Van Life (or Not)

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If you are one of those people who likes to see how other people minimize, downsize, or live in a tiny home, but don’t really see yourself ever doing that – join the club.

That was us (me) until a few years ago when Marty got the idea of buying a van. Looking back, I think he just had too much time on his hands. For one thing, we no longer had eight kids living with us. We were down to three. We still had basketball games, 4-H meetings and wondering where our 18 year old was, but our workload had been cut by 60%. 

For months I didn’t take the idea of us owning a van seriously. For one thing, we’d always been Suburban people, knowingly nodding to each other over our escape from such a pedestrian lifestyle whenever we’d see a minivan loaded with kids drive by. Our 1987 Chevy was lifted, bright red and awesome. So what if we didn’t have armrest cupholders (we had metal ashtrays) or video screens that dropped down from the ceiling – we were cool and got 12 miles to the gallon.

But Marty wasn’t looking at minivans, he was looking at a lifestyle. And if I’d ever had a chance of redirecting this search for new meaning in life, I missed it. He’d peruse ads, options and configurations, show me pictures of happy couples (lounging around in thong bikinis) living the #vanlife and ask my opinion about the “headliner” or “composting toilet.” Um, no. For one thing,it wasn't me having the midlife crisis. For another, any dwelling that needs the words "compost" and "toilet" to be used in the same 50 square feet was not one for me. 

But Marty has a way of wearing me down with non-stop conversations about a topic. I actually started to believe that buying a van was going to save us money, simplify our lives and help me lose 25 lbs. Plus, he assured me that buying a van didn’t mean living in a van. For us, all it would mean was “building it out” and then having a place to stay when we visited our kids. That kind of van life. 

I should have asked for details about how "building it out" was going to save or simplify anything, but I got caught up in his dream, and off we went to Dallas, Texas, where a long and extra-tall 2015 Ford Transit van waited.


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