First Night in the Van
In the days leading up to my first night in the van, I had a friend help me build my second bench, and I spent almost three days building and installing 28 inch by 28 inch drawers for underneath my bed. Building the drawers were a bit challenging due to their large size, and my zero experience, but that feat was nothing compared to installing them under the bed with ball-bearing slides. I am strong critical thinker, but I spent so much time scratching my head and doing fractions on my notepad. Many times, before accomplishing anything, I would go inside to “take a break.” I even painted a mandala on the wall, which was on the very bottom of my priority list, to avoid putting in the drawers. I think my biggest fear was that I would find that I had put the slides in the wrong place, or that my drawers didn’t fit at all and I would have to start all over.
After a week of breaks, painting, sanding, and thinking, I had finally fit my two large drawers, just perfectly into the space underneath my bed. May 25th had arrived. I was approximately half way done with the build (but who really knows) and I was ready for my first adventure in the van. I decided to stay local, as a tropical storm was on the horizon. My little sister said she was down to join me, and booked us a campsite at Jetty Park, about 45 minutes from my house. It was Memorial Day weekend, so we got the very last spot. We packed the fridge with beer, fruit, water and hummus, and my beautiful, prefect, amazing self-made drawers housed all our other gear. We made the bed, took a few pictures, and hit the road.
About 2 minutes before we hit our destination, a semi truck almost t-boned us. I was forced to slam on the brakes, and my precious drawers were forced from their slides and came crashing forward. Hannah and I just stared at each other, at a loss for words. We looked at the mess behind us, finally exhaled from our near-death experience and then started cracking up. At least 100 tiny metal balls were rolling around the back of the van, as they also escaped from the slides, which were lying mangled on the floor.
1 minute before we arrived at Jetty Park, Hannah went to roll up her window it was stuck down. I told her to leave it, as we just needed to GET THERE. We giggled the rest of the way there and Hannah went to check in while I started cleaning up the mess of the fallen drawers. Well, “there” happened to be directly in front of the office, next to the dumpster, squeezed in between several RVs. The sky was gray. There were no trees. The window would NOT ROLL UP. I tried to diagnosis the problem, and could see that the motor was still working, but that the glass had fallen from the position where the motor could push it up or down. To know any more, I would have to take the door panel off, which require tools, which didn’t make it with the beer and hummus. I had my Leatherman and that was all. Well actually I had ONE small trash bag, and JUST enough duct tape, to do what I was dreading to do, but what the impending rain required me to do. I was going to be a person who has a trash bag for a window.
I was tempted to turn back. My sister was down for whatever. We could leave or we could stay. We wanted to leave, but we needed to stay. I said, “when it starts raining, we’ll leave.” We cracked open a beer and didn’t bother locking the doors of my trash bag van, as we headed to take a walk on the beach. “No dogs allowed” didn’t stop us from going through the gate to reach the ocean, but something else did. There were mounds upon mounds of seaweed, with a smell so potent we had to switch the way we breathed. We turned around and somehow managed to giggle the whole way back.
It never did rain that night. The trash bag kept the mosquitos out. The fans kept us cool, but I didn’t keep them running all night because I was nervous to run my battery bank down too low. It was a rough nights sleep with Luca growling at every person or sound that passed. I was happy to have my sister’s company through the trials of the first night in the van. It worried me how much her presence helped me through, as I would be embarking on this journey alone. In the end, I had done what I said I was going to do: on May 25, I lived in the van.