Shifting gears (again)
It’s been an interesting couple weeks (really months) for us.
We can feel things changing rapidly these days. Our projects are all (mostly) complete and with the coming of spring is a noticeable uptake in guests looking to stay at them. Last week we installed the skylight that should be the final part of the studio project (and jen wrote what should be the final check, wahoo!). A few weeks ago we started the very odd (even to us) dance of moving from one home to another every 3-4 days as guests checked in or out of one space or another, with the odd night in the sprinter or in a friend’s basement when bookings overlap.
It’s weird how abnormal has become our norm. The process of packing a few changes of clothes in shopping bags and moving our perishable food items from place to place is now completely dialed in. We can wake up in the morning, make coffee, clean a place from top to bottom, pack all our belongings and be on our way in under an hour. If we have arranged someone to clean the place we barely need 15 minutes from dead sleep to driving away. The process is frighteningly easy as we have so few things that must go with us. Laptop and hard drive? Check. Toiletries? Check. A few changes of clothes? Check. Dog? Of course, check. Honestly…what else is there that we need on a daily basis to live happily?
It’s only when someone visits that we begin to realize how odd it is, when they don’t know where to find us until texting on the way. We started karma on some doggie acupuncture last month and in her last treatment we realized that her doctor (who actually prefers home calls) has now seen karma at 4 different addresses in just as many visits. We assured her that she would start seeing the same places more often…but also we went ahead and warned her that there’s a chance one of the next visits could be in the sprinter. ;)
This is not how we would have scripted the plan when we first drew it up (if there had ever been a clearly outlined plan). We are certain that some day in the not-too-distant future we will grow annoyed with the lack of normalcy and long for months at a time under one roof. To actually call one place home for at least a season at a time… but it's also not without its advantages.
The largest of which, of course, is that we aren't clocking in at regular jobs as a result. That after all, is the entire reason for the plan. Yes, we are extremely busy with zenbox right now as we try to get small homes and ADUs built for our clients before the timeline expires…but that is work on our terms; and working completely on our terms can hardly be described as work at all. Right now we are still living mostly month to month in our accounts…but we're hoping by the end of this year to have more of a comfortable foundation in our accounts once again. Availability, it seems is the other largest benefit of our nomadic lifestyle. We were able t spend the last week at the coast helping friends with a major remodel. The week before we shuttled grandparents of the new baby to and from the airport and were available to stop in at a moments notice when timing was right to see the crew in between nap time and feedings. When friends and family have friends and family visiting town we can offer them places to stay at a remarkable discount so that they can stay near their loved ones.
Freedom. When being away from home is the norm, it’s remarkably easy to imagine being literally anywhere else. When you're already sleeping in your van it’s easy to imagine the van parked anywhere you want it, and it begins to seem like almost a waste for it to be parked close to home. It's pushing us to travel and explore…which is clearly a positive and meshes well with our yearly goals. We have already begun making loose plans for small trips and arrangements for longer stays this summer. Now...we just need to make the van a bit more habitable to the lifestyle we've already begun living. Right now were sleeping in nothing but an empty van with a bed platform and a mattress (which seems oddly just enough and plenty comfortable).
But as we see our other homes less and less the idea of having a fully furnished home on wheels becomes more and more attractive. Last week i made a “test set” of bedside cabinets and got underway on a larger kitchen cabinet that will eventually hold our cooktop and other kitchen storage. All mockups at this point and made only of OSB ply…but enough we can take a few trips to test the plan before finalizing the camper build in pretty materials (knowing us, likely steel and bamboo).
I have a commitment to a large client build in april/may and am hoping that during the course of the that project I can weave the van build into my after hours. After that project…if things continue down this course, we will likely be living in the van full time. Vanlife seems our path and goal for now…at least during summer months while others want to pay to be in our homes in portland and while we are also excited to be out exploring elsewhere.
And... while I'm sure the idea of living in your van may seem like giving something up or a step backwards to many…it’s nothing but exciting to us. Hitting the road again feels like the reward for all the work we’ve done over the last 2 years since returning home. Like the purest form of freedom when we long to be exploring.
This time…it actually may be even better. On our first trip... my brain was always focused on the "what ifs" or the eventual depletion of our bank accounts. What would happen when we were ready to return home but couldn’t afford to. What if we had to beg for our jobs back. Back then, I couldn't really find a rhythm to relax or settle into the lifestyle because we had no plan and no foundation. It all felt so temporary to me like a vacation where you're counting down the hours until you have to return to work on monday.
Now our foundation has been created and is in full motion. Now we have a home base to return to whenever we long for it. Now, instead of slowly depleting our bank account on a daily basis it is already empty… but we’re slowly filling it up again…even while away. That is maybe the most exciting thing I can imagine and that feels more like freedom to me than any day we spent on the road before. That…means that the plan is working to perfection even if we don't know exactly what the plan is, or where it goes from here.