I thought it time for a review of the realities of my living situation, my unemployed and homeless self, and of life on the road thus far. These observations are mine and mine alone, and only based on my experiences. I continue to learn, to adjust, and to fully accept and engage with the pilgrimage I am on. This journey, this adventure. Here goes!
What I like the most:
- There are the obvious things like my morning tea every day, taking my time when I wake up, the beauty of my surroundings (most of the time), the fresh air, stuff like that. These things are sort of built into this undertaking. Go to bed when I want, get up when I want, eat when I want. Being 24/7 in nature, or some variation, is great. The air is pure and fresh, I can smell the rain, the moisture, the dry pine needles. I can hear the creek, the ocean, the animals. These things are a signifiant reason I am doing this, to be in and of nature.
- Not so obvious are things like I am always moving, which does both my body and my soul good. I am sure I can get in a mile just to and from the freaking bathroom! There is no sitting and watching TV, at least not yet. I can sit at the picnic table, swing in the hammock, or use my camp chair in or outside of the tent. I am always writing and I love it! I am not tethered to a computer for hours on end, chained to a desk in an office. I can spend as much or as little time on this machine as I choose and that is liberating. I also have a paper journal for back up in case I totally run out of juice.
- I love the library. I mean, I loved it before, but now I love it even more. I spent my childhood at the library. I joined the summer reading programs (and always excelled), I used their encyclopedias for research for school papers (no internet in those days), and I would regularly check out books to read. Now it is my sanctuary for electricity, internet (which I generally use my own since I am paying for it), first world bathrooms and posters of current local events. I have found those little neighborhood libraries and will trade books. I donated a couple books to a fundraiser at a library, as a way to repay my use of their resources. I realized it is stupid to carry more than one book at a time. I just do not have the space. If I do not like the book, I will stop reading it and get something else. Life is too short for bad beer and stupid books.
- I really am not on a schedule, so when something is out of whack, does not go according to plan, or throws a wrench into my day, it generally does not matter. Like my day at the laundry mat. It was busy, being a Saturday and all. Many of us had things in the dryers. I usually put mine on low. Well, my time was up and no heat at all. I figured I hit the wrong button. Insert more money. Then, the other ladies (why was it all women?) started to talk and not one of the dryers had heat. Not only that, no washing machine could do warm or hot. Ends up the propane delivery for last week never happened so the laundry was out of fuel. My clothes were mostly damp anyway, so I hurried them all back to camp before anything wrinkled beyond repair. I used my hammock and hung a little clothes line. That ate my afternoon, as I did not want to leave them unattended. My tent looks like my laundry basket exploded, but I will fix that later. I went for ice and washed the car. I stopped for spinach and wipes and ran into a little drink taster event. What do you know, more free alcohol! That killed my day, but what was I doing to do anyway? I dunno. Not sure. I just rolled with it. Best to just take it as it comes.
What I like least:
- I have already made it clear that getting up in the middle of the night to pee sucks. It can be really cold, and dark, and I generally will not make the walk to the commode. But, if I have neighbors, I must. Sigh. The outhouse is not great either, but I am pretty much over that. I have my own supplies anyway.
- Noisy neighbors. I do not mind neighbors. In fact, I met this Mom and Daughter team who are a few spots down from me. They have been here as long as I have and I got sad when I saw them pull out the other day. Thankfully, they were just running errands and because they have an RV, the whole house had to go. I stopped in for a little chat and they are full time-ers. I like knowing someone is near, but not too close. They take little walks and just hang at their camp. I feel like we connected in some small way.
- Cold. I do not mind it being cool outside, but I do not like it when some part of me cannot, no matter what I do, get or stay warm. I am experiencing the cold in new and disturbing ways and I hate it. My capacity and tolerance are changing with my age. I hate to even say that out loud. It is getting tougher. Yuck.
- Being so susceptible to the elements. I underestimated my vulnerability and have and will continue to adjust accordingly. This does limit my options of where I choose to be or for how long. Again, it is a choice. I have not purchased a heater for the tent or some other electronic way to stay warm. I intend to stick it out for this year, but if I am to do this longer term, I will have to change my accommodations and get myself more protection from the elements.
My biggest fears or concerns:
- Dropping a high value item, like a phone or keys, down the shitter. I am not talking about a flush toilet, either. I mean the outhouse or pit toilet or even a port-a-potty where my item would fall into a mosh pit of human waste and decay. I almost barf just writing this.
- As always, where I will lay my head and for how long continues to hover like a cloud over my existence. I am learning to let go and have more faith and trust in the process. I have to do that or I will tie myself up in unnecessary knots and miss the gifts presented to me.
- Bugs. I have been lucky so far in that it is not full on mosquito or black fly or tick season. But, I know it is coming and I dread it! I have been able to keep bugs mostly out of the tent. Somehow, a little gnat keeps making and appearance, but that is quickly put to rest. I am mindful of my shoes and put them in bags inside of the tent so nothing takes up residence inside. This is a habit I wanted to form before I hit places with creepy-crawlies and reptiles and things that sting or bite. I am sure I have eaten something or slept with something in my bag, but I prefer to live in denial about all of that.
- So far, I have been playing in familiar territory. Washington and Oregon. I know the terrain, the cultures, many of the towns. I am nervous about really getting far, far away from that which I know. Like staying in the South or the East. New to me! I know I will have my camp vibe and my gear down to a science, so I will not have those worries. But, I will be in new and unfamiliar territory and that will challenge me in a way I have not yet had to deal with.
- Running out of water. I am a total spaz about water and have it stored all over and never let it run low, even when I know I am only ten minutes away from water. Always with the water.
What I have learned so far:
- I can do this. I do not have the feeling of vulnerability that I thought I would. I do not feel unanchored or unattached. I feel very grounded and centered and that feels good.
- I am not alone. I see the posts, the Facebook comments, the emails and I am reminded that I have a legion of community and supporters behind me. Advisors, cheerleaders, consultants and mentors. That rocks!
- Let others do it their way. I have a tendency to judge people. I cannot help it, it is really in my DNA and every personality test I take brings that out. I guess that is why and how I am looked to as a leader in many situations. Anyway, I tend to get critical if I disagree with how someone is doing something when I know a “better” way. It killed me last night when the couple next door left their top case and back of their SUV open. Like open for hours. AHHH!! I have to give them their room to learn and grow and find what works for them. However, if I think you are on the verge of hurting yourself or another, I will speak up.
- You can get two to three wearings out of your clothes before they are either dirty or smelly. It just depends on what you are doing. Oh, and you do not need to shower every day or wash your hair all the time. I am getting 3-4 days between for the hair. I do use wet wipes in between for my personal self and that seems to take care of most dirt or offensive smells.
- Speaking of wet wipes, why do we, as adults not wipe our privates with wet wipes after we go to the bathroom?? Why is that OK for babies and little kids but not us adults? I think we are stupid to think that some dry paper will get all that needs to be gotten off our person during bathroom time. How did that even start? I disagree and want wipes. Let’s start a wet wipe revolution! Wet Wipes in ever bathroom!! Every stall!! Wet wipes for all!! Even that lady who stole mine, you can have some more, too!!
- Try not to over plan or over think or stress. Get back to that place of faith, of being the traveler, the pilgrim, observer. It will work out, it has so far. The path continues to show itself. I cannot remind myself of that enough. Get on and ride that vibration!
- Spend more money on better stuff and for less quantity. That whole thing about “quality over quantity” is my daily life. I need to treat my body well, as I am asking more of it these days, which means I should and am trying to eat better. I am looking to have good gear and clothes that function and perform. It is not just about looks anymore. I also just do not have room for stuff. If there is not a use, it must go. Simple.
- I now live my life in public. That means I do not own my own bathroom, shower, or have garbage service. I need to seek these things out in the public realm. I prefer to use a park or amenities at my camp. But, I may not have all of those at my disposal. I use the library, too, while I am there. Other than that, I frequent gas stations and grocery stores. It is strange to be at the mercy of the public realm and I have a new appreciation for the services communities may or may not provide. How does our community support travelers or pilgrims or folks passing through? How to we provide for others who do not have access to resources? I do not think there is anywhere in my hometown one can take a shower. Paid or free. I am even challenged to think of where someone would go to the bathroom if they are in a public space. What about winter, when the parks are closed? How open to someone just using the bathroom are the local businesses? What about filing water jugs or containers? Perhaps I will give that some more thought moving forward.
- Dirt. It is everywhere. The more primitive the camp site, the more dirt there shall be. I hate, and I mean HATE, dirt under my fingernails. I am NOT that person who likes to put her hands in the dirt and feel Mother Earth. Nope, sorry Moms, I will wear gloves each and every time. Alas, however, that has changed. I am constantly trying to clean my fingernails. Well, what I have left, anyway. They are a hot mess and I am constantly filing down that recent break. I try to keep dirt out of the tent and off as many of my things as possible. I am using the nearby creek for washing and rinsing. It is bitter cold and clear as glass, so I am not worried about germs. I am not drinking it, just using it for cleaning and washing. My drinking water is way too precious for all the cleaning I must do.
Well, that was more than I thought I had to talk about. I find that people who are thinking about this sort of journey are hungry for information. Here is the dirty little secret: you have to figure it out for yourself. Yup, that is correct. No amount of research or advice or suggestion can tell YOU what will work best for YOU in YOUR situation. That is my final nugget this morning. You can speculate and plan and prepare, and then you just have to do it. Jump! Only then will you truly know what works and does not work and where your comfort zones are and are not. Be prepared to adjust and recalculate and change things to suit yourself. Hell, maybe this sort of thing is not even your sort of thing. That is OK, too. At least now you know.
Nike said it, JUST DO IT!