Life unexpected: Surviving life’s twists and turns

Published 10:05 pm Monday, August 24, 2015

Have you ever wondered why someone decides to write a book? It might be a memoir, detailing the author’s life experiences. Sometimes it’s cathartic, therapeutic after a traumatic life event.  And sometimes the writer just has a good story to tell.  For Bill Warren, it was all three. Today I’m meeting Bill and Cynthia Warren to discuss Bill’s book, Nobody’s Nomad.

“This is a ‘you don’t think this could ever happen to you’ story”, Bill begins. “It all relates to the housing crisis. Cynthia and I were living the ideal life, retired, children grown, money at our disposal that allowed us to do what we wanted. We had a small horse farm situated on eight acres. For many years our investments were involved with second mortgages,” he continues. “Then the housing crisis exploded and overnight we lost everything.”

They woke up one day to find all their retirement money had disappeared in the financial crisis.  As they struggled daily to pay bills and survive, it eventually led to foreclosure on the house and four acres.

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“Let me go back to the beginning,” Bill says. “Most of my life had been spent in California. I was a Ferrari salesman. I had always loved cars. I met Cynthia when she was my mail lady and I fell in love with Cynthia,” he grins. “One day in 1989, I was in the showroom watching the baseball game when the big earthquake happened. Windows were breaking. The condos across the street were breaking apart and swaying back together. I lived near the epicenter. In my home the plaster fell off the walls and stacked itself in the middle of the room. It was surreal.”

He shakes his head, still in disbelief. “I decided I had enough of California. I sold my classic car collection, sold my house and headed to Florida to live the sunshine state lifestyle. Eventually, Cynthia followed.”

COLUMNLandrumWandering8.25 BookCoverWEBTiring of Florida, they decided to move to Charleston. They owned an Airstream trailer and spent time camping and traveling.  After discovering another aluminum style trailer called a Spartanette, they worked out a trade and began restoration of the 1950 Spartanette. Little did they know that one day it would be home.

Bill continues, “Charleston was growing.  It became crowded and we decided to relocate to Western North Carolina.” And, as he related at the beginning of the story, life was good.

And then the crash. Disaster happened and they were foreclosed. They found themselves moving into the 200 square foot Spartanette, parking in a campground. As time weighed heavily, and Bill tried to sort out the what, why, and how of what happened, Cynthia encouraged him to write a book.

The result, “Nobody’s Nomad”, chronicles Bill’s journey and their two years of living in close quarters, learning to appreciate the small things in life, the beauty of the outdoors that presented itself right out their door, people that became like family, a simpler life.

Cynthia adds, “A lot of stress was gone. We didn’t have any bills.  There was no pressure to buy stuff just to buy stuff. I made a poster board, ‘things to be grateful for.’ I just knew it would work its way out one day. I thought ‘three years’,” she reflects.

To keep a positive attitude, they would take drives through neighborhoods, searching for possible future areas to live. “I knew our finances,” Cynthia explains. “We did still have four acres of horse property to sell one day.” And Bill adds, “I’m a vet. You can get a VA mortgage two years after foreclosure.” So there was light at the end of a long tunnel.

On one of their drives they discovered a house in Landrum that was affordable. HGTV would have described it as a fixer upper, with a lot of potential.

“I peeked in the windows.” Cynthia laughs. “Then when the realtor showed it, I knew immediately this would be my home.  It had everything I had left behind, three bedrooms, two baths, a den, and a kitchen nook. And it was situated on an acre of land. I knew we could do the work.” Cynthia and Bill proudly give me a tour of their home. I express my amazement at all they had done.

I’ve enjoyed hearing their travails. Life can hand you a curve ball when you least expect it. Bill and Cynthia have an interesting story and, in parting, Cynthia smiles, “Now it’s happily ever after.” Bill’s book, Nobody’s Nomad, is available on