Shifting Gears

It was a strange feeling, pulling out of the National Transmission onto Main Street. Slowly, the quirky creaks and vibrations crept out of the depths of my consciousness. An unexpected moment of regret, of fear, began to rise in the back of my throat. “What was I doing, spending the little money I had, the few dollars I had managed to save, repairing on old piece of shit? Was I making a huge mistake, chasing a dream I had put to rest just months ago? The nostalgia of my fallen ideals pushing me to make rash decisions, forbidding me to stop and think?” I felt my heart beat rising, the blood in my veins crawling and climbing to get out of my body. I became sad, sad that I had failed to stay my course and follow the plan; sad that the van I had built up to be perfect was, in fact, like me – flawed.


My mind jumped months earlier. Harper and I were stuffed in my van, in my zero-degree sleeping bag – a puffy wrapped around her and two on myself – snuggling to keep warm in the negative-10 degree night. I prayed that all of the insulation I had on the windows would keep us warm and help us to forget the fall of mercury levels that night. I knew the gig was up, partially because the Van would barely start up, but really because it had been three weeks of living like this, and it had to stop.

I took a job on a ranch as a relief-milker, two or three nights a week at first, on a work-trade deal for housing. I had always told myself I wanted to spend some good quality time on a ranch, some draw to the romance of the old-west I guess, and here I had my opportunity. The van helped me get to the internship and from the ranch for the first few weeks. Shortly thereafter it died, on the highway, around a blind corner, leaving me trapped in Aspen, trapped in the mountains; my belongings and dog were going to have to survive the winter.


The odometer hit 55, I felt like I was flying down Highway 82, the old clothe captain seat rocking to the rhythm of the pavement, and immediately I felt at home. The nuances of the van began to spark a smile on my face, thinking of all the places that I had been not too long ago. This is why I am still chasing that dream; this is where I belong.

The variety of improvements I had shelved months earlier began to descend their way back into my imagination. The places I wished to go, the people I wanted to see, the views I dreamt of beholding. So much time had seemingly passed, and yet the road was still open, still there for exploring.

Suddenly, I felt the urge to write, the urge to laugh, the urge to jump and yell into the wind. And yet, the temptation for self-pity felt all-too-strong. To loathe myself for the opportunities lost, to dread on the promises broken, to glance at the insurmountable hurdles that lined up before me.

And then, thump – I am at the ranch, the blending of time begins – the various goals I have made in the interim, and the future I have been holding out for, seamlessly collide.

I feel compelled to take everything out of the van, and into my house to begin consolidating and simplifying.

This is my life, and I am going to live it. The Van is back baby.