My life these days feels like a vacation. A giant camping trip with no destination in mind and no end in sight.
As of today, I’ve been living on the road in my beat-up RV for a full month. The novelty definitely hasn’t worn off. Instead, so many of the thrills and fears that I felt when I first set off on this adventure now seem sharper, bigger, more complex. I’m learning that things like solitude and adventure don’t have upper or lower limits. They’re more like fountains of infinite depth. It’s always possible to kick things up a notch. To go deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.
I’ve always been a heavy dreamer, but lately my dreams have become extraordinarily vivid. I’m sure it’s because this trip has altered my state of mind, but I think it also might have something to do with the fact that I gave up marijuana, cold turkey, after years of smoking pot quite regularly. (Since I’m fascinated by the topic of addiction, I’m sure I’ll write more about that later.) The funny thing is that even my most fantastical dreams don’t seem nearly as bizarre as the reality I wake up to every morning.
In the opening lines of a book called Kon-Tiki (which, randomly, I recently yanked from the shelf at a public library) the narrator is sitting on a raft in the Pacific, journaling, wondering how on Earth he ended up in such a strange situation. To a certain, less-extreme extent, I know the feeling. I too have been filling up journals, and so much of it is just Whoa. Here I am. Still. On this RV. My home. This is my life.
I have a lot of things to do today, but also I have nothing to do today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. Or any day after that. Forever. I have no calendar, no commitments, no obligations, and no bothersome technology. It’s a bit crazy and really, really fun.
Correction: I actually do have a calendar. I’m looking at it right now. It’s one of those free, monthly wall calendars from the Nature Conservancy, and it hangs between the propane stove and the door to the “bathroom” which functions more as a general use sealed-off bad-smell chamber, where sweaty clothes can hang. The image for the month of May is a sprawling field of lavendar, a wash of bright purple and green against a blue-grey sky. Sometimes I look at it for five, ten minutes. I’m not in a rush to get to June, but I did peek ahead and I know what I’m in for: an underwater scene! Blue, teal, green, turquoise. Two sea lions darting around a column of kelp. I could totally be imagining this, but I think that my spartan way of living allows for a much deeper connection with the few things I own and a significantly heightened sensitivity to colors, light, smells and sound. Put simply: greater awareness. I know my dishtowel in great detail, a small part where the stitching seems irregular.
I sleep like a rock. For the most part, I’m up with the sun and down with the sun. And since the RV doesn’t have climate control, heat or AC, I enjoy the real-world temperature and humidity all day every day and all night every night. Spring in Ohio feels more like whiplash between winter and summer; I keep having to go back and forth between Carhartt and longjohns to shorts and sandals. But I’m definitely not complaining. It’s been pretty easy to stay comfortable by layering and un-layering blankets and clothes, and it helps that my bed is the best bed in the history of the world – firm, soft, and huge – and that I grabbed a half-dozen of those cheap “Mexican” blankets before hitting the road. The bed is actually just a few inches of cushion on a hard, flat surface, but just above my head and feet are sliding screened windows which allow for complete cross-ventilation and the overall effect is straight-up divine. Nature is a drug. A medicine. Life.
The camper is riddled with leaks, but I’m grateful that the bed has so far remained dry. The leaks used to peeve me, but I’ve made peace with outside coming in just as all things inside will eventually go out. It’s a metaphor for, well, everything I guess. The circle of life. It was, however, quite jarring when I recently realized that I was getting ready to sleep under a wide open square-shaped hole in the ceiling. My first thought: Man, these stars are wonderful. My second thought: Wait, why can I see the stars right now? My third thought: Holy shit, I lost my skylight on the road today, probably a hundred miles away. My fourth, fifth and sixth thoughts involves many more expletives until I eventually found a piece of plywood near an abandoned cabin only a few hundred yards from where I was boondocking. It poured rain that night, but the plywood did the trick. A few days later I had a tarp and a few days after that I got an even better piece of plywood and cut it down to size. Problem solved. I had a skylight, and then I didn’t, but I was never without a roof, in some form.