A Short Reflection on 3 Weeks in the Van

Today officially marks three weeks in the van – and oh, what a journey it has been.

I reached the zenith of the struggles last week, when I got the van back on Friday from three days in the repair shop, paid over 5k for the work, and hit the road – only for all of the lights to come back on after a mere two hours of driving.

Frustrated doesn’t begin to cover it. It felt like a cruel cosmic joke at my expense, where the punchline was the futility of all my efforts. I found myself crying in a subway station in Washington DC the next day, wondering if things would ever get better.

And while it’s too soon to definitively say yes, I think 4/20 was my turning point. The van went back in for repairs and came back to me in less than eight hours, and the cost was covered by the previous shop for what they missed. My new mattress arrived so my husband and I can comfortably sleep without rolling into each other like gas station hot dogs. I’ve spent the last week at a house in Maryland, and I’m surprised to find myself at a point where I genuinely miss being in the van.

I miss the freedom, the woods, the time spent outside. I miss the privacy of having no neighbors. And I miss the van life I dreamed of having, staying in wild remote locations, spending mornings on the trail and afternoons working with a view. It’s been a lot of time in public parks and Home Depot parking lots, and I’m ready for the life I signed up for.

Spending the last week in a house has reminded me of the main reason I chose to do this – to simply be outside more. I went south to find the sun and escape the instability of spring weather in the north. And that, at least, has been given. The trees in Pennsylvania were just waking up and the trees in Maryland were in full bloom. A bright fresh carpet of green lines the trains and the new leaves rustle in the wind.

Tomorrow I go back into Washington DC for the National Cannabis Festival, an event I attended last year. It was an incredible display of vendors, education, and the community inherent to the cannabis culture. I vowed to come back with my husband, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve been looking forward to it all week, a bright spot when I wasn’t sure if the latest van appointment was going to go my way.

Then it’s on the road again, getting back to the plan. I’ll spend a week or so in the mountains of Virginia, visiting my first national park in the van. (Shout out to my brother-in-law for the national parks pass for Christmas!) If I’m lucky, I’ll lose service at more than one point during the trip.

And from there, who knows? Maybe I’ll head east to the coast of Virginia Beach, or maybe I’ll stay even longer in the woods, soaking up the solitude. May brings lots of plans that I need to head north for, and I can’t believe I’m a month out from going back to NY already. A little flexibility is called for over the next 10 days.

Published by Jessica Reilly, Writer

Writer, cannabis aficionado, and poetry lover

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