Vanna's insides

Vanna's insides

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Lies We Tell

I resent having to lie.

I resent the pity/confusion/judgement that comes from certain mindsets around living in a van.

I resent the need for craftiness and dishonesty.  And that is not because I feel everyone has the right to know the absolute truth about my life and how I choose to lead it, but having to mislead or lie when I don't necessarily feel free to do otherwise feels like a weight or burden that I begrudge having to take on.

Or maybe that's just a cop out?  Maybe the only result of transparency would be people's judgments, and maybe I'm just afraid of disappointing some?  Afraid of not meeting people's expectations?

I'm not used to compartmentalizing.  So needing to be a slightly different version of myself at my place of business does not come naturally.  Developing friendships and still not being ready to open up about where/how I live is a strain for me at this time in my life.  I'm determining that secrets are a sure way of opening yourself up to loneliness.

My recent (tho, uneventful) run-in with the Police, has reminded me of the need to be discreet.  And discretion is not something I've ever had much of a knack for.  I am also becoming more and more aware that my lack of hassles through this experience is, I'm sure, largely due to my position of privilege--young, white, able-bodied female who can afford to dress the part of a corporate professional.  People don't question my appearance in their neighborhoods, cops believe my story without question, coffee shops never question me using their facilities regardless of whether or not I've purchased anything.

I do hope to continue being as lucky as I have been; but even if my luck should change, I will still be grateful for blessings I've experienced over the past year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Excuse me, ma'am...

Nine months in...
And last night I had my first 'for real' late night visitor...

At about 11:30, I'd just settled down to sleep when my interior lit up from another vehicle's headlights.

The past couple of nights, I've been parking near my gym in order to avoid the extra drive in the morning. The location has meant slightly more traffic and less parked cars near by (making me a tad more conspicuous).

I popped my head up and, sure enough, an officer of the law with flashlight in hand, was just peering in my window.  He had been driving by and saw the interior lights switch off with no one exiting or entering the car.  He came over to investigate whether or not the vehicle was being broken into (where was he the night of July the 2nd?  I know.  I was wondering the same thing).

The windows were open an inch or two, so we conversed through the gap (well lit by the street lights and his flashlight) and I was able to avoid turning the car on or opening the doors which would have turned on the interior lights and illuminated just how comfortable I was in the van.  He asked for my drivers' license (which states my address as just a couple of streets over) and I offered up my vehicle insurance voluntarily.

I explained that I'd locked myself out of my apartment and my roommate was not home until tomorrow; thus I was spending the one night in the van.  When he posed the obvious question as to the whereabouts of my landlord, I mumbled like a moron about it being late and not wanting to bother him.  Sheepishly I said, "I'm aware I'm not supposed to be sleeping on the street," and he was incredibly gracious in saying, "I'm not concerned in the least, your circumstances are clearly temporary."

The whole thing was a little jarring.  It left my heart racing a little bit afterwards even though there was no threat and, as stupid as it sounds, I hated lying to him--he called me "ma'am" and everything.

I suppose I'd begun to take the whole need for stealth for granted since I've never been pest-free up to now.  The whole thing was best case scenario, it would have been much worse had he shown up 10 minutes prior and caught me peeing in my trusty yogurt container.  And, luckily, I don't believe he saw Quinn; who, it would seem, didn't deem the interruption important enough to rise from her slumber.

When initially researching the lifestyle, one suggestion online had been to ready oneself in an alternate locale to the one you decide to hunker down for the night at.  Last night I was reading in bed for several minutes before shutting the internal lights off which is unwise (even with the windows covered) if not looking to attract attention.  I will not be risking a second night visit from Officer Joe, I'll be heading back to the neighborhoods that have offered more shelter in terms of vehicles to disappear among.

Sleep tight, folks!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is this the end?

I thought that perhaps the time had come, that maybe the sun was setting on my life as a van dweller--all last week I was looking at apartments, drawing up budgets, planning for stability; however, I am so happy to say, I am recommitting to the lifestyle of transient.

I think the idea for stability stemmed from the steady employment I've found for myself.  And without really sitting with myself, I assumed the next step was an apartment.  But when I moved into the van, I made a point of telling people (those I chose to share my situation with) that this was not a decision made under duress.  I come from an incredible life of privilege, and by no means should anyone feel concern or guilt or pity for me.  To leave it now would feel hypocritical, yes, but mostly, I genuinely like this way of life.

A definite push in the direction of leasing an apartment has been that I've been house-sitting on and off for the past two months and have only been in the van intermittently throughout the summer.  This naturally makes routine difficult when I'm staying somewhere new every other week, and it's been hard not to fall into a state of lethargy when given the opportunity.  All of a sudden, I had a couch to zone out to NetFlicks on, or a house that allowed me to stay in and away from the world for days at a time.  I hadn't realized how important van life has been to the development of so many of my new and healthy habits--going to bed and waking up earlier, never drinking more than would allow me to drive safely, making use of each and every one of my days.

This morning was the first morning in what felt like quite a while that I rose in the van and then prepared for work at the YMCA.  It was nice and refreshing.  I feel an independance again that I'd lost temporarily in my reliance on other people's generosity and homes.  So much kindness has surrounded me this summer; the reprieve has been glorious.  I do believe I am ready return to the Van Life with a renewed energy and joy.

My reliable friend Vanna, which I paid a mere $1000 for back in January is still running as smoothly as ever (knock wood), and I have a feeling this is a one time deal for me, so why rush to its completion before a natural conclusion is able to occur?

So here is to the new season, and a renewed sense of appreciation.  Let the journey continue.  Thank you for reading this far, friends.