I want to talk about road blues. You know, the valleys between the mountains. The emotional roller coaster of being on the road. The loneliness that can pierce your bones and leave you realizing you’re in a dumpy parking lot with no friends around you. When you’re driving down the road wishing someone was there to share the beautiful experiences with or someone to help keep you up when your driving late at night because a cop shoo’d you out of your spot…
Loneliness was my enemy when I first started living on the road. Of course, I had all the excitement and build up of expectations, but it was hard to keep my mind from consuming itself when I was alone for days on end. I would go weeks without having a conversation with someone in person. I would spend several hours on the phone with friends and family but nobody was there with me in person.
Why was I lonely? It wasn’t all the time but I would self analysis thoughts I was having that would lead me to loneliness. I was losing confidence in my decisions. I wasn’t sure if I was too much on the fringe of society. Some of my fantasies were finding other people who did what I did and traveling with them. It took me three months to find a fellow van lifer to hang out with. I had seen lots of vehicle dwellers parked in the Walmart parking lots but I never had the confidence to go say “Hi”. Due to the fact I was always on red alert for dangerous people.
Finally, three months in I found a friend. It was great! I felt connected to something but then that relationship ended and I drifted back to that lonely place. Granted, I was periodically seeing friends and family in some of the states I was visiting but I never stayed more than four days so that I didn’t encroach on their space too much.
But then RTR happened. The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous is a gathering of people who live in their vehicles. Kind, giving, knowledgeable people. After my first night there I felt I had a family. I didn’t know a soul before going but during the first night I was asked to join a small camp. I felt like the new kid on the block with only five months under my belt but there were a lot of beginners who had just started and the RTR was their first stop! This is where I felt more confident in the lifestyle I had chosen. This is where I found my tribe. The people who I go to when I need community.
During one of the many seminars at the RTR there was a question jar that we could anonymously fill out then as a group we’d answer the questions. I put a question in about loneliness. I was looking at all these happy people thinking I had missed something. Why didn’t they seem to have the same problems I was having? It turns out they did, and they shared advice about becoming your own best friend. I appreciated the idea of building myself up and not having personal expectations. I try to make goals and challenges for myself, I am an overachiever at heart but I was at a loss with what to do each day. The days where I had planned out activities were a lot of fun! Like when I was be-bopping around Pennsylvania checking out their chocolate factories, crayon factories, and pretzel factories, life was easy! But afterwards didn’t where to go, what to do? When I didn’t have plans I noticed my loneliness. I had too much time to think and get frustrated. I didn’t know what towns to go to. I was always looking for internet and having a difficult time finding places to park at at night. I knew I needed to start taking each day at a time to pull myself out the slump.
When I lose sight of my mission it gets hard. What is my mission? Is it to have fun? To find a partner? Is it to find peace or happiness? Maybe to find purpose? Or just to fly by the seat of my pants?
My mission is to travel. Not just travel but experience places. To remember the feeling I had when I arrived in a new place. To look at everything as a student, curious about the next lesson in history or art. I would read the plaques, take photos or video the sights for others to see. I always want to remember.
If I always keep my mission in mind, as open ended as it seems, I feel like it will guide me to the places I am meant to experience and the people I am meant to meet. Sometimes I get lots of opportunities and sometimes I am not given a break. No matter what I do until the day I die its going to be a roller coaster of valleys and mountains. I just hope that the valleys are short and the mountains are tall. 🙂
© Curious Karli