When Life Hands You a VW Bus
On May 2, 2018, we sold our 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon. Exactly 1 year and 2 month after we bought it. A bunch of renovations, adventures, and frustrations later. Many, many, many people asked "why did you buy this thing?" Below is the answer. I don't know when I wrote this. It could have been a month in, or it could have been two days before selling it. Who knows. Enjoy.
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I pretty much hate this bus. Why did I do this again?
Let me take you back.
Flatline is what I felt my life looked like. Not dead or even boring. But safe, predictable, and only moderately interesting. Nothing bold. Or even in italics.
I upped my lovely life in El Paso and my little family hauled to San Francisco. This was not only refreshing but necessary. It brought on a whole new sense of novelty and began an intense and ever-widening of my perspective.
And sitting there, in our little overpriced studio apartment in a heart of SF, I tapped Matt on the shoulder and said...I think I wanna give VanLife a try.
I think it'll give me the highs and lows I'm looking for.
I think it'll challenge me in ways that a career won't.
I think it'll help me dig and find aspects of myself that I haven't met yet.
In vulnerable truth, I want to be brought to tears of frustration or fear, and climb, claw, or create my way out.
As the months developed and my feelings evolved for this 60sqft life, I frequently found myself thinking...why did I choose this particular way to get to the peak of this mountain?
Part of it was random chance. I had seen these romantic van lifers on IG and the seed was planted. It took some time to germinate, but after a few months the small plant sprouted.
All it took was one mention to Matt. There was no going back.
Here we are today, living life in this house car. And what have I learned?
98% of your energy goes towards living. And by living what I mean is existing - the first 2 rungs of Maslow's hierarchy. What are we going to eat and do we have the supplies to prepare it? Do we need more groceries? (Tiny pantry = frequent TJ stops.) Do we have enough water? Do we need to shower? Where will we shower that is decent and won't turn this into a hotel hop? Where will we use the bathroom? Where are we going to park? Will it be safe? Will it be good for the dogs? Do they need a break from the road? Are they constipated? Are we constipated? Has it been a million years since we got our heart rate up?
All these things leave very little mental energy to think about much else... where our careers are going, what song I want to learn next on the piano, what we're going to do for the holidays. Every last calorie in that lemon tart toast is going to today's goals and today's goals only. And basic metabolic processes.
But it's not a bad thing. It's much like jumping into the ocean from a boat; the initial excitement of the splash settles and you look around at your new environment with wonder and a little bit of panic. Maybe you get the sense that you need air right away, that this place isn't for you. Maybe after a little while, it doesn't seem so bad. Either way, when you come up for air, you have a new sense of what the world means to you, and what you want out of it and out of yourself.
9 times of 10 I'm frustrated with that stupid thing. Of what it's done to our lives - it has provided an option. "Well, we could always stay in the bus..."
Sometimes I just want a nice hotel room with A/C. Sometimes I want to push this thing off a cliff. But you know what, most of the time...we use it. Because $15,000. Because we have no kids yet. Because it's actually really cozy. And I always sleep so well in it. Because our blood, sweat and tears are in the floors and walls and solar panel charger. Because sometimes I actually really love it.
Because it makes for a better adventure and gives life to the flatline.