Chasing Focus in the Van

I’ve found myself in a productive rut lately. My time during working hours is becoming less and less productive when I’m in the van.

There’s something about spending all of my time within 40 sq ft (a generous estimate) that makes it hard for my brain to switch into work mode. I have my preferred spot on the couch that I sit in when eating, watching TV, or mindlessly scrolling, and over the past few weeks, I keep finding myself staring aimlessly at my laptop screen wanting to play SIMS and solitare for hours on end.

I have things to do. Client work, administrative tasks, passion projects – I have no shortage of ways to fill the hours between 9 am and 5 pm. And yet the more I sit, the less focus I have.

I’m trying to switch things up. I go for walks in the morning and at lunchtime, sit on the bed, the opposite end of the couch, or seek mental refuge in a library. And it helps, but day in and day out I’m dreaming of an office. Four walls, a door that closes, a desk and a chair, walls adorned with my favorite pieces of art.

I think it’s indicative of something larger, a burning desire to be in a house again. I want space. I want to move through a kitchen without wedging myself between my husband and the couch. I want to cook without the dog trying to climb on my back. I want doors and walls and dedicated rooms.

My time in the van is not over – far from it. My plans take me through summer 2024 in this vehicle and I have no intention of changing those. But I am getting tired of the reality of van life far faster than I thought I would. I am still in the midst of this adventure, but mentally I’m in a house again.

People have asked me if I wish I could just go home, if I should have left my apartment unrented, and the answer is a resounding no. I do not intend to back out of this. I don’t want to take the easy way out. I started down this path with the intention of doing something hard – and I am. I will stick it out in the van until next summer, at which point I will be elated to move into a house again.

But in the meantime my focus is drifting towards the future, untethering me from the present. Cannabis helps, but I can’t rely on it too much or it becomes a crutch. So I’m left in the balance.

And maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s what I need; a desire for something else again. Getting into the van drove nearly three years of my life. What is driving me when I’m done here? Right now, it’s mainly the desire for a house.

In the meantime, I am trying to stay present enough to savor these experiences. There are so many things I may never see again, like a herd of elk grazing in the North Carolina mountains at sunset or the artwork scattered across the Cherokee reservation. I have learned the sound the wind makes through a grove of bamboo plants and that rifle season starts a week earlier down here than in New York. I have tasted radishes plucked fresh from the ground and spent a week without running water. What is living if not this?

Published by Jessica Reilly, Writer

Writer, cannabis aficionado, and poetry lover

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