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.