Last week (or was it last month?) it was too hot for me and my dog to sit in the van. We were in a city so we went to a park and I was sitting by a little man-made lake, crocheting, talking to dandelions, and throwing the ball into the lake for my dog. Even fake spots can be so beautiful. I nibbled on dandelion flowers and tried to figure out what to do about the hat I was crocheting and had accidentally made to big. Maybe if I decreased a couple rows it would have a stylish poof?
Just then a couple with a baby stroller and a cocker spaniel walked by and threw their empty soda bottles in the lake. I sent my dog to retrieve them so I could put them in the trash cans later. A nice older lady thought that was impressive and came over to talk. She knew what to do about the hat. We made small talk and she threw the ball a few times. She was from Vermont and had moved to the desert when she retired… what was I doing there? I told her I lived in my van and was just passing through the city to make money. I live in a van?! She was horrified, and even offered me her couch. It took a few minutes to convince her that I live in my van because I like it, and that I’ve got it set up with a nice comfy bed that I prefer to a couch. Once we surmounted that she asked what kind of work I was there in the city doing. I took a deep breath, anticipating the inevitable lecture about my self esteem, my (non-existant) abusive boyfriend and drug habit, my dark past, my self-image, and the dangers of selling my soul. When I exhaled I just shrugged and said, oh you know… whatever comes.
That night at the strip club it was slow, and I found myself hanging out in the dressing room with a suprisingly nice group of women. They gave me the run-down of the local clubs, how much to tip the DJ, where to buy stripper gear… all the stuff you need to know at a new club. Then they asked where I was from, what I was doing there? Just living in a van, passing through town, making money. Strippers appreciate this mobility, and they asked about clubs I’d been at all over the country. I told them about seasonal money from hunting seasons and conventions and little clubs in the middle of nowhere with big money. They asked where I’d been lately and I said I’d mostly been camping in national forests for the last couple months. Huh. Why would I do that, they wanted to know, why wouldn’t I go to the biggest cities and work in the nicest clubs and stay at ritzy hotels?
Almost everyone I meet reacts strongly to my lifestyle. People are shocked. But a lot of people are strippers. A lot of people live in vans (or RVs, or bicycles, or backpacks). Unfortunately strippers and hobos are largely invisible. This blog is here to make my lifestyle a little more visible, a little more real. I’ll try to update most days when I’m near internet access (which is often – even national forests are near motel parking lots with wifi). If you’re reading, I’d love it if you left a comment.