Archive for April, 2010


No one’s ever asked me directly, but I’m sure some people wonder if vandwelling is lonely. WordPress can tell me what search terms people have used to find my blog, and every so often ‘vandwelling’ and ‘lonely’ show up side by side… pretending not to notice each other of course.

Well after almost five months of living in the van, last night was the first in which loneliness walked right up and said hi to me. I’d been out dancing, some of my dearest friends and a whole extended community of beautiful caring people all around me. After the show we’d gone to the Naam and pigged out, an old and comforting late-night tradition that brought me back to my high school days. We had a really nice time… so no excuse to be lonely, right?

I got back to the van around 3am, and felt it immediately. For 3 hours I listened to my favouritest music trying unsuccessfully to stave it off, and somewhere in those 3 hours it occurred to me that loneliness might always be nearby, but usually masked by reading, friends, exhaustion, music, etc.

What is loneliness anyway? I don’t think it measures a true lack of relationships; at times in my life I’ve felt deep loneliness despite having lovers and close friendships. At its simplest I think loneliness is the evolutionary trait that compels us to gather together: the desire to connect with others improves our chances of survival. But for me its most poignant moments appear when I’m confronted with the ways in which I create distance despite my need to connect. It’s the bleakness I feel as I push people away, without even realizing what I’m doing. Dancing is interesting, because everyone is there to connect through our shared experience of music, but last night I noticed that even in that context, some of the little things I do really don’t make it easy for people to get closer to me.

So no, I don’t think living in a van is any more or less lonely than living anywhere else. But making the choice to live in a place where people can’t even come over to visit says something about my readiness to let people into my life right now, doesn’t it? Not complaining, just noticing. After all, this is a time in my life when I’m supposed to be self-absorbed ;)

Here’s the music I listened to: two mixes by Ana Sia, who I’ve lavishly praised before and now you get to hear her, and one by Max Ulis. You might listen to parts of these and think “Geez, no wonder he was lonely!” But for me they’re familiar and warm, and even in their darkest moments I find them beautiful. Enjoy!

INSTRUCTIONS: Don’t just click on a link; right-click on it instead (mac users: ctrl+click, or 2-finger tap on a laptop), then choose “download linked file” from the options menu, that’ll save it directly onto your computer so you can listen to it anytime. Virus-free, I promise!

160 dripHOP


max ulis 2008


vandwelling forever? pt. II

Hi folks, sorry it’s been so long since I posted, I just haven’t been as nomadic as usual. I’m still on the farm in Roberts Creek, and I still go to the pool in Sechelt every couple of days. On weekends I’ve been leaving the van here and going back to Vancouver for some event or other.

I’ve always tried to keep my entries on this site quite specific to vandwelling, and now I’m finding I have less and less to say on the topic. The truth is I seem to be moving on to the next phase of this adventure, which will be less about wandering around wide-eyed exploring everything, and more about getting to work on building projects. These projects are starting to fall into place: some will be here on this farm, some will be elsewhere on the Sunshine Coast and the Gulf Islands, and I have a few to work on at my mom’s place too. Living in a van has become so natural that it’s almost irrelevant to the other things going on in my life. And since my focus has changed I just don’t have the time every day to work on photos and writing for the blog.

So, sadly, entries here will be much fewer and further between. I’m sure every so often something will pop into my head to write about, so this isn’t really goodbye yet. Still, it’s a good time to thank all of you who read along and encouraged me, you played a part in the success of this experiment. I’m very grateful, thank you!

Best of luck on your own adventures :)


Update: there’ll be no building projects for me, as it turns out this summer will be about math… see above :(

Home #98

Day Road, Roberts Creek.

Throughout this vandwelling adventure I’ve had the luxury of being rather self-absobed. I’m not ashamed of it; I think everyone needs some time to be responsible to no one but him or herself, and I’m grateful that this opportunity has lasted so long. But I always knew at some point I’d have to re-connect with responsibilities of some kind.

Yesterday I arrived at Rolling Earth, a farm/retreat in Roberts Creek run by my friends Joah & Brett. I caught just the tail end of a weekend-long work party, and found myself a little overwhelmed by the bustle. Musical performances, energetic children, communal meals and lots of dirty dishes, an aggressive regiment of buttercup to rip out of the garden, project ideas, permaculture conversations… this morning I resisted coming back to wakefulness for as long as I could, just because it’s all so different from my very easy, very private life. Learning’s hard, but that’s why I’m here: to learn about growing food, about raising a family, about building local community, about working hard on a daily basis. I think of these things as responsibilities; I want to learn to think of them as joys.

I did decide that total immersion in this life was maybe too sudden for me, so I went into Sechelt for a swim and found that reconnecting with that part of my routine helped me feel a lot more solid. I came back and pulled more weeds, caught some loose chickens (my new favourite activity… I might help some more escape just so I can catch them again), walked the dog to the secret Roberts Creek waterfall, had a yummy dinner with the fam. It was a really beautiful day, and I’m very glad I’m here.

Home #97

North Road, Hopkins Landing.