Vanlife Diaries

I wake up to Dan siting up in bed, holding the surfboard above his head with two hands and yelling at me. “Ains! Look outside! I can’t see where I’m going!” Here we go again I laugh to myself. Another one of Dan’s sleeping adventures. “Dan,..you’re ok..you’re safe..we’re in the car..” “Damnit just look outside would you!! I have to break!” his eyes are wide and worried. He’s kicking the back door, seriously stressed out. Then he let’s the surfboard go, rips open the curtains and looks around furiously. Then he calms down and starts to laugh “Fuck I’m doing it again aren’t I?”

We wake up with a council warning shoved under our windscreen wipers. Risking a $200 fine by sleeping in a non-self-contained van. Ok, time to find a new sleeping spot. I’m just happy they didn’t wake us up and asked us to move, we both needed the sleep after the vivid dreams Dan has. We read through it briefly, shrug and drive off to brush our teeth in a nearby bathroom.

Being homeless is starting to grow on me. In daytime it’s a small living-space we have learnt the hard way to utilize. I now have a toothbrush and deodorant in ever bag and Dan’s surfboard now functions as extra storage space above our heads. At night it’s our own little fluffy cubby hole, we could be anywhere in the world, wouldn’t matter, that bed is damn comfy.

Just the mornings can be a little challenging. We are travelling with not only 2 bags and a surfboard, but two more backpacks, a guitar and a wetsuit. It’s usually all piled up on the front seats at night. Most mornings we wade our way through it all and drive to the nearest public toilet to get ready for work. But on the weekends I leave Dan be and sit amongst all the stuff eating my cereal or doing my make up in the rearview mirror.

As we don’t always use the allocated spaces and out van is no way near self-contained, we have to be a bit more sneaky about it. I push my alarm to silent as fast as I can. Just in case someone outside would hear it. Roll from the bed onto the front chairs so I don’t have to attract noise by slamming doors. And when having breakfast and someone walks past, I pretend to be casually waiting on someone while I pause chewing.

I can’t even imagine living in a house anymore. And what’s wrong with washing myself in public toilets anyway? Right? 🙂

I’m walking down the beach swapping long audio messages with Charlotte who now resides in Sri Lanka for the moment. She’s explaining to me how to not wash your hair for a week and still smell pretty. I have to, as showers are now a luxury, thank the lord for dry shampoo. And when I run into Hector (one of the chef’s at my work who also lives in his van) we always keep each other up to date on new shower/sleep spots we’ve come across.

I feel like I’m more aware of real important things…and not telling myself all the time I need this or that in order to get through life or to be happy. I’m definitely enjoying my surroundings more. And wherever I go, my home comes with me. Turns out, adventure comes in confined spaces too.

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Capturing infinite life.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been writing down my memories. Turning memories into words is a part of my soul, as they reflect back at me, reminding me why I’m alive. As detailed as possible, so that re-reading them takes me back to that moment in an instant.

This last week I’ve been introduced to a whole new way of capturing life on camera. I travelled to Cyprus for a short holiday get away and a long awaited reunion. But it ended up bringing me back in touch with my life’s purpose. When I say, a whole new way, I obviously know how to work a camera, but this was a different kind of level and was interesting to get a glimpse into the brains of people who feel the exact same way about filming and photography as I do about writing.

Every waking minute is spent on perfecting the frames in their mind. Getting that perfect shot that captures an entire moment and feeling in a few seconds. Because a photograph isn’t a photograph until you can see inside it and feel what it contains.

I’ve been back from my 3 year world trip a while now and have been (somehow) getting used to normal life, where the beauty passes you by and the extraordinary would have to hit you on the head to be noticed. I appreciate my days but new ones appear without me making any effort. If today was boring, I will try again tomorrow. But that’s not what I had promised myself years ago. If I had to explain what I did promise myself, I will have to refer to a scene in the movie called ‘The perks of being a wallflower’. At one point Sam (Emma Watson) is in the back of a big Ute, speeding like crazy and while driving into a tunnel, David Bowie’s “Heroes” is on so loud she doesn’t hear anything else. She closes her eyes, raises her arms and throws her head back and screams “I feel infinite!”

I forgot what it feels like to feel infinite. Something no human being really is, yet if we can stop time in our minds for one second, like a photograph, we are infinite.

I used to go through life trying everything I was scared of, as I know firsthand what hiding behind fears is like. Yet as soon as the subject cliff jumping was brought up in Cyprus, all that my mind said was NO! But hey, hashtag yolo right? Cyprus is beautiful. Vast clear turquoise water, rust coloured dirt roads and more flowers than the Dutch tulip fields. The cliffs were incredible. And jumping looks like the easiest thing ever .. until your mind tells you it’s not. When fear tells you “no”, you can’t do it. Your body responds, your legs turn to jelly and your breath verges on hyperventilation. That’s when I realized no-one is holding me back but me. This is when you need to stop thinking. There is no thinking required for jumping, but simply leaping into the open. Yes, one wrong movement and it could be over. Instead I was overcome with a feeling of freedom…Freedom and a lot of water in places I don’t want to talk about.

Sometimes you will have to jump off, climb over, dive into, feel or just stop thinking. I am happy those days reminded me of this.

I want my life to be one big event of those infinite captured moments all strung together.

 

Roads, crossroads and shitballs

The road to work is deserted. I love mornings like this, it’s sunny and no wind. I pop in my earphones and start flicking through my Ipod. I only have one brake working, so I am feeling a little stupid when I realise I am holding it in my wrong hand. If something happens now I can’t brake. But, it’s quiet so I go on.

Suddenly a car rushes onto the road from the right, cutting me off. If it wasn’t for my Ipod, I would have seen or heard him coming. Though it’s my bad I still feel a surge of annoyance rise up. The feeling is soon diminished and replaced by a big smile on my face. Half awake, Dick is smiling back at me and rolling down the window. “Morning! I just got your message.”  He slows down and we ride next to each other. His smile changes to a serious face “Ains, I really want to go back so badly.”

Just before I left the house I shared a Timehopp post with Dick. This app shows you all the things you posted on that date. In this case 6 years ago. We had just finished out trip together in Australie. I stayed, his time was up. Dick had posted a message on my Facebook wall, happy for me I had just made it back to Broome. Explaining how he’d love to join me for a sunset. Then saying that he sometimes just lies awake, unable to sleep due to homesickness. Homesickness for a place that was once our home away from home. At that time, I avoided every possible idea of going home. I had just arrived in paradise, I was in no rush to go anywhere else.

But now, I am home. It’s perfect and absolute shit-balls at the same time. For every thing that I am grateful to be here, there is another reason I wish I was somewhere else. We came home after living on another planet. Time passed, but we will never be the people we were before. Not even close.

It is so incredibly frustrating to not be able to explain to anyone what you experienced, because there are no words that come close. The more time passes, the more people expect you to move on, get back to your old life, into the mould of society. That everything will come flowing back to you naturally, but it doesn’t.

It’s my one life experience that connects me to half the world, yet makes me feel like the loneliest person alive. This is why I am grateful to have Dick living right here in my home town. We have been through so much, we just have to look at each other or say hi and for a little while, my loneliness melts away.
One line of “Hey Ains, remember that old piece of shit van we had?” And we can laugh. Knowing we are laughing about the same things, that it’s ok, and that we are not crazy. That it’s only a matter of time that we’ll go back and do it over.

As I am cycling next to the car, there’s a line of cars piling uo behind Dick’s. We’re forced to part again and head back to the normal things in life. We agree to have coffee soon. Not today though, it’s busy at work today. I wave him goodbye, turn my music on with the right hand and ride off to work. Enjoying this road a little more than I did before.

For not all that wander are lost.

dickie