The Van Experiment: Doubtful, Rediculous, and Sexy

My name is Mike. On August 1st, I will move into a van.

I will live, as it were, from this van. It is not an RV, it is a van. Other than its size, and the fact that it is in my possession, it is not in any way specially equipped for this.

I live in the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina. I have a full-time 9-5 job in web development and IT. I am male, strait, sane, of an upper(?)-middle-class all-American upbringing, and at the time of this posting, I am emotionally stable, financially stable, generally law-abiding, 20-something, bored, and heretofore, ostensibly normal. But, of course, I’m not actually normal – nobody interesting can by definition be terribly normal – and my lifestyle is about to reflect this.

Very few people do not find this at least interesting. But, more specifically, the people I tell have three general reactions. First, doubt: There are those who simply don’t beleive I can or will live in a van for any notable period of time. Second, incredulity: There are those who don’t speculate as to my ability to do this, but think that my attempting it at all is ridiculous (which, to be fair, is a reasonable enough reaction).  Then, third, there are those who think it is respectable, awesome, or even – and I quote -  sexy. All three of these reactions to my plans feed my desire to try this. I will prove the doubters wrong, I will take pride and pleasure in being ridiculous, and I will embrace those who embrace me.

The thing people tend to focus on, when I first tell them, is the “how”. How will I cook, shit, shower, do laundry, survive Wilmington summer without AC? I have a preliminary answer to all of those questions, and no, it doesn’t involve constant fast food meals, shitting in bushes, smelling awful, or dieing of heat stroke. What it does involve constitutes a lot of what this blog will detail, so I won’t spoil the fun by giving it away yet.

The question I’m surprised I don’t hear more often is “Why?”. In fact, I got asked this so seldomly at first, that the first time someone did, in earnest, ask why, I didn’t really have an answer. I’d never put it into words. I still can’t quite – it’s a mostly emotional, not logical, rationale, that has something to do with rebellion, autonomy, and being 23. But here are a few well-defined reasons to get the ball rolling, roughly in order of significance. At some point, I’ll probably write a post about each of these.

As close as I can currently get to “Why”:

  • It’s a challenge
  • I like the idea of minimalism in one’s lifestyle (for further reading, see the backpack monologue from the film Up In The Air)
  • To save money
  • It’s interesting, and it’s interesting to write about
  • To remind myself, by living in something that moves at my command, that I do not want to work, immobile and under the command of others, at a desk job for the rest of my life.
  • To prevent, by force, the powerful seduction of normalcy

Lastly, before I sign off, let me make something explicit: this is an experiment. I do not have the delusion that I will do this forever (nor do I rule out that slight possibility). Assuming I give this a fair shake, I will not feel shame if and when I move out of the van and back into another structure- be it an apartment, a house, an RV, or a shack in a tree in the woods. It will not be a defeat, but simply the next step in my life (though I’m sure I’ll still get a lot of shit about it from those who fell into the aforementioned ‘doubtful’ and ‘ridiculous’ categories of criticism).

So, if you care to, tune in as I post, approximately weekly, my honest, heart-on-sleeve account of this adventure. I’ll do my best to keep it interesting. Cheers.


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3 Responses to The Van Experiment: Doubtful, Rediculous, and Sexy

  1. karla rafferty says:

    Awesome !!!!!!!! To me, the very fun part will be deciding where you want to wake up the next am !!!! :) :):):):):) hope you find some very special spots, esp along the beach & in the wetlands :) :):):):):) Please don’t get a gun !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Looking forward to following your adventure :) !:)!:)! k

  2. Nadine says:

    I think this sounds like a fantastic – adventure, experiment, whatever.

    1. how did you survive Irene?
    2. how have you been eating? (always my #1 concern)
    3. how will you stay warm in the coming days?


  3. Bonnie Allison says:

    Mike, I really enjoy your writing stlye. Keep up the posts. It’s better than daytime soaps………As The Van Turns, General Van or All My Van. Stay safe. Bonnie

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