Photo Essay: Making a Van a Home

homeThis summer, whenever I told someone that I was living out of my van I usually needed to quickly pitch in that it was on purpose in order for their eyebrows to relax.  It was not a sad story of me ending up homeless and living in a car (that was so high school), but rather I became a first-time homeowner by converting an old cargo van into a functional living space.  With the help of a couple of dear friends – along with their nephew and neighbors even pitching in an occassional hand – I was able to convert something cold and rusty into a cozy environment fit for a pug.  These photos are solely of the van’s transformation but pictures from the places where it took us will be coming soon.  Also, it is worth mentioning to the people who know me that I only had to go to the ER once due to injury (did you know your eyeball can get blistered from acid and it won’t affect your vision?).  Chicka, chicka, chickabee.

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite movies “World’s Greatest Dad”, a film about a writer whose son dies and he makes it look like a suicide.  If you have been following the developments surrounding Robin’s suicide and have seen the movie, there are many chilling coincidences that weigh heavy on the heart.  The 3:00 mark in the video makes me weep.  This is one of his best roles and I can not recommend the movie enough.

5/9/14, 8:06pm

Trenton.  Grange Hall.  80’s cover band.  Peepers.  Holiday lights.  Families.

Right now I am sitting in the driver’s seat of my van, legs crossed and hanging out the door, huddled into my hoodie recently dampened by a quick rain.  Cars pull in to the dirt parking lot, catching me in their headlights and pausing for a second before continuing on.  I act clueless of the apprehensive stares haunting foggy windows.  It is everything within me to keep my breath calm, my heartbeat slow, my hands from trembling.  The psychosis is back: dark figures darting throughout the peripheral, strange creatures scurrying across the ground, sounds from an invisible world sloshing around in my ears.  I bought my ticket and should really go inside, but frankly I just don’t know how to be psychotic around children yet.  I want to smoke some medicine to relax, but am again torn about the kids.  I refrain and stay put.

In the window closest to me, a woman with long, thick curly hair is dancing.  She shimmies her shoulders and ducks, smiling to a little forehead jumping in front of her.  They take each other’s hands and the mother begins to spin her daughter as though they are the only two people in the room.  I clench my teeth, trying to keep a stern face while tears rise to my eyes.  Maybe it’s the fact it’s Mother’s Day weekend, maybe it’s remembering how my mother loved to dance.  Maybe it’s just the panic still metabolizing in my system that led me to hyperventilate when it came time to turn the ignition on to get here.  Nothing related – it’s just been that sort of day.

Outside it’s cold.  The air is wet with storms that are now draping the shoulders of the horizon in an evening stole of deep, flowing grays and blues.  A damp breeze seeps through the denim and tickles a chill up my legs.  Sometimes it’s safer for me to participate from the fringe, just beyond the point where the light from the windows gets swallowed by night.  Such a space is usually soft and nonjudgemental of the memories that get stirred up in my head.  I am not entirely here right now and I’m horrified at the thought of making anyone else uncomfortable (within reason, of course); I am known to be a savant in social awkwardness in moments like this.  Loitering the parking lot alone is a bit strange — I know — but it’s just the type of night that makes sense for me to enjoy live music with the budding trees, croaking frogs, and shifty traffic lights.  Continue reading