Go, Van, Go!

It doesn’t matter how ready I am—emotionally, psychologically, spiritually—there are some things that I need to wait to be ready for me. Time, for one thing, ticks at the same pace, no matter how much I pick up my own. I may be ready to leave in May, but there are obligations that are set up along the timeline that need to be honored and cannot be rushed. That said, time and I have reached somewhat of an understanding, like two friends who have fallen out of favor but run in the same circle, or a couple who’s broken up but lives in the same small town. We both do our thing, and whenever time and I run into each other, we’re cordial.

Less fraternizing, however, is the Ford E-150 van parked outside our house. I love the van. I’ve slept, changed clothes, read, eaten, and decompressed in its bed. Evan and I have taken the van camping and found refuge during a sudden overnight storm that left our tenting friends soaked and windblown. After bike races, it’s the van’s curtained chambers where I’ve changed back into civilian clothes, happy to not have to do the behind-the-car-door towel change that just barely works at covering my ample buns. It’s a great, powerful, fun machine that really feels like its taking you somewhere exciting. Even taking it to the hardware store to get wood for our deck feels like *just maybe* we’ll decide to keep on driving, past the rusted out mills and river lookouts along Rt. 837, past the train tracks and roadside ice cream stands, past the kudzu that’s overtaken the southwestern Pennsylvania wilderness like a cancer, past the coke plant and blast furnace and new money developments. Of course, we head home, but the dream is sparked in that heavy engine at the turn-key.

We’ve been talking about building out the inside of the van into a living space, and alternately considering purchasing an affordable trailer to tow, where we can live, and store all our bikes and possibly my scooter. But the van has a dark secret. it’s doesn’t work. It sometimes works, sometimes barely makes it up the hill. A problem will be fixed as another arises. I’ll do you, dear readers, the favor of resisting my poetic urge to turn that into a (melodramatic) metaphor for life’s struggles or at least the planning of this great adventure, but I’ve done my duty of planting the ideas of parallel meaning in your heads.

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With the chariot in turmoil, the plans sway like a pendulum between possible and not, between road trip and destination trip, between partnered and solo. Evan has been working his buns off trying to fix all the glitches in the van, and we take it for test rides to challenge the successes and failures. Everything in life is wait-and-see. Instagram is overloaded with accounts of couples taking a year off from their lives as financial lugnuts or tech designers to live in their Westfalias. But my tribe of people are broke or next to it, dreamers who decided not to wake up this time. Our paths may not be linear, or even easy to see for the person who isn’t looking for it, or even for ourselves. And we’re likely to make strange choices, think things through only to the point that they feel right, not that they make sense. Sometimes we just need to stop making sense, stop trying to find logic in our decisions in order to make them.

But the most important thing is that there are always possibilities, always options, and there will always be a guiding light if I dare look for it.

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