363 days ago, I was giving away furniture, cramming my belongings into boxes, and, it should go without saying, freaking out.
Why? Because all of a sudden, I was a 20-something-year-old with a job, yes, a supportive network of family and friends, yes, but any sense of routine or normalcy? — absolutely not. The question of laundry became not a matter of “when” but “where.” Eating out wasn’t for special occasions anymore, but almost standard fare. While friends were off getting married and buying cars, I was now living out of mine. And though the idea of living out of my minivan had always appealed to me in the past, I was clueless as to what the reality of that lifestyle would actually entail.
There’s a lot of hype right now behind the “road life” movement. It’s trendy to be a dirtbag, cool to live in your van down by the river. But truth be told, road life isn’t all drip coffee and hipsters-in-flannel.
When someone asks where I’m based out of or what I do for a living, I typically get one of three responses. Some may scoff, ask when I’m going to get “a real job,” whatever that means, and dismiss my adventurous spirit as an act of laziness. Others admire my determination to roam free, yet only connect to my experience vicariously. But there are those who just get it. They get me, and more importantly, they get what it means to live on the road. It’s these people that keep me sane amid the uncertainty and assure me that (and yes, I’m quoting The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel here), “everything will be alright in the end. So if it is not alright, then it is not yet the end.”
As I hopped into the Jeep (provided by Brown Automotive Group) last week headed south for my first event of season two, Tuck Fest at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, I had a lot of time to reflect on my first year of road life. From day one there were wrong turns, long hours behind the wheel, lonely nights in towns I didn’t know. But as time went on, I didn’t get lost so much, the drives became my time to think, and I began to take quiet pride in flying solo. As I opened up to the challenges of road life, road life opened itself up to me. I discovered beautiful places outside and within and met some of my closest friends to date, many of whom just get it.
For the most part, I’m still that 20-something-year-old who dreams big then freaks out when those dreams come to fruition, but the fact of the matter is that ditching my apartment to live out of my car gave me an unexpected reality check on life, adventure, and the pursuit of the open road. Here’s to seeing what’s around the bend for season two!
Your car is not clean.
At least by most people’s standards. You may have just spent the entire weekend cleaning out the interior, but if you live out of your car, it’s going to look like you live out of your car, no matter how organized you think you are.
No. It can’t be easy.
If you wanted things to be easy, you wouldn’t have started living out of your car in the first place. So when your roof rack falls off while you’re driving, or you lose your keys for the upteenth time in a day, or you run out of stove fuel as you’re whipping up dinner 30-some miles from the nearest Walmart, well, that’s just part of it. Embrace the struggle — it makes for a good story.
GoogleMaps is not your best friend.
Spotify, however, most certainly is.
Homesickness is real.
The only cure for it, short of going home, is to find a Cracker Barrel, especially one in the South, where “hill” sounds like “heel,” the staff calls you “honey,” and the biscuits are free (if you act nice and tip well).
Holding your pee doesn’t make you stronger.
It actually makes you weaker, as in your bladder becomes a breeding ground for bacteria which can then cause infections throughout the body. And who wants that?
Laziness is measured in miles.
Like, how-many-miles-can-I-run-on-empty-before-I-absolutely-have-to-pull-over-and-get-gas lazy.
Fast food restaurants are good for nothing.
Except bathroom breaks and ice cream. And even then…
Gas station coffee isn’t that bad.
Said no one ever, unless you’re willing to suffer through the heartburn and/or diarrhea that ensues.
You are not invisible.
Like when you’re dancing behind the wheel (DBW) at a stoplight. People see you.
The saying “patience is a virtue” exists for a reason.
Sometimes you’re the driver zipping down backroads like a local, sometimes you’re the out-of-towner going 25 in a 55 and making false turns three times before you actually turn. Road rage does nothing…except make your face red.
Sleep is not overrated.
Sleeping stuffed under your steering wheel on the side of a busy highway is. So get those ZZZzzzs and sleep before you drive!