Nothing Is As Easy As They Want You To Believe
To be honest, people tag me in a lot of posts about people living on the road, and there always seems to be a misleading whimsical quality about it. Videos on Facebook that say “This couple bought a school bus and turned it into a tiny home on wheels!” always make it sound so easy; like you snap your fingers and suddenly have a gutted, cleaned, insulated, fully built living space, along with unlimited gas money and free time.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Despite being an idealist I also have a pragmatic side. In my experience, adventures are one part fun, two parts chaos. There have been a few cringe-worthy times I’ve told someone we’re actually doing this, and their response is “Oh yea, I’m going to do that someday too”. I genuinely hope they do. I hope everyone takes every leap into every new adventure they ever dreamed of doing, but be warned: it’s not so easy. There are some very un-whimsical parts, and people should hear about those too.
To Be Perfectly Honest
It’s my goal with this blog to be brutally honest. Honest about the hard work that goes into converting a bus into a home. Honest about the fact that we made the decision somewhat impulsively, and are learning as we go. The fact that we are creative, talented, motivated people, but we also struggle with physical and mental health issues. Honest about the risks and the rewards. The adventures and homesickness. Honest about the fact that we don’t have our finances figured out. We are going to (and already have) run into mechanical issues, anxiety attacks, and weeks where we live on ramen noodles. I’ll also be honest about the beauty of the country and the feeling of freedom. About the places we go and how we decide to go there. About the bonds we make from the ability to go where the wind takes us. I know it’s not going to be easy, but to the deepest depths of my soul, I know the adventure will be worth it.
As we build the bus, we’re crashing in Kyles parents basement in a rural suburb of Detroit. Michigan winters are not for the faint of heart. It’s been sub-zero temps for several days straight, and below 20 degrees for over 2 weeks. Right now, the only heat we have on the bus is the stock heater, which only works when she’s running. We’ll get a propane heater soon, but there are so many other items to buy for the actual conversion, it keeps falling down the list. In the meantime, we just layer up and run the bus while we work on it.
Kyle and I currently both work day jobs, so we only have weekends to work on the conversion. Christmas was two weekends ago, and New Years was last weekend; both of which took us away from the bus for at least one full weekend day. This weekend, we’re both sick and stuck in bed. I get so anxious on weekends that we don’t get much work done. Our initial deadline was to be on the road by Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. Then mid-January, now the end of January. Every week gets colder and snowier, and despite the fact that we’re getting closer and closer to completion, there are days that it feels like we’re getting further and further away.
Come Hell or High Water
We are in the final stages of renovations on the bus, and emotions are all over the place. Both Kyle and I have our own manifestations of Seasonal Affective Disorder. My anxiety, which often comes up whenever there’s a time limit or sense of urgency (usually self-imposed) is off the charts. My chronic pain is severely exacerbated by cold temperatures. Both of us are having a hard time leaving the house (or bed, for that matter) for a myriad of reasons, including but not limited to: It’s freaking cold and everything hurts. We are still working on a financial plan for the road, and that brings with it its own set of stressors.
Last night we were talking about the lottery, which is currently up to $550 million dollars. Kyles dad asked, “If you guys won, what would you do?” and we both answered, “We’d finish the bus, and travel the country according to plan”. Admittedly, we’d be much more comfortable financially, but this is and always has been a dream for us both. We’ve poured all of our spare time and more than our spare resources into converting Agatha into a livable space, and we want the experiences living mobile and minimal brings, come hell or high water.
Silver Linings Everywhere
As we count down the final weeks and tasks to be done, I intend to find the sweet spots in all of it. The hardest part for me is patience, but it’s something I’m focusing on being mindful of. Being anxious that we aren’t gone yet doesn’t make much sense when I consider we aren’t ready to leave. It also helps to keep in mind that once we’re on the road, that’s it. We don’t have a time limit or rigid itinerary. This bitter cold winter may be the last one we experience in Michigan, but despite its frigid sting, it is beautiful, and worth taking in.