Tuesday, September 30, 2008

over the mountain

the proud buck and doe wink at me from the bar-top as i swallow another local lager, the only beer i can drink in these parts. my brother walks by as i'm laughing at something crystal said, he there to brush up his pool game because the league is starting this week. there is no other place i feel as comfortable, even though to those who know me best it would seem an odd place to find me.
later in the night we're driving to dubois, a town just 20 miles away, and as we pass 18 wheelers on the highway i think i could be 19 again, freewheeling out of control, no seatbelt, no caution, no worries. my girls in the car, all of us happy to be together, not much makeup, no high heels, no pretense or judgment, this is what it's like in the small town when you go way back. for a few hours we are invincible, inseparable, the center of the world.
the fog is familiar, the deer on the side of the road still haven't learned to stay away. the trees are beginning to show their colors, one last beautiful attempt to revel in pleasant temperatures before the wicked winter makes them feel like dying. it really is the same after all this time. like a puffy picture on a sweatshirt, yes, this is the scene we see every day.
we bravely try to have fun on a monday, though the steelers are playing and it's tough to draw attention away from the tv, we manage to get a bucket of beers delivered to our table from a group of hopefuls. but it would take more than that to distract us from our conversations. i'm in the mix of a hometown heart to heart and i wouldn't miss it...well, not for those guys anyway. the small town mind is easily turned toward codependency, and it takes a certain type to escape it either by strength of will, sheer social intelligence, or exposure to outside influences. i myself feel the latter is what saved me, and am grateful.
i made it home, i smell like smoke, and i'm glad i'm single.

Monday, September 29, 2008

getting moving

i bought my ticket for the islands. november 2nd! i am happy to be where i am for now, and i'll be happy to pack up and leave when october is done. i've had nothing but fun since i got here, spent the last weekend with my best friend in lancaster where he was performing in "oklahoma", and rounded out sunday with a few beers in the company of my brother and sister in law. when i am around my actor friends who are performing, i get envious of their lives, i think about what would have happened if i pursued my acting career. i wonder if i will someday? there are so many things to do in life, how to choose which ones i want has always been my most difficult problem. i am very good at starting things, not so hot on the follow through.
my legs are very tired from running and biking today. i've been very active since i got here, there's just no need to drive in this tiny town, nothing is more than a few miles away. i got on my mom's scale when i first arrived and was shocked at the number that appeared. there's no two ways about it, my age is making it harder to stay fit. this is what people mean when they say getting old is hell. so it's really for real time to make activity a part of daily life. and stop eating sugar!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

journey to the place i was conceived

my chicago visit was a raging success, my dear friends have retained their charms and i was introduced to the characters in their lives who i'd only heard about. approval on all counts! i am wistful at the thought that i could join them and be a part of those beautiful people's lives. i am honored to be featured as a special guest star.
i arrived in pennsylvania late last night, and here i sit at my parent's house clicking away on the old keyboard that sounds like a typewriter. everything is different here, though rampantly familiar, like the way the water feels on my head in the shower, i know this place deeply and my past is suddenly jammed into my present. i haven't seen my brother yet, or any of my friends, but i am so very excited to get back into their worlds. in this town i can feel famous, every pair of feet i meet a possible intersection of history and future.
i decided that in order to make the most of my time here, and cause the least conflict, a moratorium on political and religious discussions with my parents must be put in place. i am of the opinion that everyone is entitled to their views, but religion and politics have little importance in my life, and i don't like to argue about them. the stacks of books in this house reveal the current of religious fervor, and the emails my mom sends are reliably links to right wing rants, so it's a difficult task to avoid these subjects, but i'm going to try for my sanity. in my adulthood, i've come to the realization that i just don't enjoy arguing, and i believe this to be a reaction to my upbringing. some people love to debate, i do not. present me all sides of the story and let me decide, that's much more my speed.
in travel news: the van was an absolute dream to drive across the country, i had zero problems, just happy miles passing by. i don't care if i don't see another interstate for a while, and i'm pleased to be getting off the road food habit, but all in all it was a successful journey wrought with discovery and reflection. ahh.

Monday, September 22, 2008

best and worst

before i left santa fe, a reporter contacted me through this blog and asked me for an interview. he was a former and future vandweller and wanted to do a story on the viability or maybe just the reality of this lifestyle. talking to him helped me articulate why i'm doing this and what this way of life has given to me and taken from me.
what's the best part of vandwelling? the ability to live on very little money, go wherever i please, and not have any financial commitments. i chose to stay in one place for a while in order to clear up my debt, and now that it is gone, i feel more possibility in my life than ever before. being on the road and not worrying about where i'm going to stay at night, or where i will live when i get where i'm going is a huge difference. i never needed to worry anyway, but the van life has opened my eyes to how easy it is just to exist.
what's the worst part of vandwelling? the lack of a bathtub. i sure do love 'em. and the larger context they usually are a part of like a house, a kitchen, a garden, a spot on the earth. i do miss these things and living in my van has not provided much in the way of entertaining opportunities for guests, not many homecooked meals, definitely no baths. but this con is also a plus in that i am able to have a savings account for the first time in my life which i believe may translate to owning some land and a house someday. so perhaps i'm closer than ever to actualizing my home based dreams.
there are many other pros and cons like--meeting people has been easier, but dating has been rough. paying bills is a breeze, but having an address has been a challenge. some minds have opened when they found out about me, some people have written me off.
all things considered, i don't regret a minute of this adventure. the reporter asked me if i plan to continue living in my van in the future. i said that although i will surely live in an apartment or house at times, i will come back to van life when i need or want to, and now that i've done it for this long, i know how easy it is. that can't be forgotten.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

i survived

the long long road between santa fe and chicago was paved with jesus signs, country stations, and dirty bathrooms. there is no espresso between santa fe and oklahoma city, and even when you get there, they don't know how to make it. the midwest is a different world, a world where things i like are scarce, and people i feel comfortable around are scarcer. i stopped over in kansas city for dinner with my aunt and uncle, one of the best meals i've had on the road and certainly the most entertaining conversation. i do not belong in the midwest. i'm sure there are lovely things about it that i'd get to know if i had to, but i don't think i'll ever choose to live there. i usually like to take my time on the road, get a little local flavor, but after a few detours on rt 66, i found i just wanted to get to chicago as fast as i could. the tired tourist trinket market on that road is depressing.
now i'm in chicago with some of my very best friends remembering our college insanities. i'm sure glad they're the only ones who know about all that nonsense, it's pretty embarrasing. also hilarious. we drank bubbly and rehashed the past, updated each other on the present, and made invitations for the future. this is fun.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

and so i travel on

i awoke from a bittersweet dream to a man knocking on the door, then entering with a bag in his hand.  he saw me and said hello, not really surprised.  he belongs here i thought.  tess woke up and took his gifts of burrito and coffee, bid him good morning, and he left.  
it's time to go, i slept too late, the light is bright and clear.  i pull on last night's clothes, brush my teeth while she does the dishes and adopt the coffee as my travel mate.  leaving my friends, the people who know and still love me, today i venture out into the southwest, through NM and TX as far as i can get.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

santa fe, good ole santa fe

it's really happening. i'm here in the old coffee shop i used to love, having completed the first leg of my roadtrip. not much has changed since i was here last, at least not at first glance. tess, luis, sophia, chris and i went out last night and had dinner at the chama, then drinks and revelry at the catamount, then because i can't leave well enough alone and neither can tess, we said goodnight to our tired friends, went dancing at willies and ended up with two men on our arms. how i managed to find hottest blackest richest man in santa fe remains a mystery, but this place is charmed you know.
another amazing thing about last night? we had a run in with the cops in which they were actually helpful. we were hanging out in the van across the street from the bar as it was closing and santa fe's finest pulled up behind us, approached with flashlights, and asked us if we were having trouble with the van. i said no, i wasn't going to drive yet. the officer (who was pretty cute) told me he thought it best if i just left the van there for the night because otherwise they'd follow me and pull me over. he was right, i had no business driving, i had to give him that. the fact that he was interested in not getting me in trouble was refreshing. i thanked him, and we set off on foot for a while.
i slept in the van last night in downtown santa fe and it was very peaceful. this place is different in all ways than denver. i love it so much, i sang it a song this morning. and so it remains the only place i've considered home. i will be back someday...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

the plan revealed

it feels like i have giant weights on my shoulders keeping me from doing anything. i've accomplished so little in the last week, i'm ashamed of myself. even though everything is fairly good and going according to plan, i feel like shit. i don't know if it's the seasonal change or just the stress of moving and tying up loose ends, but nothing seems worthwhile. my best times are at work when i know the job i have to do and i have people to talk to while i do it. i never used to be like this. i always liked my time alone and was productive in it. i guess i'm just in a gloomy spell.
meanwhile, i think it's time to reveal my plan for winter. some of my loudmouth friends have already spilled the beans, so i see no point in keeping it under wraps anymore. after my next great american roadtrip, i'm hopping on a plane with freyja and landing on a caribbean island. yes, i do know where i'm landing, but i may not stay there, so suffice it to say i'll be somewhere in the caribbean for winter 08-09. i have a friend from denver who is moving there too and will be there ahead of me so i will have a place to stay when i arrive. i have no idea what i'll do once i'm there. this is my gift to myself after 30 years of harsh winters, and 7 months of vandwelling.

Friday, September 12, 2008

entering exiting

today is the birthday of the newest member of my clan--shannon and george had a baby girl today! perfect, healthy and luckily a virgo. seems like all my friends either have kids, are pregnant, or intend to be soon. guess that's normal. i wish i could be there to see her little face. she is not named yet...might i suggest lydia as an enduringly beautiful title for a lass? someone ought to name their kid after me, that's for sure.
there are joys and woes that come with leaving, and i understand now why some people choose not to say goodbye. it's hard when everyday is filled with friends and acquaintances expressing their disappointment and sadness at my leaving. i feel lucky to have this problem, i know it means i'm well loved, but the depression is still lurking in the corners of every waking hour. it's the time of year too, i always get sad when fall comes. i haven't accomplished much in the way of packing my van this week. i'll be doing it all last minute as usual.
good news on the kitty--she doesn't have stones. it looked that way in the x ray, but turns out they were calcifications on her ovarian stumps, whatever that means. so she just has a nasty urinary infection again. this time she's on a broad spectrum antibiotic, which i don't like, but hey it's better than surgery.
i had the good fortune to reconnect with one my very dear friends, kodiak, who i haven't seen in over a year. he breezed into town just in time to catch me, and being around him was a reminder of the lessons i learned with him--mostly that a healthy relationship consists largely of respect, communication, and self-knowledge. we truly appreciate each other and that is so refreshing. i need more people like him in my life.

Monday, September 8, 2008

last minute affairs

when i set my leaving date, things always get interesting. last night i went to dinner with bob, a customer from the restaurant who really likes me and the rest of the staff. two of my servers, my boss and his girlfriend went also and we drank two magnums of sake, ate countless plates of sushi and sashimi, and finished up with the most delicious banana cream pie i've ever had. bob picked up the tab which was well over 500 dollars. pretty decadent treatment for a "homeless" girl. i knew he had sort of a crush on me, so i expected him to make a move at the end of the night which he did. we sat in my van and i told him my freedomvan story (though i didn't tell him about this blog), and he expressed how envious of my life he was. we discussed how anyone can have what i have--freedom from debt, no obligations, ability to travel wherever and whenever they want, they just have to either be very rich or give up all their possessions and live in a van for a while. when he made his move, i gently rebuffed him and he retreated elegantly. he is quite a gentleman after all, and only slightly younger than my father.
as i was driving home, i decided to stop at this bar i like to write letters in sometimes because one of the bartenders is rather attractive. he was there, working the door for the "blues jam" in his motorcycle jacket and heavy boots, his careless just barely mohawk resting perfectly atop his boyish face. i've been known to fall for this type, cue the ex-boyfriend slideshow. the scottish guy was also there in full garb--kilt and all. this fellow likes to chase me around, giving me high fives and buying me drinks. i intended on just one, but had two and a half by the time it was all said and done. i talked to the cute one when i could, and learned that he'd just broken up with his girlfriend and was back on his dad's couch. he must've seen something in my eyes when he revealed that information and the flirtation began in earnest. i'm only here for one more week. he's newly single. might as well make the best of it. for the second time that night, a gentleman walked me to my van, but this time i welcomed his advance. a short series of kisses preceded a phone number exchange, and i drove home on a cloud. not bad for a sunday...
today i woke up reluctantly to a cold and cloudy monday. not my favorite, to say the least. i've been rather depressed all day, just not sure how to proceed with getting all this crap taken care of. i made a commitment to take all the clothes i'm getting rid of to buffalo exchange, take the books to capitol books, take everything they don't take to the salvation army. i reorganized my van so that my scooter can fit inside for the trip. and now i'm stalling at the coffee shop for a while. david bowie is making it better.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

wrapping up

my friends are the cutest. something about sailing away forever makes them love me more. maybe this is why i leave so much. since i announced my plan to leave denver in less than 2 weeks, i've heard from friends almost daily, many of which i haven't seen in years. i'll be going to santa fe, that little city i love, first to see the dear friends i made during massage school, and then heading toward chicago to see my college friends. i miss them so much! tonight the two gemini twins i got into all sorts of trouble with left me a voicemail which made me laugh out loud on the street while i was wrapping up my tattered belongings and lashing them to my scooter.
my friend bruce, the 8-track guy, gave me the most awesome portable 8-track player i've ever seen today. it looks like swiss cheese. he didn't want me to be in my winter home without a way to listen to my collection. i was showing it off today at work, just beaming and dancing around, but no one really cared. i don't think most people see the coolness of 8-tracks.
freyja had a relapse of urinary troubles, and i took her to the vet today. seems she's got two stones in her ureter that are causing infection and pain. i got her tested to the tune of 440 dollars and i await the results to see what i'm supposed to do. i'm uncertain what the right path will be, as i cannot afford an expensive surgery. i'm scared. whatever happens, she's coming with me, and i'll do what is in my power to make her comfortable. i wonder if my lifestyle is too stressful for her?
in one week, i'll be done with my job. i got my life insurance check which allowed me to pay off all my credit cards and have a few thousand dollars in savings. i've arrived at the first goal of freedomvan! this plan actually worked. i'm amazed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

two weeks notice

i get nervous about quitting jobs, i don't know why. perhaps it's a carryover from my work ethic, and saying "i'm quitting" doesn't fit in my mind. but, on occasion, it must be done, and i did it today. mister bossy pants was real nice about it and started drinking shortly after i told him. it turned out to be a fun night filled with bottles of wine, jokes, stories, and the beginning of the good bye process. i will miss this place, i have had fun here, and there are things i love that i'm leaving behind. i've been sort of melancholy today thinking of the paths i'm eliminating, and it's good to recognize their merit. soon enough i'll be excited about my winter plan...soon enough i will reveal it in all it's glory.