They say, “When you run out of time you’re done.” I wasn’t done. It was time to leave.
Maybe I should start closer to the beginning. Where do you start, as each step in life moves you along towards the next step and the next until you realize you are on a different road you thought you were on. I reached a fork and hesitated. Where do I go now or do I go at all?
I was living in a condo in Florida with a pool, golf course, tennis and pickle ball courts, shuffle ball and bocce ball, a clubhouse. Summer camp for adults. I didn’t use any of those and after the last hurricane, the insurance company raised the rates, the condo fees went up and it was time to go.
I looked at all kind of properties and my imagination grew. A tiny house – in the country – near state parks and national forests, near kayaking, hiking and bicycle trails. Every time I found a good spot, my friends questioned whether I would be happy living in that setting permanently. I did a bit of research and decided they might be right.
A middle-of-the-night epiphany – I knew what I wanted to do – get a van, fix it into a camper and travel around to different places. I could hike and bike and kayak, but move to a new area when the spirit moved me. That day my senior pass to the National Parks system (applied for 4 months previously) arrived in the mail! The spirit spoke!
I underestimated how much work was involved in building out a van to make into a home. I first had to learn what was needed, learn what I didn’t know and decide, out of all the advice and models, what to do, what to buy, how to proceed. Of course I also had to re-do things after I made mistakes… that’s how you learn, right?
I also underestimated how long it would take to paint and fix up the condo for sale. That hurricane damaged the inside when the roofing was torn off. The condo sale is a story for another chapter.
The condo sold and I was cleaning up and moving into the van, but the van wasn’t finished. I had a tent I called “the garage” for the first few weeks. When you live in less than 60 square feet everything must have a place – be ship-shape, except when you don’t have shelves or cabinets to put anything away. The cabinet doors were finished in one campsite, the shelving cut and installed in another. Months later it still isn’t finished, but I no longer need “the garage”.
I was hoping the tiny house, in this case on wheels, would reduce my “carbon footprint”. My van’s interior runs on solar, but I still drive it places. I have to buy smaller portions of food, increasing the packaging, but I do use less of everything and recycle. I think I have become more aware – aware of how much water I use and how much garbage I produce.
And driving – when I was traveling around the world, I discovered I didn’t like hotels or restaurants. Now I live in a van I don’t like driving! Since driving anywhere involves securing everything before taking off, I find I plan ahead and drive less often. I stay in one place longer. I don’t feel I have to rush all over trying to see everything. I’m not a “bucket list” person. Staying awhile gives you time to explore and make friends. I’ve met some interesting people.
I miss steady cell service, but if it means going for a walk or listening to the forest instead of mindlessly watching tv, I guess I’m on my way to living more “deliberately,” as Theroux put it. So I’m not done, but I’m on my way.