This is A Story All About How...
I guess it only makes sense to kick the blog off with a post about WHY we decided to sell most of our belongings and downsize to a home on wheels.
This story starts at least 10 years ago, but I’ll give you all the short version because I don’t want anyone to get carpel tunnel from having to scroll through a decade-long story. This is something that’s been on Tyler’s dream list for as long as I’ve known him. The first 25 times he brought up living in a van, I promptly turned him down and said what most of you probably thought when I announced our plans— ‘Absolutely not. That’s crazy’. And life went on. The next 25 times it was brought up, I conceded with ‘maybe once the kids have grown and after we retire. We can get a HUGE RV, but not a van.’
Let me pause there for a minute because I feel like I need to explain something about myself. As much as the idea of living a vagabond life seemed insane to me, it was really the idea of becoming a van person that I despised. You know when you’re younger and you make promises to yourself about future you? Things like ‘I am going to finish college’; ‘I don’t care who is going out, I am staying in tonight!’; ‘I’m not going to let my kids stare at screens all day.’ (you do you, and I love that our new lifestyle has brought our kids outside more and chilling in front of a screen less, but oh lawdy do we love having the option on long drives or rainy days with nothing to do). Anyway, I’m sure I promised myself all of those things and more, but at the top of my list was ‘I will never, EVER NEVER get a mini-van. Ever.’ When did minivans become the Nickelback of the car world? I know the minivan people reading this now are compiling a list of their top 241 reasons why switching to a minivan was the greatest choice they’ve ever made and listen, I’m with you now, and I’m sorry I threw so much shade all those years. Everyone else will come around, and if they don’t you can laugh as you drive by with your 11 weeks of groceries, 4 kids and their entire life’s belongings, and your haul from Home Goods with room to spare. Obviously we didn’t go with the ‘mini’ route—quite the opposite actually— but I get it. I’ll leave the comments open below so you can tell me the best thing about minivans, and I’m going to get back to how we ended up as true van people.
Alright, so I left off with the solution that I think a lot of people accept, and possibly even have on their Eventual Life Plan list— when we are old, when we retire, when our kids are grown and off to college and we are empty nesters and a little sad but can finally live for us. Well here is the thing: As much as I want to live to be 119 and wear crazy outfits and say saucy things and since I’m older than the moon everyone lets it slide and just says things like ‘oh that Jessica, she’s batty but she’s literally 7 billion years old so we are going to let it slide….just put Britney Spears on to make her happy’, I can’t guarantee that as my future. And even if it is, I can’t be sure that batty Jessica isn’t going to be wheelchair bound, or rocking a replacement hip, or down a lung, or something unfortunate-and-yet-possible like that. I don’t know what the future holds, so although I know our current lifestyle makes a lot of people say ‘omg that’s CRAZY’, what’s even crazier is that so many people put off their fun dreams for ‘later’ when you don’t even know how much ‘later’ you have. I promise this isn’t a downer blog— that’s not really my jam— but let’s face it: so many people set aside their dreams for ‘the perfect time’ and then before they realize it it’s too late and that dream becomes a regret. About a year ago I was complaining about the freezing cold for like the 10th year in a row (like I was surprised, year after year that it gets cold as ballsacks because we live in the arctic state of Illinois), and Tyler reminded me that we could just leave. And it kind of hit me: why DO we stay here? I hate the winter weather and I always have. I don’t need to do my job at a desk in Illinois, buried under 37 blankets for 9 months out of the year… Why are we here when there is so much to see and do? Why do we as adults continue to do things day after day that we don’t enjoy? Like, wasn’t that the most appealing thing about being an adult? Adults get to do whatever they want! And yet, so much of adulthood is doing stuff you don’t even like doing. You spend your time wishing the week away because you’re bored with your current 9-5 routine. Wishing the season away because you’d rather listen to Nickelback in a minivan before having to go outside again when it’s -40 with the wind chill. Wishing for a change of pace, wishing you could quit your job and just buy a flower shop and do something you love, wishing you didn’t have to choose between using your 7 paid days of vacation on taking your kids to Disney or taking that bucket list trip with your spouse. We have met so many people already who can’t help but come up to us to ask questions about our van. We do get the occasional ‘OMG those people LIVE in that thing!?’ look, but honestly most people start off the conversation with ‘We’ve talked about doing that!’ or ‘I wanted to do that, but I haven’t yet because (insert not truly legit excuse here)’.
Anyway, after realizing that it really was quite simple to change the things we didn’t like, we listed our house and starting downsizing our stuff. Guys, I am not a minimalist. Nothing makes me happier than knowing I have enough clothing to not have to repeat an outfit in a calendar year (even though I only ever wore my same 10 favorite shirts and black leggings, every.single.day). I like having seasonal table runners, and 90 forks, and a gift bag collection that looks like I robbed a Hallmark store, and have saved every vase I’ve ever been given even though I only ever use two because I don’t actually like any of the others. I am not a hoarder, but am totally a just-in-caser. ‘I know we haven’t used this in 7 years, but I just KNOW the second we throw it away, we’ll need it so let’s hold on to it until he end of time, just in case’. Like, what is that all about?!? I am not going to sit here and pretend it was a breeze to get rid of all that stuff— it was hard, and I had a mini panic attack more than zero times. Silly, right? I stressed out about NOT BEING ABLE TO PACK VASES!! That was a legit conversation we had. Do you know how many times I’ve wished I had a vase since we vanned up? I’ll give you a hint. It’s the same number of times I’ve been sad I don’t have 90 forks to wash.
Change is scary, but so is putting of the things you really want to do indefinitely. Living in a van with your kids is crazy, but so is waiting until they’re out of the house and on their own to experience all the world has to offer without them. Not knowing what state you’ll be in next week is wild, but so is staying in the same town, in the same state forever, never stepping outside of your comfort zone to do/see/live MORE. Having 90 forks is just bananas.