VANishing: My summer of slacking on the road
It’s 7AM in San Luis Obispo. I have parked my 1989 Toyota VanWagon next to a Starbucks to mooch their wifi. A few minutes earlier I barely avoided pissing myself, but found sweet relief at a Jack In the Box. It was close. I was tempted to piss outside seeing no one was up yet, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it because I passed out in an affluent neighborhood. I got paranoid. My back hurts. Because the nicest neighborhoods are almost always built on the land with the least geologic/seismic stability I slept at an extreme slope. My body kept slipping forward off my newly constructed bed. At least it was better than the way I was doing it which was sleeping on the floor with my head jammed between the passenger seats. Regardless I always sleep like a baby in the van. Could it be because it mimics a womb? These minor complications are the little bits and pieces of reality I didn’t anticipate when I embarked on my latest stupid experiment.
For the past couple months, with intermittent stops at my parent’s house, I’ve been cruising around Southern California and the Central Coast in my van with an incredibly limited amount of money. My madness is fueled by a fascination with the writings of Jack Kerouac, the songs of Woody Guthrie, and the aesthetics of “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski. Take note these are all narratives of the masculine persuasion. How few women have ever dared? Or are there many who’ve also boldly taken on this lonesome experiment, but go unsung. I’m no gypsy. I have no caravan to roll with. It is a solo pursuit.
Other versions of this post delved into the emotions felt throughout this stupidity. The executive decision was to keep the emotional claptrap to a minimum. Let’s just say I’ve felt lots of lust, some degree of infatuation, even less love and loss, betrayal, belittlement, misogyny, empowerment, camaraderie, and a whole lot of loneliness. Every fucking day could be a blog post. I’ve partied a lot, woken up in stranger’s houses, been kicked out of places, and spent a whole lot of time in the ocean. There’s a lot of stories that could be told, but instead I want to focus on the inside of my van.
This is my refrigerator. Along with my backpacking stove I call this my kitchen. It’s all a pain in the ass. I’ve probably spent over $30 on block ice. Food still goes bad. It’s too fucking hot. Because this set up is a pain in the ass, I usually end up eating hastily thrown together lavash wraps. Friends have thankfully let me make use of their kitchens. In a tight pinch I also have resorted to eating dumpstered donuts. A bag of dumpstered donuts is a blessing and a curse.
This is my bed. My friend and I built it out of some plywood and 2×4’s. We measured no times and cut twice. Think that’s how you’re supposed to do it. Upon installation one of the legs snapped off. I also forgot to put legs on the far end of the bed so it has to be propped up by my wardrobe. It’s definitely a work in progress and will take on multiple permutations until it is in it’s final state. Hopefully before then I don’t impale myself on a jagged piece of wood while I sleep. The van’s shaggin’ wagon status has been revoked. Nothing wild can be done on this precarious construction. Underneath my towel and sleeping bag I’ve got a hand-me-down thermarest. Thankful for the donation because sleeping on the bare floor of the van was not the most comfortable experience.
This is my wardrobe. Better than a walk-in closet. I’ve got a nice selection of outfits in here… except my friend did just tell me I need to dress better. Perhaps I stopped caring in my pursuit of simplification. Yoga pants and sweatshirts forever.
This is what lunchtime looks like. I loiter at a public park, set up my backpacking stove, and make culinary magic happen. I blast some jams from my epic van stereo system. Today’s selection was Killer Mike. Parks and beaches become my living room. I can only chill in the van if the back door is open.
Despite all the emotional, physical, and financial burdens I really am seeing and experiencing a lot of shit. Here’s a sampling of the past few days.