I wonder if this experience is gonna fade away quickly, like a boring afternoon, or if it’ll stick with me as some sort of turning point or adventure. I wonder if I’ll ever tell my children or their children about this. “Grandpa once lived in a big rolling box called a van, back before we genetically engineered flying super-horses!” Seriously, can we breed some extremely hay-efficient, high-speed horses? I gotta believe hay would be cheaper than gas, and the environmental consequences of horse-shit easier to deal with than whatever the hell comes out of my tailpipe.
Anyway, it’s been almost a full week. I’m in the white-hot middle of my first full weekend in the van. First, a recap of what’s transpired since my post on Monday:
My first night downtown, Monday night, was absolutely painless, and I really hope that’s a precedent. I hope that the night after that night, with its uncomfortable oddness, was a rare inconvenience. That night, Tuesday night, I had my spot, parallel parked on a quiet street in an offices-and-such area. I had drawn my blinds, hung up the bedsheet I use as a curtain to hide me from the front half of the van and anyone who might peer in from up there, and was about to crash (poor choice of words, perhaps, for someone who lives in a vehicle). Before I did, I pulled aside the curtain and looked out the front windshield. Three teenagers were staring at me.
Okay, that was a bit of sensationalism. What they were really doing was sitting and smoking cigarettes, almost in unison, in a neat row, on the edge of the bed of a black pick-up truck about forty yards in front of me. They were indeed staring, intently- but at the van. Whether they could see me, I will never know, but they never moved or broke their stare as long as I had that curtain pulled aside to see. This may not seem that odd to you, but I tell you, it was a strange thing to see from one’s bed, even given the circumstances. They were arranged so evenly and postured so identically- unmoving, except to raise and lower their cigarettes. They did not appear to speak to one another; all three simply stared at me. It called to mind the twins from The Shining, or the three hockey demons from Dogma.
They must have been harmless, because they left after an uncomfortable little stretch of time. I found myself unable to fall asleep until a good bit after they left.
Wednesday night, after a fun bit of karaoke with some friends, I slept in the parking lot of a shopping center, which went smoothly. I swam in the ocean that morning, which had a very soothing effect on my small hangover. The next night, I was somehow talked into watching the Jersey Shore season opener at a friend’s place, which was mind-numbing and regrettable, though I enjoyed the company. Afterward, I spent the night in a guest parking spot at her apartment complex. Surfed that next morning with some of the band. Friday night, last night, I played a show downtown at 16 taps (soon to be called the Pour House Wilmington, I beleive- good venue), and afterward, I went swimming with a friend at her pool, and I spent the night at her place (nothing scandalous). I admit: falling asleep in air conditioning, for the first time all week, was quite nice.
When I swim or surf in the morning, at least so far, I bathe afterward using the hose on the south end of Wrightsville. It’s weird to put shampoo and body wash on myself without an enclosure of some sort, or privacy. Though I wear my swimsuit, I feel naked. It’s like I can’t mentally separate the idea of nudity from these actions that I have taken almost exclusively in the nude since I popped into the world 23 years ago. Being on the edge of a mid-sized parking lot amplifies the feeling, I’m sure. You should try it; I’d be curious to see if other people felt the same thing.
Also, the van might just be getting me in shape. I have worked out in some way every morning since I moved into the van, because then I don’t feel weird about using the gym showers. It has me thinking that maybe, as a rule, taking away some basic comfort of your life might tend to produce some other positive enhancement to it- that my case isn’t just circumstantial. Just a hypothesis. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Unless you’re an asshole.
Might spend tonight in Raleigh with some old friends. I’ll hit you guys up with some pictures and a tour and such soon, I promise. Love.