Posted in Vagabonding, Working Holiday

Hello, I Love You

… won’t you tell me your name?

One of the most common themes as summer has faded in New Zealand is fellow travelers sighing about how lonely and exhausting it is. Backpacker Standard Time makes it easy to make friends, but every time you go to a new city you start over again. You’re always tearing your heart apart even as you expand it with new people and places.

Sometimes you just need a theme song while you’re traveling: someone else who has experienced the same world and put your emotions to music. So, here’s a 14-song playlist (in honor of first coming to New Zealand in 2014) whose lyrics make so much sense to me this year.

Home  by Matt Gresham

This song wove it’s way into my psyche through a German friend who couldn’t even remember its name.

I picked up my life and I stuffed it in the bag
One way ticket out and I’m never coming back
People say I’m crazy ’cause I left my world behind
There’s no map could tell the world just why I’m leaving
But home is not a place, it’s a feeling
Maybe I’ll find it maybe I won’t I gotta keep on moving even if I don’t
I realized that’s my time so I moved so far away
You know I look back at the city where my dream would slowly fade
I know the road less traveled is the one I’d rather take
But the loneliness is worth it for the memories I’ll make

Anywhere With You Is Home  by Kurt Hugo Schneider
Sometimes you get a partner to travel with.
I’ve run around on the beaches of L.A
Skipped stones by the bay
I’ll take you there some day
Bumped a ride off a cabby in Mumbai
We saw those Northern Lights burning up the night
Got lost on a trail in Peru, took in that Rio view
And I did it all with you
My passport’s thick from everything we’ve done
But, I think we’ve only just begun

Little Wanderer by Death Cab For Cutie
While this song is technically a romantic song of partners on opposite sides of the globe, it is a lot about my relationship with my mom. She’s been on the other end of the Skype call while I keep wandering all over the world.
But I couldn’t make you out through the glitches
It’s how it always seems to go
So we say our goodbyes over messenger
As the network overloads
When the network overloads
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Off across the sea
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Won’t you wander back to me
Back to me
Always fall asleep when you’re waking
I count the hours on my hands
Doing the math to the time zone you’re at
Is an unseen part of the plan

The Nights  by Avicii

Not quite how my dad talked to me about travel (he called me a boomerang… always leaving, always coming back), but the theme is still striking.

He said, “One day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember.”
My father told me when I was just a child
These are the nights that never die
My father told me
When thunder clouds start pouring down
Light a fire they can’t put out
Carve your name into those shining stars
He said, “Go venture far beyond the shores.
Don’t forsake this life of yours.
I’ll guide you home no matter where you are.
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Nine days, 36+ hours driving. Slowly, slowly, me and Goldie.

Chicago by Sufjan Stevens

Domestic travel was what first introduced me to van life. Although I haven’t gotten to New York yet, the western states are mine. So many places I’ve fallen in love with as I’ve woken up to the sunrise.

I drove to New York
In a van, with my friend
We slept in parking lots
I don’t mind, I don’t mind
I was in love with the place
In my mind, in my mind
I made a lot of mistakes
In my mind, in my mind
You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow

Woke Up In A Car  by Something Corporate
 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I woke up in a car
I traced away the fog
So I could see the Mississippi on her knees
I’ve never been so lost
I’ve never felt so much at home
Please write my folks and throw away my keys
I woke up in a car
I met a girl who kept tattoos
For homes that she had loved
If I were here I’d paint my body
Till all my skin was gone
cof
Gisborne and the misty beach

Trip The Light  by Garry Schyman ft Alicia Lemke

My original theme song for this year: keep going.

If all the days come to pass
Are behind these walls
I’ll be left at the end of things
In a world kept small
Travel far from what I know
I’ll be swept away
I need to know I can be lost
And not afraid
We’re gonna trip the light
We’re gonna break the night
And we’ll see with new eyes
When we trip the light

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + The Machine
How big, how blue, how beautiful
How big, how blue, how beautiful
And every city was a gift
And every skyline was like a kiss upon the lips
What are we gonna do?
We’ve opened the door, now it’s all coming through
Tell me you see it too
We opened our eyes and it’s changing the view
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Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

Good Life  by OneRepublic
To my friends in New York, I say hello
My friends in L.A. they don’t know
Where I’ve been for the past few years or so
From Paris to China to Colorado
Sometimes there’s airplanes I can’t jump out
Sometimes there’s bullshit that don’t work now
We all got our stories but please tell me
What there is to complain about

Continental Breakfast by Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile
An American friend turned me onto this one.
I cherish my intercontinental friendships
We talk it over continental breakfast
In a hotel in East Bumble-wherever
Somewhere on the sphere, around here

Long Way Around  by The Dixie Chicks

People keep asking me this year when I’m going to settle down. I don’t know, I truly don’t.

Well, I fought with a stranger, and I met myself
I opened my mouth, and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself
But I, I could never follow
No, I, I could never follow
Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me, I can still be found
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
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The Coathanger, Picton

Weight of Lies by The Avett Brothers
Disappear from your home town
Go and find the people that you know
Show them all of your good parts
Leave town when the bad ones start to show
The weight of lies will bring you down
And follow you to every town ’cause
Nothing happens here that doesn’t happen there
When you run make sure you run
To something and not away from ’cause
Lies don’t need an aeroplane to chase you down

My Way by Frank Sinatra
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
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Mt. John Observatory, Tekapo

Now or Never  by Outasight
So last without least…
While it’s a different theme than most of the rest, I can’t have a New Zealand backpackers playlist complete without the song that was always in the background the last time I came here.
It’s time to decide if its worth the fight or letting it slide
And I drew the line at wasting away or waiting to be saved
Yay y’all made my own luck in my head on straight and kicked up the dust
And the money well it don’t mean much I did it for the love and that was enough
The way I dreamed it ain’t the way it played out missed
Every road that looked to be the safe route
No directions I made my way out I don’t give a damn what they say no way now
We don’t care what the people say
And we don’t care what they want to do
And we don’t care about it anymore
We do what we want I ain’t wasting a no more time
Its now or never I’m about to get mine
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Posted in Lessons, People, Stories, Vagabonding, Working Holiday

The Life of Lettuce

I’ve been in New Zealand for three months already. It’s just about the same amount of time that it takes lettuce to grow from clay-covered seed to the packaged form you see in the supermarket. By the time my seasonal work ends at Easter, I will be just a few days shy of seeing the seeds I planted my first day on the job be harvested.

During this life cycle of lettuce, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of little things on the rare days when I’m not living in a van.

  1. Floors! Duvets are common here, but mine isn’t 100% square. I haven’t quite figured out which direction the lines on my cover should be going, nor which direction makes the duvet fit in said lines. Do you know how lovely it is to have a floor where it can drape on the ground when freshly washed so I can figure it out instead of trying desperately to keep something longer than I am tall off the mud?
  2. If I get to have both soap AND running water to wash my hands, I’m practically dancing with giddiness.
  3. A proper sink where I can wash my dishes and feel more than vaguely optimistic that they are actually clean.
  4. A bed that is parallel to the ground. It seems like no matter how carefully I park, as soon as I lie down blood is rushing to my head, or I’m sliding to the bottom of the bed, or I wake up practically squashed against the side of my van.
  5. Speaking of lying down – it is really nice to be able to stand up when I’m getting dressed instead of writhing on my back trying not to lay on curtains or decapitate myself with the fairy lights strung across the ceiling.
  6. A shower with hot water that lasts more than seven minutes. It is an absolute luxury to linger after a long day!
  7. Walls! I’m doing physical therapy for my knees and need walls to sit against and know that my knees are in the right position.

Okay, that was fun, but I’m really here to talk about something a little more serious: the practicalities of doing a working holiday in New Zealand. I just got word that a dear friend from college will be arriving in May to start her own visa, and I’ve befriended a Redditor who just got to Christchurch to start his. So for them, and for the curiosity of other readers, here’s some important things to know when you get to this country.

The DON’Ts:

Two things I recommend you skip would be any sort of starter pack if you’re a reasonably competent human being (the address is nice, but that’s the only useful thing I’ve had from it), and an international driver’s license (you don’t need one if your license is in English).

 

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New Zealand Rail has some beautiful history

 

Phones:

You can walk into any phone store or hostel and get a travel SIM or generic prepaid SIM. Make sure that you have an unlocked phone though, if you bring your own from home! Spark and Vodafone are the two biggest networks. Word on the street is Vodafone has the better plans, but Spark has the better coverage. You can also go to the Warehouse and get a cheap phone/plan from there.

Money Money Money:

In order to work in New Zealand, you need an IRD. In order to get an IRD, you need a New Zealand bank account. In order to get a NZ bank account, you need an address.

No worries, dear friends! You can get an address from your hostel. Simply walk up to the front desk and ask for a letter for the bank. They’ll print off a piece on their letterhead that says you’ve been staying there which will be copied at the bank. If you can, set up an appointment in advance so that you don’t have to wander all over town finding a bank that can see you that day.

Now all you have to do is hop online and send off your IRD application. It takes about ten days, and you can opt to have them text you the number when it’s completed.

If you choose to start working before you have this number, you have two options. You can either have your pay withheld until the IRD has been completed, or you can still get money withheld at a higher rate. Most Working Holiday Visa-makers (hereinafter known as WHV) make under $48,000 and are taxed at 17.5%. If you don’t have an IRD or make too much money, you’ll be taxed at the highest rate of 33%.

 

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Dunedin, one of the oldest cities in New Zealand, and quickly becoming one of my favorites

 

But, bills?:

If you’re paying for things using your US credit card, TransferWise is your best friend. You have to make sure your Kiwi bank has verified your account (I literally walked in and asked instead of waiting the 30 days to prove I’m a real person), but after that the set up is pretty straight forward. Just make sure that you do a bank transfer instead of the default debit transfer to save yourself a few dollars!

Take note, though, my US cards struggle in New Zealand. I can get crazy discounts from shopping at PAK’nSAVE, but the petrol station won’t take either of my Visas, my Amex, or my Diner’s Club. If I use the Diner’s Club card at the supermarket, I have to swipe it and put in a PIN. Most places won’t take that though, so I have to use Visa chip and sign for it. New Zealand is all paywave, where you tap your card in front of the reader and the transaction is done… it becomes obvious I’m foreign when my card takes so long! Kiwis are astounded that the US just got chips a few years ago and that it isn’t even common to have a PIN on your credit card chip yet – they’ve moved miles beyond that technology by now.

Finding Work:

I really wish that I were a construction worker. They make bank here, especially in Queenstown and Christchurch. But it’s all good. I got connected with a staffing agency as soon as I got my IRD. We text back and forth throughout the week for various jobs – I call it the sampler plate of life. I’ve done a lot of housekeeping for a few businesses, a lot of waitressing for weddings, and a dishwashing gig. I know someone who got a job at the airport through them, working on the steamship, and they connected me with my lettuce job.

As I’m wrapping up this time in Queenstown, I’m not concerned. I’ll either find another staffing agency or hop into the kiwi/apple picking on the north island for a while. If you’re not looking for a permanent, full-time job, it’s super easy to find a job.

 

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I think this hostel is what backpacking was like 30 years ago: on your way to Stewart Island to find work, make sure to stay here the night before.

 

Living:

I’m actually the wrong person to ask about this as I’ve been contentedly hiding out at Twelve Mile Delta campground since I got here. New Zealand does rent by the week, so I fork over $65 every Sunday to the Warden for the privilege of a long drop toilet and not getting a $200 fine for freedom camping. I get a little cranky when Kiwis moan and complain about freedom campers, because they don’t realize that most of their complaints apply to all tourists living in hotels or vandwellers staffing their businesses. My coworkers tell me “Oh, but you’re not like them! You’re just living frugally!” I pay more for this spot of ground than I did for my first college apartment and I still pay for a gym membership so I can shower instead of jumping in the lake because there’s no public showers or sinks that you complain about. But I digress…

Queenstown is kind of astronomical. It’s a small town that literally doesn’t have room to grow with mountains on three sides and a lake on the fourth. But since everyone wants to live here (and Frankton is a decent hike away), I’ve known people that spend $175/week to share a bedroom with a complete stranger. The utter lack of privacy and skyhigh rent are enough to make me shudder away from trying to stay here over winter, but also most places demand multiple references from Kiwi landlords. Yeah, you can eventually get around that, but with a large bed in the back of my van and the freedom to roam, ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’.

Van Life:

I love living in a van, I really do. And I’m madly in love with Goldie, but she’s not self-contained. Seriously, buy a self-contained (SC) van if you plan on living in it while working. Do it. If you’re just going to go on random weekend adventures and live in an apartment, you can get away with a nonSC vehicle and park in the middle of nowhere. But New Zealand is cracking down on backpackers parking anywhere outside of a DOC site where you pay $5-13 per person per night anywhere near a town.

As for stuff? Stop stop stop stop stop! Your backpack is full enough! Bring ONLY the bare necessities! If you’re buying a van, 99% of them come fully, fully, fully stocked with every bit of camping gear and cutlery and stoves and solar showers you could need. New Zealand is a first world country. The Warehouse is an even lower quality Walmart where you can get anything you need for dirt cheap. But there’s normal malls and stores, too. For online shopping, people use TradeMe (a bit like ebay) and Alibaba (Amazon doesn’t work very well here). You will be FINE, don’t bring so much stuff!

 

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Make sure and invest in some spices, and you can create delicious van meals to share with your new mates

 

Last thoughts:

  • Get WhatsApp. Seriously. Port your US number to Google voice, and then download WhatsApp using it. It is so much more efficient as a way to stay in touch with backpackers. Vodafone freaks out when sending pictures, group messages, or locations. But WhatsApp is clear and simple, and you’ll be able to stay in touch with the Germans, French, Argentinians, South Africans, Uruguayans, Brits, Pakistanis and Canadians you meet along the way. Everyone has their home number, so it won’t disappear at the end of the visa and you can stay in touch as they disappear to Thailand and Bali and Australia for a few weeks.
  • The Salvation Army (The Sally’s, as it’s called around here) is going to be your best friend. That and PAK’nSAVE for your cheap groceries.
  • Facebook groups are super useful for backpackers and local communities. Even if you have deactivated your facebook, make a new useless account just to be able to utilize those resources.
  • Be prepared for the politics talk. I’ve been traveling for over ten years and three presidents: you will be talked to in a drastically different way than you have in the past. During the ’08 election, people asked “Obama or McCain?” and then moved on from the conversation. In June 2016, nobody said a word to me about politics. They do here, they do now. You do not get to escape it here, and even if you try to stay below the radar, you will have Kiwis (and every other continent’s nations) ask you questions about the days news or current events in general. If you want to avoid that conversation, prepare ways to deflect in advance. Otherwise, just go in knowing that for the first time, people will want to know more about your country than which state you’re from and telling you where they’ve been/want to visit there.
  • Seasons – and daylight saving time! – are flipped. I started out 17 hours ahead of my mom. When we “fall back” next week (after y’all already sprung forward), it’ll be 19 hours difference. Momma, Skyping with you is getting difficult!
  • Solo travel: you’re only alone if you want to be. Social butterfly me is getting worn out from being around people so much. I’m taking a few days to wander by myself and recharge. Make sure you take care of yourself!

 

Whew! All three of you that read this massive list, well done! I’ve been having a hard time writing lately – I usually write best when I’m processing something, but life has been so even-keeled that I haven’t needed the outlet of late. So, sorry for the word dump rather than stories. Maybe Easter will change things 😊

 

Always,

Eliska

 

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Posted in Backyard Tourism, Lessons, People, The Barista, Vagabonding, Working Holiday

Both Ways Twice

“Just look both ways, twice,” Kahn quipped with a smirk as we discussed the practicalities of my entire driving career and most of my walking career being on the right side of the road and suddenly transporting myself to the left.

 

It’s not bad advice. Sometimes, no matter where you are, you have to look both ways twice to avoid being gobsmacked by a truck… or your own mind.

 
I’ve been living at a place called Twelve Mile Delta. New Zealand, as a Commonwealth country, is mostly fiercely metric but there’s some holdovers from the hodgepodge of imperial measurements that still plague the UK. (A hitchhiker with a posh British accent was complaining about this recently: “Speed is kilometers but distance is miles, height is in feet and inches, but weight is in stones for no reason at all!”) I think if I were to sketch the most beautiful place in the world for me to live, it would look an awful lot like this Department of Conservation campground. The mountains rise drastically from the glacially-fed and forever chilly lake, and I can see the Remarkables in the distance living up to their name and shielding the population center from my sight.

 

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Twelve Mile is about a ten-minute drive from Queenstown, and then depending on the time of day, it can take another ten minutes to get through the ten blocks that make up the CBD. (Oh, can someone tell me if this is an Oceania phrase? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to downtown as the Central Business District in Europe.) With mountains on three sides and Lake Wakatipu on the fourth, there is nowhere for the city to sprawl, so the people pile on top of each other in a place that – not so very long ago – sent its citizens to Alexandra for shopping and groceries. This small town has no place to grow: it makes perfect sense to me why they hate freedom campers and tourists.

 
It can get a little suffocating with only one road through the city. Being away from the busyness is like a breath of fresh air every night, staring up at a million stars and waking to fog rolling over the lake as the mountains slowly allow the sun downward to burn it off. But even with a much smaller DOC population, I’ve managed to find myself a bit of community. Probably 70% of the backpackers in a country teeming with them are traveling either in pairs or posses. Those of us traveling solo are much more likely to be male. I managed to find myself two other gals living in vans at my campground, and we park next to each other and invited other solo wanderers into our circle each evening. We share meals (leftovers are an impossibility without a fridge), and drink whatever free beers were handed out at work while discussing our various countries and travels in all their glories and impossibilities. They call me Grandma – the two regular girls are 19 and 20, and even though most of our adopted friends are 26-30, I’m the old soul who turns in when it’s too dark to see and drinks tea while reading books.

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It’s been delightful the last few weeks, but yesterday, I looked both ways twice.
I keep forgetting that I’m not trapped here, and I don’t have to live anyone else’s life. I don’t have to be Grandma and make pleasant conversation every evening. I don’t have to have coordinated plans about which direction to go next. I don’t have to go on long hikes or deep yoga stretches or jump in a freezing cold lake.

 
So after work, instead of going south to camp, I turned north.

 
I picked up a hitchhiker and brought him along the Cardona mountains to Wanaka, slowing my speech and enunciating my words so that this Frenchman could understand me. He offered to cook me dinner as thanks for the lift, but I needed solitude. I dropped him off and spent the next 24 hours without saying a word. I drove up a highway and a long gravel road past sheep and cows and a gray-blue river and shattered mountains until I came to a ford. The sky was darkening, so I settled in to watch the evening come. When morning broke, the dawn showed off just how brilliant Mount Aspiring National Park actually is as glacier feeding my stream reflected the golden light.

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I had a long, slow, lazy morning. I made coffee just for me, I did a little yoga while twitching away from the sandflies, I read The Little Prince. I was hidden from the road, so I watched dozens of vehicles cross the ford and go on into the parkland. Eventually, I joined them. I drove until I ran out of road, crossing half a dozen fords and reminding myself to be patient that not everyone is comfortable on gravel roads. I saw a sheep with a long tail and spent the next ten minutes trying to remember the nursery rhyme about that. And then I got to the parking lot and felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people.

 
“I should hike this trail.” I told myself.

 
“Why?” my inner voice replied.

 
“Well… because Glenna would! Because Young Adventuress would! Because it’s a place you’ve never been before, so that’s what you always do! Because it’s Mount Aspiring and that’s a cool name!”

 
“But neither of them are you. And you don’t want to be around people right now. There’s always going to be something you’ve never done, and there’s always going to be cool names.”

 
It’s a very strange thing, having to give myself permission to not do something. This wasn’t because of the physical limitations of hurting my knee. This was a mental limitation of too much time around people, too much time around noise, too much time around the beaten track. I still needed silence, I needed more time to be alone.

 
I looked both ways twice, and I turned around.

 

 

Posted in The Barista, Vagabonding, Work, Working Holiday

Unhurried

As humans, we seem to go to more effort to avoid trouble and pain than we do to make things better.

-“The Yes Man” by Danny Wallace

I’m accustomed to living by the clock and to living by the rules.

5:45 alarms, 10 o’clock meetings, drinks at 7. A calendar perpetually reminding me where I ought to be and when, a text message exchange cementing plans. GPS leads me where my mental map isn’t fleshed out, google is at my fingertips to answer any question, if there’s a problem the answer is only a phone call away. Always putting out fires, a life of control where the lack thereof is cause for panic and anxiety.

It doesn’t work that way for a working holidayer.

I’m not convinced it works that way for all of New Zealand.

When I walked into my first shift for my first international position, my preconceptions of what the head of housekeeping ought to be like were shattered. A tiny woman was beaming, welcoming all the temp staff and seemed entirely unconcerned that half of us didn’t have the foggiest idea what we were doing. I was shuffled off with an equally blasé leader to start cleaning rooms. She was more interested in telling me about her new year’s celebrations with her grandchildren and peppering me with questions about Goldie than she was with making sure I knew how to properly fold the bedsheets and which materials to use for dusting.

Instead of treading on eggshells wondering which way is up I feel as though there are no wrong turns here, no rules even exist for me to break.

For the first time in my life, absolutely nothing matters. I wake and sleep and wander as a whim strikes me. The sun greets me as it rises, or fills Goldie with a greenhouse effect to remind me to continue exploring. I examine paper maps and trace routes with my finger, still unsure how to gauge the time it would take: is this a twenty-minute drive, or two hours? I pay it no mind: no one is counting on me on the other end to arrive at a certain moment. Goldie is my turtle shell as I carry my home with me everywhere, and leave her at the fringes of the city while my feet carry me everywhere else.

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It wasn’t all that long ago that my daily goal was 8000 steps per day. I don’t even feel as though I’m walking much, but there is too much to see to stay still.

For the second time in my life, I’m not entirely sure where to put my body. When Dad died and I found myself living on the farm, I was confused how to live without a plan. What do I do with my feet? I think I ought to put me here for the moment. My mind was racing through mud, but my body was just kind of in the way. Where do I tether my flesh while my spirit absorbs the beauty around me?

 

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A tree. I can tether myself to the first tree I’ve climbed in… a decade? More?

These days, I still don’t entirely know where I ought to drag my body to catch up with my mind, but I’m in no rush. This entire world is unhurried.

I pick up hitchhikers and ferry them onward, often never learning their name as we glide back into the rhythm of the two-lane road and wind through the mountains. Instead we share where we’ve come from, where we’re going next. They tell me how they’ve only had to wait a few minutes to be picked up every time they’ve stuck out their thumb unless they’re in a pair. I tell them my hitchhiker notebook is beneath their feet and I ask them to sign it. And just like that, they’re gone again.

My heavy bills for the year are already paid, small enough to be done in advance and leave me free to wander. I just need to work enough to pay for the daily missives: a night in the campground, a gym membership (and shower!), petrol for Goldie, a bit of food. I’m not tied to any one place, any one job out of fear of not being able to pay for my survival. I can fill in temporary help wanted positions, work part-time, and spend the time so free wandering among the trees and rivers and stones and oceans. There is so much space, so much time, and so many more people seem ready to accept life as it comes rather than trying to force it to bend to their whims.

I’m in New Zealand, and the world is my oyster. Where shall the wind blow me next?

 

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The Earnslaw making her way back to Queenstown
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I’m not convinced all of these are pure New Zealand, but who am I to argue with wall art?

 

Posted in Backyard Tourism, Bonnie and Clyde, Changes, Stories, Time, Vagabonding

independence day

The United States celebrates Independence Day on July 4. As of this year, I have my own Independence Day: July 3.

That was the day Ben told me he was moving back to Michigan. My favorite colleague, my trainer, my friend. I told him he wasn’t allowed to drop off the face of the earth, and we started sharing our plans for the future. Me, leaving Denver in a year to start buying one-way tickets and doing seasonal work. Him, live in Michigan for a year and start a business.

We should take a road trip, we decided. A week of wandering.

Erick, our mutual friend, joined the conversation.

No, we decided. It’ll be longer than that. Let’s make it the “Great American Road Trip”!

It was all still humor. All still a half formed dream that would never come to fruition.

I don’t remember who said it first, but someone suggested, “Let’s buy a bus!”

We started looking it up.

The joking stopped.

“Wait, are we really doing this?”

We awkwardly shook hands as a trio. Yes, yes I think we are.

The last two months have flown by. We incorporated Ben’s business, got a joint phone plan, talked to insurance agents, bought an RV, and drank a lot of tea.

Today, I hugged Ben tightly as he climbed into our Breaking Bad-eque RV and began his nomadic trek to Michigan.

I’m not sharing this article with my ten followers on Facebook. I’m allowing it to be open, published. The world can see it if they look hard enough. But my soul is quiet right now as preparations begin in earnest for me to begin vagabonding.

The story will be here. Someday in the future, I want to be able to look back and see what I was thinking. See the journey. But keep it quiet from my audience, while the trepidation still lingers in the shadows.

I will go. I will nomad. I will vagabond.

But while those plans form, while states separate us, I will remember it here in the silence.

Because I know it’s real: I have my independence day.