I’m going to post these photos from a trip we took over a year ago… because this trip was worth remembering, but also because not long after this, we moved from our precious van home into our literal house home in Olympia. You’d think that this kind of trip would make one never ever ever want to move out of one’s van, but I’ll be gravely honest with you and say that these photos do serve as proper memory keepers but they do not serve as a proper representation of the big picture.
First! Enjoy these, because goddamn, we live in a beautiful state!
And Second! I’ll tell you about our (non)adventures in deciding to settle down and buy a house.
It’s been over one year since we bought a house and moved to Olympia. Many of you know our story, but just to recap…
Michael and I had been planning for over two years to move into our van once Madeline turned eighteen and graduated high school. We decided that we’d been “settled” long enough, and I especially felt that I was long due for a life of not being tied down, since I’ve been a mom since I’ve been an adult… and we were going to live our lives within what we called the Infinite Ultimate Roadtrip. I would work as a photographer and Michael would return to his life as an artist. It may not have made sense to anyone else, but it made all the sense in the world to us. Michael slowly built our Priscilla to be a bad ass overland vehicle, with the idea that she was going to enable us to explore all of North America, and beyond! We then sold just about everything we owned, and stored the rest of it. We were so ready.
Then we found out just a few weeks before Mads turned eighteen, that we were pregnant with baby #2! To say that we were surprised is an understatement, and to say that we were overjoyed is a vast understatement… we had very fervently tried to have another baby together for seven whole years, with the last two of those seven years being the time that we allowed ourselves to slowly come to the realization that it would never happen for us, and patiently allow ourselves to mourn that reality. We thought we were destined to not have another baby, and so we (very sadly) came to terms with that and started to put our energies towards our life in the van, a new life outside of raising children. So this was an outrageous surprise!
For months after finding out this news, we mulled over the infinite possibilities of what the future held for us, where I felt certain that we could comfortably raise a vagabond baby on the road… but Michael, literally the day after we found out we were pregnant, started sending me links to houses and properties for us to buy and eventually live on. So a year later, when I announced to the world that we had bought a house, everyone was so shocked and surprised, but in actuality it was a year long battle between a dreamer and a doer, in which the more sensible of the two eventually won.
So, we lived in our van for one whole year; six months while I was pregnant, and then the first six months of Haakan’s life. I think I could easily say that that one year was the best whole year of my life so far. Basically, for one whole year, we were rarely more than a few feet from each other… I was growing and nursing a child, while Michael took care of our little home on wheels like a very sweet & busy prairie dog. Bless his heart, during this time that I felt so utterly loved and cared for, Michael was the one who bore the brunt of life in a van and all its stresses. He was our homemaker and our security guard and our logistics manager… and we weren’t even really going to that many wonderful places in our van! We were boondocking in the city and at friends houses, like a very confusing family of vagabonds who were very much tied down to the weekly grind.
It’s taken me over a year to write about this experience, because when we moved into a house, not only did I feel like my dreams of living life on the road were just disappearing before my very eyes (and they were), but also I felt like I was disappointing everyone else too. I know that what others think of us doesn’t really matter, but we had amassed a following on social media of people who were “inspired” by our adventurous ways, and our constant proclamations of living a life of mindfulness and togetherness. And I know it’s not my imagination that I’ve disappointed several people, because I’ve lost literally hundreds of followers since we moved into a house. I felt like I had to have like, a press conference to answer all the questions on why we abandoned the road and settled on taking the path most taken. I just wanted everyone to know that we were still cool, or whatever…!
But aside from that, mostly, it’s been hard for me to share this because I feel pretty sad about it myself. Which I do honestly have lots of guilty feelings about because it sounds so privileged, to be sad about buying a house. Cry me a fucking river, I get it. I just… I had a big dream, and now that dream may as well be a dream that happened while I was sleeping, that I remember little bits and pieces of when I woke up. It’s gone. It’s over. But it felt really real.
I’m being brutally honest here. I’m crying as I type this.
But Michael was right, as always. Buying a house really was the right thing to do. Our families are here, as is his job. We decided on Olympia because we wanted a small town (smallish… it’s about 50,000 people) with good schools, and what we found was a perfect little house in the best little city with the most wonderful neighbors. It really is perfect.
And I am fulfilling a dream that is one I never ever ever ever thought I’d get to live, and that is the one of raising another child in a home full of love. Madeline lives with us right now, and this time in our lives may very well be the one and only time that my two children are under the same roof, waking each other up by sing-songing the other’s name, laughing uncontrollably over breakfast, waving hello and goodbye at each other through the window, brushing teeth together at night, and getting so many hugs from their mama together all throughout the day. This is what dreams are made of. Truly.
But every week Michael leaves for work, and I stay at the house that feels like a house we’ve lived in since it was built in 1953… and on the weekends we do yard work and house chores, and Priscilla sits outside on the lawn. At night, all alone, I close my eyes and I try to remember what it feels like to be cozied up in a tiny van home filled with shared breath and love, where my lover is always within arms reach and with the world as a backyard of one million endless possibilities. And if I hope hard enough as I fall asleep, then I get to dream that dream once more.