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