Returning to Reality after 365 Days of Living the Dream

Sitting on the porch of my new home, sipping on tea and eating fresh eggs from the chicken flock in my backyard while watching my puppy chase squirrels up trees – it’s hard not to think that in some ways, this is living the dream.

Yesterday, the big yellow van I spent 365 days living in was officially sold. For an entire year, waking up every morning inside my retrofitted van and heading out across America to climb and explore was my version of living the dream. It was a dream that my partner Niko and I had fantasized about for many years – and it was nothing short of a dream to make it a reality.

My retrofitted 2005 Dodge Sprinter van, which I lived in for 365 days.

Towards the end of the trip, I started having other dreams. I dreamt of a big wooden desk where I could get some writing done – random coffee-shops get a little tiresome after a while; I dreamt of not eating anything out of a can; I dreamt of having a proper bed and a closet; I even dreamt of wearing dresses, putting on make-up, and feeling like a lady again.

The moment the trip ended, I got all of the “things” I missed while living in a van – and almost immediately, all I wanted was my dirtbag life in the van back.

I was a little lost in the aftermath of the trip, but my post-adventure blues really hit rock bottom after I listed my van for sale. This was it – my life as a vagabonding climber seemed permanently over, and I suddenly found myself entirely lacking motivation, purpose, inspiration, and energy. I did what was probably the worst possible reaction to this newfound sadness: I stayed cooped up inside for days. I didn’t climb, I didn’t write, I didn’t do anything but sulk.

When I handed my key over to the van’s new owner last night, I was expecting to feel an overbearing sense of loss and depression – but instead, I was greeted with relief. Hope, even. I had officially closed this chapter of my adventures. It was undoubtedly the best year of my life, and no vehicle will ever compare to the big yellow Sprinter that was my first mobile home – but now it’s time to focus on new adventures.

The completed map of my yearlong road trip around America.

I may have a home-base now, rent to pay, and a desk where I can get some real writing accomplished without feeling pressured to spend $4 on a latte, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up any adventures. I’m heading down to Miami this week to pick up my old Scion hatchback, and once I’m back in a car I actually love to drive (sorry van, you weren’t my favorite vessel to pilot), I’m going to start exploring again. Niko is already planning a bike ride from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, and I’ve got my sights set on a few tubing trips once the water warms up.

This isn’t the end, folks. This is just the beginning of something new.

Comments

  1. says

    Beautiful & bittersweet. I’m so happy for you that you’re able to look ahead and see the good things coming. I’m notoriously bad at big changes; adjusting our mindsets about what we want and need can be so tricky. Just remember, nothing says that some day you can’t go back :)

  2. says

    It is always hard to give up something that gives you so much joy, but the up side is that it makes room for something new. If you don’t mind me asking (and you may have posted it before, but I just found your site), how much money did you save up prior to departing on your adventure?

    • says

      Indeed Kyle, there is a lot of room for new adventure in my life now! And of course I don’t mind you asking. I’m probably going to do a big FAQ about the trip soon, but in the meantime here’s the short answer: We saved about 10k, and I did a little bit of freelancing on the road, and Niko worked fulltime for a month delivering mattresses in Boulder in August when we needed a little extra cash!

      • says

        Well, that was quick. $10,000 does not seem too bad for two people. I will keep an eye out for that FAQ. I just stumbled across your site, but I will definitely be checking back often. Is there a way to subscribe via email?

  3. says

    Just stumbled across your blog and this post so resonates with us. The feeling of living full of absolute bliss but missing things “from the other side”. Glad you’re finding a balance between the two lives and that you also found a way to make your dream a reality!!

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