It’s come to my attention that people actually read my blog. This is awesome! It has also come to my attention that some people have been paying attention to the allusions made that I have spent some time being homeless (namely, my mother mentioned that friends and family were wondering if they needed to be worried about me).
Let me just preface the story I’m about to tell by saying that while living out of my car and a tent was difficult and not always a picnic, it was one of the best experiences of my life; I refer to that time in my life as my Walden experience, and will happily tell anyone who takes me seriously that I’ll take tent life over house life any day.
I lived with my boyfriend at the time, and we spent two summers living outdoors; a total of eight months in a tent, one month in the car itself, one month camped on an air mattress in a friend’s spare room, and countless nights having sleepovers on friends’ floors. The way we became “homeless” was partially by circumstance, partially by choice. Without delving too deeply into the personal drama behind “circumstance”, let me just say that we had housing options available to us, but living together out of a tent was the one option that allowed us to both stay together and maintain our autonomy.
For means of survival, we had food stamps to eat, and while we chased every job opportunity available to us, we usually relied on odd jobs or charity from friends to keep a bit of cash in our pockets. We’d help people move and be sober driver to earn gas money; we’d promote events to get free entry, and throw our own spontaneous parking lot dance parties; we’d spend hours upon hours in the library or lounging under trees reading books; we’d lock all our belongings in the car and take off for hours long adventures on foot carrying nothing but water bottles and maybe a light jacket. We were explorers, we were invincible, we were Romeo and Juliet as they had never been; we had each other and nothing to lose.
That’s not to say there weren’t frustrating days, or depressing days, or days where I thought about throwing in the towel and running home to Mummy and Daddy, but I learned a lot of discipline living in a tent, and found a lot of personal strength I didn’t even know I had. I learned how to tell the difference between the stupid drama and the things that really matter; I learned how to stand my ground, and when to walk away from an argument. I learned the depths of unconditional love and compassion; even when I was exhausted, or hungry, or cold, or all three, I learned how to dig down deep and share what I had, even if all I had left to give was a smile and a hug.
People ask me if I’m relieved to be living in a house again, and I say yes, I certainly enjoy the benefits that come with living under a roof, but I miss waking up to the natural dawn and poking my nose out from under the blankets to smell the fresh morning air; I miss the ritual of walking away from town at the end of the day, to where our tent was hidden among trees, and literally feeling the excess energy of society and technology drain away from me like dirty water out of a bathtub; I miss the sense of limitlessness that comes from fewer possessions and material responsibilities.
Now living in a house, I strive to adapt my life to incorporate everything I loved about tent life while still appreciating and making use of the house based resources I have access to. For example, a proper kitchen with perishable food storage is definitely a plus, but on the other hand it feels like I’ve been dragging never ending bags to the thrift store as I continue to simplify my possessions. And with the launch of my new business, I continue to work towards a level of self-sufficiency that will allow me to have the simple, traveling, tent style life I crave, but without having to live in a tent city of questionable legality.
Most people go away to university to learn things that are supposed to prepare them for their adult life; some people take a break from school to travel and “find themselves”. Some people join the military, or the Peace Corps, and travel to distant and dangerous locations to try and make an impact. I gave up my traditional idea of a home, and found exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for.
So if there is anyone concerned, don’t worry, I’m on an adventure and I love my life!