instead, because this is my letter, I’m going to think about when I am better – at my best. Because I still espouse the old fashioned notion that, at the end of the day, a nation is built of its citizens and if they are sick, tired, and poor, that nation will be too.
We need a little nap. We need a good nights sleep. We need to clean off our desk and finally file away those old bills. We need to put our laundry away. We need to make our beds, wash the dishes, and take out the rubbish. We can do this in our houses, but we can also do this in our minds and hearts.
We can say, “Dear heart, why are you holding on to this old worry? What if we just took a broom to that old cobweb of self doubt and shook it out onto the sidewalk.” Achoo!
Because it may seem like pop psychology or like a “me” generation kind of statement, but I firmly believe that if we can’t get a grip on our own little countries of self, what hope do we have of collectively making a great nation of ourselves? There have been times when my own little country was at war with itself – depression. Or when my country won gold medals left and right – high school. Or when my country felt like it was having a nationwide festival – giving a concert. I also know that the pirouettes of my little country sent those people-countries around me into wars and festivals, too, and so on and so forth, world without end. Amen, amen.
So, when I think of Trevor and his big questions about better and more powerful nations, what I want to say is look after your little person, Trevor. Rest and eat, make things and stretch, run and laugh, read and write, draw and swim, and always do these things. Resist ossification, domination, humiliation, exasperation, and big talk of nations. Let your little country spin beautifully. Let it rub like a purring cat up against the countries of your mother and father. Let it stand resolute in the presence of playground bullies. Let it dance around your third cousin Jeni when you find the perfect seashell. Do this always wherever you are and wherever you live, and those you live amongst will be well, too.
Fellow citizens of planet Earth, I hope you find the perfect seashell this summer. May you stand resolute in the presence of playground bullies and spin so wonderfully that all they can do is lie down and take a nap.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
sweep, sweep, sweep
. . .
P.S. Yes, I sold the Airstream to people in Alaska who are retiring to the Ozarks! What a neat new adventure for the Airstream.
P.P.S. News to come soon of my Airbnb in Nashville!
My homage to L'Enclume's Michelin Star chef Simon Rogan – Early Grey tea parcel on a bed of lemon drizzle dust topped with serviette plume. Thanks to Ken Anderson of Hungrytown for the photo. The Englishman and I are pleased to have Hungrytown, Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, in residence at our flat in London for four months! We'll be presenting them in concert in London on Saturday, October 5th. We'll also be hosting a house concert for Hungrytown at our home in Carnforth on Saturday, September 7th. Both concerts are doors 6:30, concert at 7. 12 pound admission. Space is limited, so if you'd like to reserve your seat, please write to me. We'd be pleased to have you!
And one more thing, my fan, Stuart, bought his wife, Helen, a Happy Summer present! What a guy. He found it in my shop where there are more Jeni-made gifts to be found. Stuart says, “My wife loves the bag and it has been receiving many admiring looks and comments from her circle of friends. My stock is also dramatically on the rise amongst that circle as I’m now recognised as a man of great taste & deep feelings!” This, too, could be you!
That's all folks! I've sold my Airstream. Some terrific people all the way in Alaska bought it and they'll be taking it to their retirement spot in the Ozarks and on their adventures! What a great future for the Bambi. Thank you for sharing my post. The buyers found it through the ad that I ran on Airstream Classifieds. So, if you're looking for your Airstream adventure, that's a great place to do your dreaming. For my part, I'm looking forward to getting my provisional license (yep, I have to get a "learner's permit") in the UK and being able to drive the little Fiat 500 around the streets of London – much smaller than the Airstream, but still egg-shaped, so perfect for me.
Hey all! I'm working on my description for my Airbnb which in the last few weeks of coming together! Here it is, if you have time to let me know if I might have missed something obvious. There will be a grid-thingy online with checkmarks to show all of the boring stuff like the fact that there's a washer and dryer, coffee-maker, etc. I'm just trying to describe the overall experience. ALSO, the Englishman and I brainstormed on names and we wondered about something like Coal Camp Cottage or Coal Mountain Cottage because of my Jewell Ridge history, etc, but I also want to honor the history of this particular house which Mr Draper built. So, thoughts about that would be great.
I will be leaving detailed descriptions on how things work inside the house.
I completely understand that only a few people may have time to comment, I just thought I would ask in case some folks were interested! HUGS AND SMILES AND Thank YOU! Jeni
Welcome to Draper House – a quiet and quaint wonderland for musicians and vintage lovers. Built by Mr. Draper in 1912 for his family, this wood-framed house with a big ole porch has only seen three owners in 107 years! Current owner, songwriter and Appalachian Folk musician Jeni Hankins, shuttles between Nashville and London, and welcomes you to her home while she’s away.
You’ll find all of the modern amenities like Google Fiber internet, a Smart Vizio TV, Apple TV, etc. But you’ll also feel like you’ve traveled back in time while surrounded by original woodwork and mantlepieces. Soak in the history while you play Jeni’s 1970’s Baldwin spinet piano, Seagull SG+ Folk guitar, Baby Taylor African-Bubinga-wood guitar, no-name 1930’s mandolin, and early 1900s open-back banjo. Have your own jam session on the old-fashioned porch where there are plenty of chairs and spots for drinks!
As a touring musician herself, Jeni knows what a stress it can be to travel, especially to fly, with your instruments. But if you really love pickin’, it’s tough to be without them. So, as her guest, you won’t have to hem and haw about buying a flight case or playing overhead-bin roulette, just play her instruments and bring them to life while she’s gone.
AND if you LOVE VINTAGE, you’ve come to a home that will get all of your ideas flowing. Set up a photo shoot on the Eastlake sofa, in the cowboy rocker, or in the clawfoot tub. Jeni’s front porch has been the set for many a photo shoot! You’ll find everything from tin doll houses to mini-matchstick cabins on her shelves. Plenty of these things she’s rescued from the hillsides and houses in her native Appalachia. Plus, East Nashville is absolutely chock-full of vintage shops, if you want to take goodies home!
Want to sit back and watch a movie or listen to music? Jeni has everything from a Columbia Grafonola to iHeart Radio, from VHS to Chromecast. Her house is full of vinyl records, DVDs, tapes, CDs, etc. Want more tunes? East Nashville is home to no less than three music shops, all of which have new and vintage vinyl sections.
Are you a bookworm? Jeni is too. She has everything from Dickens to Marilyn Monroe on her bookshelves, including a full set of The Oxford English Dictionary. Yep, all twenty volumes. Go ahead and look up that word you’ve always wondered about.
Do you like to sew? Jeni’s grandmothers and mother taught her to sew and she rarely goes anywhere without a needle and thread. She has a fully working 1940’s Singer electric in its sewing table in the bedroom and a 1960’s Singer hand crank machine which she welcomes confident stitchers to use. Jeni uses the hand-crank machine to sing and sew in her concerts!
Lots of paper, pens, pencils, scissors, tape, and a new wireless printer/copier/scanner for scribbling down ideas or printing off a letter to say you’re staying an extra week at Draper House!
Come and write a song here, write a novel, take a week to read good books, sew a quilt, or just sit out on the porch and watch the house sparrows and eastern cottontail rabbits.
This neighborhood is QUIET and this is not a through street, so you’ll have plenty of calm, but if you’re looking for bright neon lights and plenty of live music, there are four buses that take you directly from Jeni’s street to downtown in ten minutes. Not a fan of the bus? Save on parking costs downtown and grab a ride with Uber or Lyft. Want some energy closer to the house? How about Five Points which is only four blocks away! It’s home to bars, restaurants, and the famous Five Spot music venue of the TV series Nashville. There’s plenty of free parking on the street in front of the house, so you can rent a car with confidence if you prefer to be your own chauffeur.
Prefer to walk or cycle? There are several grocery stores, a post office, a bank, eateries, the public library, vintage and record shops, hair salons, spas, gift shops, bars, churches, liquor stores, and even a big art supply shop within a 10 to 20 minute walk of Jeni’s house. No, really. It’s a super walkable neighborhood with sidewalks everywhere. And Jeni has two lockable bikes out on the porch which you are welcome to use. One is an adult trike with a basket for collecting supplies. And she also has a collapsible rolling shopping cart which you can take, if you’re on foot, to carry home your groceries.
Want to bring friends? Draper House has one bedroom with a double bed, but there’s also a queen size air mattress and bedding available. Want to bring a lot of friends, but want your own space? There’s a huge Airbnb next door and many others literally moments away. Come as a group, but carve some space out for yourself. Why not?
Jeni has spent the last twelve years of her life touring and staying with friends and fans as well as in hostels, hotels, motels, and campgrounds. It’s her aim to make a space for you in her home that will feel just as nice as her favorite places to stay. Welcome to Draper House!
PLEASE SHARE: Due to my permanent relocation to the UK, I am selling my beloved and well-traveled 2006 Limited Edition Bambi 16ft Quiksilver 75th Anniversary Airstream Travel Trailer. It was my childhood dream to travel with one of these silver wonders and I was blessed to do that very thing for ten years! But, it’s impractical for me to take this beauty across the ocean to England and it would be remiss of me to let it sit lonely in my Nashville backyard. This Bambi is ready for new adventures!
Want to travel? Want to camp? Want a tiny guest house? Want a writer’s retreat? Want a super cool backdrop for your music video? You can not do better than this adorable and super-stylish trailer. If you take it out on the road, be prepared to show it to tons of random strangers in parking lots and campgrounds across America.
I hope that you will find all that you need to know about this LIMITED EDITION AIRSTREAM below. Any questions? Message me! Or email me at email@example.com. Please no time wasters or curiosity seekers. I am not just being a “busy person” when I say that I have a lot on my plate right now. So, I want a simple, clean sale with no tricky stuff!
First, I’m offering a $2000 discount if you can complete the sale and take the Airstream with you before July 1. So, anytime between now and June 30th, if you are here in Nashville with the money and your vehicle, and you take the trailer away, you will pay $2000 less. You will pay $33,000.
Second, the price is firm. I despise haggling and will not be worn down. I have given my price TONS of thought and I know that it is fair. I have no interest in trying to get as much out of people as possible, but I will not undersell this trailer. It is used, but not abused. It is rare and very few of them show up on the secondhand market. You know how Loretta Lynn says, “Don’t come home a-drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind?” Well, don’t come to my house with hagglin’ on your mind, either!
Mine has most of the available upgrades and options, including audio upgrade with multi-CD changer, CD player, mini-jack, DVD, LCD TV on wrap around mounting, wrap around windows front and rear (these are AMAZING when you are camping – the view, the cross-breeze), air conditioner with heat strip, 12,000 BTU furnace, electric hitch jack, refrigerator with freezer, curb side awning, Fantastic Fan with rain sensor, spare tire and mount. No solar panels, but it could be fitted for those. I no longer have the subwoofer and wireless speaker, but wireless speakers have come a long way since 2006! That speaker was the size of a soccer ball! If you want the specs, please see the spec sheet.
I am also offering, at no extra cost, two spare Blue Rhino LP Gas tanks, if you’d like them. I am also including a lightly used battery charger. I can also offer at no cost a futon mattress which fits the bed area. It is clean, but the cover, though washed thoroughly, retains some staining from reckless drinking of cups of tea in bed.
SOLD IN AS-IS CONDITION. I WILL DO NO REPAIRS AND I MAKE NO GUARANTEES.
This trailer has seen a lot of use. It’s been across the USA and back many times (seven?), and up and down the coasts and the middle, plus into Ontario and back, clocking nearly 200,000 towed miles. There were many tire blow-outs, one of which took out the waste system which I replaced. I’ve had the wheel bearings re-packed at least once, so it’s probably time for another go. The furnace stopped working almost right away and was replaced under warranty. I’ve had the galley floor replaced by Airstream twice, once due to a rain leak through the refrigerator vent, once due to a failure in the water storage tank system. I have replaced a quarter of the under-the-bed storage floor due to a leak in the window above. I have re-caulked the window and areas around that part of the storage bay floor (passenger side). Airstream also replaced the back center window which was shattered in Pennsylvania and one of the front window guards which blew off in Texas. Dozens of other tiny repairs! Many many tires. The current tires are from 2015.
Because my towing vehicle bit the dust in January of 2016, this Airstream has been winterized and stationary since then. I cleaned the entire inside thoroughly with a magic eraser sponge at that point since my diesel tow vehicle left a thin skim of grey particulate all over the white interior. That worked great and it’s now white and clean again! I have washed the outside twice a year since 2016.
I have not run most of the appliances since 2016. The hot water heater was drained and the plumbing system, too, as part of the winterization process. The refrigerator was working well as of February of this year (2019) when I turned it off to be greener. I haven’t used the furnace, air conditioner, or gas cooking burners since 2016. The passenger side speaker over the bed area works intermittently and has been that way for most of my trailer’s life.
I am selling the trailer AS-IS because I cannot vouch for all of these systems. And I am not a technician and cannot attest to structural integrity, nitty-gritty, etc. If I weren’t moving permanently to the UK, I would be buying another towing vehicle and heading out on the road with it myself, but that is all I can say about it’s road-readiness. I would strongly recommend taking it for a check-up since it has been sitting for three years. I would do that my own self before I went out with it again.
I have looked after this Airstream over the years and repaired any issues that arose. Most of those repairs were done by Airstream in Jackson Center, Ohio, at the mothership. Other repairs were done as needed on the road or at Camping World in Nashville, TN.
I am also selling the trailer AS-IS because I will not haggle with you if you come and say, well, there’s some staining on this part of the tiny closet floor. I have taken the condition into account when setting the price. This trailer was used, loved, and went everywhere across America. It’s not a showpiece that was kept in a garage, even though it is a collector’s item. Be prepared for signs of use. AND be prepared to realize that owning an Airstream or any trailer means maintenance and the unexpected. The number of times I thought all was going swimmingly only to find a soft spot in the floor (water tank leak) or I heard a big boom (blow-out #8) were many and various – even when the trailer just sits, it keeps you on your toes.
That said, I am presenting you with all of the information that I have at this point in my Airstream’s life.
I have retained all of the original appliances and most of the decor ( I don’t have the original mattress or bedding). I do have the doormat, original manual, two Airstream tumblers, and two Airstream coffee mugs. I have the Airstream keychain, keys to the many locks, and the Airstream canvas zipper bag with paperwork and manuals for all of the appliances. I also have the original sales receipt. I will pass all of this on to you.
I own the title free and clear and I will also transfer this to you.
Please do not ask me about towing. I have no idea if your car/suv/truck/bicycle will pull this trailer. I am not a towing expert. I pulled it with a 2005 Jeep Liberty Diesel and felt like my vehicle was always pushed to its limit. I used tow bars to stabilize the trailer which came in really handy during those tire blow-outs. That’s all I can say. Check with your vehicle manufacturer and read the forums. I drive a Fiat 500 on the other side of the road now, so I am not your best bet for towing advice! I do not have tow bars or a hitch receiver anymore for this trailer.
I hope the photos are helpful and I will be glad to answer any reasonable questions. I will accept payment by cash in person OR by bank cashier’s check in person. The check must clear my bank before I hand over the keys and the title and you take the Airstream. I am reluctant to get into bank transfers, etc, because of all of the scams, etc. So, if you want to do a transfer, we will have to think hard about that and the Airstream definitely won’t be going anywhere until the money is in my account.
Here’s a YouTube of what this model of Airstream looked like pretty much new, though this is a used one. NOTE: This is NOT my Airstream (see photos for my Airstream), so I don’t have the bedding pictured in this video. But, otherwise, my Airstream is the same and you can see the awning extended. My awning is the same! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWBQqa1mwMI
This Airstream has had a good life, full of adventure! This is your chance to experience the travel trailer life in a limited edition, super stylish, ultra-portable, classy Airstream!
Two LP gas tanks under the front cover.
You are also welcome to my two extra Blue Rhino gas tanks.
You are welcome to the wheel chocks and leveling chock.
Water and Septic hoses included. Also a septic hose rest and washing up bowl. Plus some hitch-ball grease and sundries.
Original curtains have been washed and ironed. A few light sun-stains on the curtains, but they are in pretty great shape! Quiksilver reading lights in great shape. Need a bulb for one.
TV was working as of 2016. Listened to the radio the other day. Works great except for the one pesky speaker above the bed on the passenger side. Always been intermittent.
Got rid of the Airstream issue mattress and replaced with a much more comfortable futon mattress (not pictured) which I'm happy to pass on to you.
Tiny closet! Can't believe I kept all of my stage costumes in here.
I always got tickled when people asked me if the refrigerator was a dishwasher!
Hot water heater control and fresh water/black water meter on top left above sink. There is only one waste-water tank which combines the grey and black water. The sensor has never worked properly for the waste-water. A common problem with these. The fresh water sensor is reliable when the trailer is level.
I had the toilet mechanism replaced at some point along the line.
You are welcome to the battery charger. Comes in handy.
Yep, the usual Airstream corrosion on both tail-lights.
AND THE SPEC SHEET. See my long letter above to understand which optional features I have and do not have!
Looking forward to talking with you!
If you are a super-completist, this trailer was used by the Appalachian Folk Duo, Jeni & Billy, for touring from 2006 to 2016. If you'd like a full copy of our discography, I will gladly pass that on with the sale of the trailer.