When Life Has Other Plans
The Move to Full Time #Vanlife
One year ago this month my life changed forever. Life is like that. One moment you’re headed down a manicured, well-groomed path. The birds are chirping a happy, welcoming melody. Your upturned face warms with the dappled glow of afternoon sunlight twisting through the trees. Glowing leaves dance to the birdsong and the air is palpable, heavily laden with promise.
So magical is the moment that you lose track of time. Maybe you’re enjoying the wonders of nature, maybe you’ve hopped down a rabbit hole of thoughts. Whatever the reason, and maybe there’s no reason at all, you accidentally turn down a different path. One that is narrow and unmaintained. The ground is strewn with decaying leaves, not a bed of supple grass. Instead of fragrant flowers lining your way, dense walls of poison oak tower high overhead. Heavy rain-clouds inch their way toward the sun threatening to block all illumination from the landscape. Once fertile ground, now barren. A cold breeze shifts, gusting through the forest, chilling you straight to the bone. One moment you were basked in glorious sunlight and the next you’re shivering, with chattering teeth, drenched in a downpour of cold, cold rain. And everywhere you look, is gray.
A challenge. For whatever reason, you’ve hit a snag on your path. Or a bump, or a hill, or a moat, or an ocean. You can jump over it, whatever it is. You can scale one side and climb down the other. You can swim across it. But the only certainty is that you must keep going.
One year ago this month something changed in my life. And that change set me on a new trajectory that will, in turn, change the rest of my life forever.
Ever since I was as young or as old as I can remember, even before there was the term digital nomad, I just wanted to travel. And I did, as often as I could, mostly while working two full time jobs. My life for the past 40 years was to work in order to sustain my wanderlust. But it was never enough. I could never afford to travel long enough not because of the costs associated in traveling, there are many ways around that, no it was because I could never stay away from work for longer than a few weeks. Although for my last trip, I eked out six. But even six wasn’t long enough. Over the years I’ve had four careers, always an entrepreneur. But this last career tied me too a brick and mortar where people relied on me. If I was gone on vacation, there was no one else to help them.
And still I traveled when I could and worked the rest of the time. I won’t go into my long and sordid dating past here, but one detail applies to the telling of this tale. I had a partner a year ago, and I really thought they could be “the one”. Caveat: I don’t actually believe in “the one”, but it’s something people can relate to if I say it. I thought this relationship could stand the tests of time. But when the pandemic hit and I got some news that I may lose my acupuncture practice, I turned to my partner for support. I needed someone close to me to be emotionally available, emotionally responsive. But this person was incapable. Maybe it was the timing or maybe they were never capable of emotional support when life takes a different path. I don’t know.
In trying to make this last relationship work, I put my partner first (after myself). And in doing so, when I thought I was going to lose my career (because of Covid) and thus my apartment, I posited moving closer to him. I could leave my one bedroom for a studio and throw myself into my second full time job, writing novels. I started writing in 2016 and published eleven novels in a little under two years. While I burnt out from the pace, my love of writing never ceased and I’ve written several more novels over the past few years. Writing full time has always been a dream.
We spent a weekend together, my partner and I, hashing out options. I went home on a Monday and Tuesday morning I woke up to an email from him asking for “space until I figured out what I was doing with my life”. I don’t remember my exact reaction, but I’m sure I either laughed extremely loudly alone in my apartment, or screamed extremely loudly. Partnerships are not what happens when everything in peoples lives are going smoothly. Partnerships and relationships are forged from every part of life. A partner stands by you when you are hurting or going through the muck, or sick. At the time it was painful but in retrospect I have this person to thank for setting the rest of my life on an entirely new trajectory.
Whether it’s my constitution or a survival mechanism, I turn things around and look at the bright side. After I peeled myself off the couch where I spent a week in depression, I made other plans. It was not an easy road, this past year. For anyone. I doubled up on my job, I worked through much of the pandemic and I saved money.
In two months, I am moving into a van full time.
When I first started my website, blog and podcast, An Unknown Adventure, it was to talk about and document the process. Not just for myself, but to help others that are thinking about doing something like this. Over the past year that has evolved as well. The podcast turned into an interview platform, which I am enjoying. I focused on people who have achieved their dreams no matter what they are and no matter how old or infirm they are. I have interviewed two dozen people who have all touched and enriched my life in many ways. But along that way I lost my initial plan of documenting the process. Now that I am two months away from the goal that sprouted in June 2020, I’m ready to blog here about the process for the next couple months.
It’s important to share this information because I want to provide value and help others by talking about the good, the bad, and the beautiful.