First Day of the Van Life

I can tell you this: not having a fixed home definitely puts you in a different mindset. I’m sure I’ll settle into a routine eventually, but for now I have a strong feeling of “I can go anywhere and do anything.”

Mostly I’ve been trying to figure out the little things: where to put my few belongings, whether I want to pull the curtains every time I park and get out, and HOW THE FUCK to get the plastic bins from sliding around.

There’s only so much I can optimize before next paycheck. Today I’m ordering a rack for the spare tire so I have more room to stack the bins. Next paycheck I’ll either build a bed/storage platform or start installing the house batteries and inverter.

It’s a little disappointing, spending so much money right off the bat, but I know that eventually I’ll start saving more. At least, I hope so.

Honestly, the most difficult part so far (granted, still only 24 hours in) has been dealing with my own self-judgment. For all my talk to friends pointing out that people live in RVs, they live in boats, they even live in semi-trucks, so what’s so sketchy about a van… I drive around and I feel like a sleaze-bag. I feel vaguely guilty, like I’m cheating at life somehow.

I mean, is this some flight from “reality” or responsibility? Some adolescent fantasy that I should be embarrassed of? Sometimes it feels like it.

But then I ask myself why I decided to do this in the first place. Saving money is a big reason.(Jury’s still out on that one.) In itself, I thought living in a van would be an interesting experiment. And finally, I thought it would be a good way to more fully confront my anxiety issues, which mostly revolve around social situations and what other people are thinking about me.

Not having an apartment to hide in has already changed the game. The van is cozy enough at night, but I’m really not itching to spend all day in it, too. So I drive around, run errands, sit in the park, go to the gym — in short, I’m already spending way more time out in public, confronting my fears without any breaks.

And… it’s been fine, so far. I’m handling it just fine. It helps that today is also my first day without caffeine. I feel way calmer. In the past whenever I’ve tried to quit I’ve felt very deprived and frustrated. Today I feel slow and a little groggy, but I’m okay with it.

I think it’s deeper than the biochemistry. I’m consciously trying to shift to a more relaxed pace. It’s not like I’m sitting around waiting for “withdrawal” to end so I can get back to doing things exactly the way I used to (frantically). On a deeper level, I’ve decided that what I want is a slower pace, less expectation, less striving — not a jittery, scatter-brained caffeine high.

Take right now, for example. Normally I’d be dashing off this post at work, just trying to get it over with. There’s still an element of that, to be honest, but now I’m sitting at a picnic table in the park, looking out over the river. Just chilling.

Not that that makes for exciting reading, so I’ll shut up.

6 thoughts on “First Day of the Van Life

  1. Hello fellow houseless nomad! First of all, Velcro! (Unless you are in an area that gets very cold during the winter, then the glue holding the Velcro will deteriorate). Secondly, I´ve been hoboing through this world for quite some time now and that oh-so-sweet feeling of freedom never went away. I am excited to read more about your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I currently work in the field of Code Enforcement in a big city on the West Coast and unfortunately I am the one who is responsible for asking people who live in vans, rv’s and cars to move along. In the past I too have thought about living a life of a nomad filled with all of it’s sense of freedom and complications. I totally get it and really enjoy having conversations with many of the nomads I encounter. Most City’s have people like me as the general public doesn’t understand the concept of living this type of lifestyle and are even fearsome of not knowing the person living in the van around the corner. My best advice to you is too speak openly with people and let them know about the mission you are on and why you chose it. Eventually you will encounter a conversation with either a Code Enforcement Officer or Police Officer about living in a vehicle on public streets. I suggest moving the vehicle each day to a different location or even finding a friend who wouldn’t mind you parking on there land for a while. I wish you the best and hope you find all of the joys you set out to find and find great success in accomplishing your financial goals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the input. I’m a terrible liar anyway, so I’ve been upfront with coworkers and friends. When the time comes, I’ll extend that same honesty to police officers and concerned neighbors. I have 26 different places to park around town. I don’t pull in until after dark and I leave before dawn. So far, so good. Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am happy that you are blogging as I would have suggested keeping a journal of this adventure. Life really isn’t about some end result but rather about the ride. Enjoy it. Most people wouldn’t have the guts to make the decision you made although many have thought about it. Make this journey a positive one.

        Liked by 2 people

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