#Vanlife, What’s that?
Before I even met Matt in person we started bantering back and forth about Vanna White – his 22’ converted adventure vehicle that sounded oddly like girlfriend competition. But she only intrigued me and left me wanting to know more.
On our first date, Matt sat across from me at Etcetera wine bar in San Francisco and told me that he had developed his own tag line. He had branded himself… “just a chill guy looking for adventure”. Every time he said it he slowly waved his hand in the air like he was writing the banner in the sky. He also showed up to our first date a little tipsy (which he pulled off well because I had no idea until he told me later) and spent hours yelling to me from about 4 inches away telling me that he was a natural introvert. It all could not have been more endearing.
After we were a few dates in, Matt shared with me that he unleashed all the “crazy” on our first date with the intention of scaring off anyone that couldn’t handle it. But somehow the lack of vocal control, the self branding, the gross misinterpretation of the differences between introversion and extroversion, and the early warning signs of alcoholism didn’t scare me off…turns out this is my brand of crazy. So I leaned in.
Sitting there at the wine bar in San Francisco, he also told me about his dream of going on a road trip around the US visiting all 50 states and taking epic sunrise and sunset photos in every one.
Side note: This is when I started doing stalker-like searches on social media of #vanlife (which I now know is a real thing)
It all sounded awesome but also resembled a little bit of a pipe dream – a lot of people talk about dreams but never act on them. The more time we spent together, the more the idea of leaving San Francisco in a van headed to nowhere started to come up in regular conversation. It was starting to sound like this might not be just a pipe dream for the crazy guy I was seeing. It was early on and I didn’t know where this relationship was headed and I was already starting to feel like Vanna was going to steal away this amazing new human that I was quickly growing really fond of. At this point (circa January 2017), I never would have thought that when you fast forward just a couple months I would become a part of this pipe dream.
We eat pipe dreams for breakfast
I went from telling my friends and family – “I’m dating this really great new guy, he has a camper van, I hope we get to getaway for a weekend camp trip sometime…” to “I’m moving out of San Francisco at the end August in a van headed across the US of A”. I continued to be amazed that my friends were not more shocked by this news I started spreading around. Apparently, they don’t think that I was born to swim in financial reports and spreadsheets for the rest of my life either. I can’t say my parents were exactly thrilled when I told them about my approaching adventures but they’re finally coming around to the idea (hi mom!). I still have moments where I think that I may be crazy – but I’ve decided to embrace it.
My priorities, desires and what I want out of life at this moment are changing. And I’m not saying that I have changed but I did make a really big change. Going forward does not mean that I can never go back (Matt would probably disagree as he hates moving backwards, but this is not the same thing!). I have made a decision to spend some time focusing on the simpler (and unknown) things in life and see where it leads – this could last 5 minutes or it could last 5 years. And either option is ok with me as long as I learn something along the way.
I’ve always been fascinated by people’s stories of what brings them to this moment, that decision or to a certain way of thinking. How do we judge so quickly without knowing anything about another? We all have different things that motivate us or things that we value – and what’s really incredible is that all of that can start change at any moment. Change can be hard but I also think it’s ultimately what drives us to grow, learn and take action. We make crazy decisions that lead to new adventures, drive new struggles, open new paths and maybe close a few old ones. Sometimes we have control over those decisions and sometimes they are forced upon us. Regardless, it is up to each one of us to make the best out of all of it.
Put down the screen.
Say hi to your neighbor.
Show kindness to a stranger.
Don’t judge what you do not know.
Struggle for something you care about.
Learn something new. And do it again.
Don’t take the easy road.