Home Is Back on the Road

It’s always strange leaving the comforts of an apartment and moving back into the Sprinter. Each time before we hit the road again, we can’t help but wonder how we’ll fit everything back in the van, manage with a one year old baby and a geriatric dog, keep up with Outdoorplay, and fit in enough time for me to write, or at least take a shower before bed.

Below, Sol and Tree enjoying the last night of sleep in our big Mendoza bed.

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Life is certainly different on the road.

It’s harder work. Far less comfortable. Much more uncertain.

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And, yet, for us, it’s infinitely better.

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Sometimes bath time is in kiddie pools…

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and kitchen sinks.

Bath Time in Sink

Sometimes dinner is in a fancy restaurant….

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whipped up in a hostel, or served a little too late for someone’s taste.

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But we always have enough to eat…

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Enough to drink…

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There is always time to play…. DSC03564

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And time to smell the flowers…

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And, of course, time to make new friends.

Sol making a friend

And isn’t that what life is about?

Driving south for 3 days from Mendoza to where we are now in Puerto Varas, Tree and I had a lot of time to talk. I realized how much I missed these conversations, the ones that come when there isn’t the daily grind of divvying up who will do the dishes, mop the floor, and pay the electricity bill, when what really matters starts to surface. It’s on these long drives with Tree in the Captain’s chair, me by his side, Soleil sleeping in her car seat between us, and Kiki’s head resting on the baby’s feet that I fall deeper in love with my husband, my family, my life.

As Tree and I speculated together on how Soleil might react to life on the road again, we considered the meaning of home, or rather, what it means to not have one. Right now she’s just a baby, but in years to come, will Soleil miss having a real home? Meaning, will she long for an actual place filled with her belongings? A sanctuary to call her own.

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What if Soleil wants to nest?  What will the longterm effects of homelessness be on our child?

We have friends who love their homes–who need their homes–who would feel uprooted and unsafe without them. And even though Tree and I aren’t interested in having our own home, we sure are grateful for the homes opened up to us by family and friends. Every time we are back in Hermosa at Cyndi’s house, in White Salmon at Cheryll’s house, in Seattle at Indra’s, in Bellingham at Noni’s, or in Santiago at Kate and Martyn’s house, we soak up the familiar surroundings and take a deep breath of comfort.

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When we slow live, I do my best to create a makeshift home. I paste some modern art postcards on the wall, decorate some pillows to throw on the sofa, cook up a storm, occasionally buy flowers, light candles and burn incense. We like it at first. Slow living definitely has its perks, like not having to share a kitchen or wear flip-flops in the shower. Plus, as a rule, we only stay in places we like and want to get to know better, like Mendoza.

But, still, something wilts in me when we stay in one place for more than two months. Within a week or two of settling into our ‘home’, we develop routines and divide up the labor, which makes sense to do, but the next thing we know we feel hemmed in by our self-made, conventional constructs and overwrought by a surprisingly stressful monotony. It doesn’t take long before we bicker. We glare. We can’t stand it anymore. What was once a home becomes a stifling box.

We can’t get out of there fast enough.

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I know some people thrive in a home.  But we don’t.  For us, home is not a place. It’s more a frequency where we connect, and when we’re on the road, we find this frequency almost effortlessly. We share a common dream and bring our best selves to meet the daily challenges of realizing it. We shine as a team.  There’s no conventional way of handling road life.  There’s no history, no tradition, no role models. We make the rules up as we go, and then break them at the next turn.  We love it.

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After watching Soleil easily adapt to road life this past week, I feel confident that although she may not grow up in a physical home in a safe, quiet neighborhood surrounded by familiar faces, she will know home as a frequency. She will know it as an intimate connection shared between her tribe that makes each of us feel secure, loved, and inspired. She’ll know it as certain rivers, valleys, beaches, mountains, rock walls, and trees. 
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She’ll understand home as her power to safely navigate through the world and create community wherever she is. 
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Home for her will be a place inside that she takes with her wherever she goes.

-Stevie

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Comments

  1. Home is where your heart is,
    and it seems to me that where ever you three are,
    if you are together you are HOME.
    Sharing these past months with you has been beautiful,
    and I am grateful to you for sharing your love, your adventures,
    your world.
    Love mom/Noni

  2. Val Vanderpool says:

    EFF YES!!! Awesome, Stevie! You’re all going to love, love, love Patagonia! I get the chills thinking about it! xoxoxoxoxoxo

  3. Beautifully written Stevie! When we were on the road, we often longed for home…or rather, not home but the COMFORTS of home, a place to cook, a comfortable bed, having SOMETHING that was ours that didn’t fit in our backpacks. Now that we’ve been “home” again for several years, we can’t wait to be on the road. I’m not sure there is true peace in either option. Once we get back on the road we really want to follow your example: stop, sometimes for several months, to nest in, spread out, enjoy not moving, but know that, like you, we will again feel the pull of the open road and places yet undiscovered. As for Sol, you often don’t miss what you’ve never had so perhaps she will just continue her nomadic ways. Either way, plenty of time to worry about that later! Happy new year to you all. XOXO

    • Thank you Rhonda! I always love hearing from you. I’m thinking that all of us nomadic souls need to get together to create a traveling commune so that we can all enjoy being on the road for a few months and then relish in instantaneous community when we stop for a while.

  4. Corrin Crone Phillips says:

    Oh man I just wrote you the longest reply ever , from bed when I’m my most contemplative and apparently I didn’t hit send. Well, you started my day with me in the quite of the early morning and that makes me super grateful. Basically it said I love you, you are amazing and place doesn’t have to be a deep well worn trench. You inspire me so much and I have so much to share on this topic. Let’s Skype next time you settle in. Beautiful piece Stevie. But the question that remains is how do I live my most authentic (nomadic) self within the constructs of a very familiar society when my need for place is as nurturing as my need for ‘new’? We don’t accept social norms when it comes to living, work, education, etc. So why do we accept them in our homes? Confines kill creativity. Remember that laundry pile? Well, it’s mine now. I’ve taken that NYT piece to hart and gave orderliness a big FU. I’m fueling my creative passion in the most unexpected way and I have come to realize that those deep, well worn trenches called convention were of my own making. All this time. Oh I love you sooooooo.

  5. Audrey Kranz says:

    Great post, Stevie. Home is truly found in so many different ways and places. It’s a beautiful thing.

  6. I agree with everything you say and know that Soleil is, and is going to become, quite an amazing human being.

  7. Love this! I’ve been trying to write something about this for awhile that is lingering in my drafts folder with nothing eloquent to say except life on the road rocks. I’m amazed how stagnant I start to feel if I’m in one place too long. I’m sure it will change as our trip evolves, but for now, the open road is our friend.

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the great writing.

  8. Hey Stevie!! I admire the way you and Tree live your lives. I wish I could have experienced just a quarter of what you both have done, but you knew me when I had my 1st daughter, it was impossible. But it’s okay I’ve lived the way most others have, with a full time job, cook, clean, homework, then bed. Of course, wine on the weekends. I’m curious though, what you and Tree love for yourselves, as Soliel gets older or when she gets older, she may like/love your choice of living because she doesn’t know any difference. Or she may not like it at all. What’s for you just may not be for her. My girlfriend is a vegetarian, her daughters eat what she eats now, but she realizes once they’re older it’s their decision wether to eat meat or not. I don’t like being the odd woman out, but I know some people who’s parent was in the military and they didn’t like the moving around changing schools. They wanted the consistency in life. Same friends not new acquaintances.
    Anyhow, you’ve come so far in your life since we were 21/22 years old, you were a great friend then and you’ve grown to be such a beautiful and intelligent woman! I wish you and your family love and always happiness!!

    • Hola chica bonita. Thank you for commenting. It’s always extra special to hear from a long-time friend. Tree and I have spoken extensively about the ‘what if Sol wants to settle down when she’s older’ scenario, and, honestly, I think that if being still for a while is what she needs, we’ll have no problem doing that. In the meantime, I think she has a lot to gain from this unconventional style of living. One of the great things about the way Tree and I live is that we’re totally flexible. Honestly, in 10 years, Tree and I may want to take a breather and start a homestead or live on a boat in the Caribbean or just f’n park for a few years too. Actually, we’re thinking Vegas would be a great place to settle down…know of any front yards we can camp on? 🙂 I love you girl!!I I’m equally proud of you and super happy for your happiness. I love you. xooxox.

  9. Love this post, Stevie as it is exactly what we have been talking about. Mixed feelings of loving the comforts (we have hot water!) and not really loving the routine we’ve gotten into. Thanks for putting some of my feelings into words!

    • Hola Angela!! Thanks for commenting. I know you know this dilemma well. You know what I find strange is that I didn’t used to struggle this much with sedentary life. I’ve always been a wanderer, and Tree too, but now we get the itch and feel angst and even get downright crabby after only a couple of months of apartment living. I think we’ve gone feral. We’re like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness. Don’t come after us, Angela. Save yourselves! 🙂 xoxo.

  10. Thank you for writing another wonderful post, Stevie! I think about how I define “home” a lot and that has only intensified on the road. I’m working toward feeling more grounded in my body so that wherever I go, I am home. I also completely relate to that feeling of stagnation that takes over with staying in one place too long! Looking forward to your next post 🙂

    P.S. Whoa, weird. The song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros just started in playing in the coffee shop where Dakota and I are perched. Coincidence?

    • Thanks Chelsea. I’ve really been enjoying following you and Dakota. I posted your vision board as my homepage on my computer. I LOVE IT!!! Thanks so much for sharing it. And, I love hearing that “Home” played as you were writing me. That song came out when Tree and I hit the road and, needless to say, it spoke volumes….instant classic for me. Looking forward to when our paths cross. xo

      • Chelsea Gale says:

        Such a great song! I’m looking forward to paths crossing as well 🙂 Perhaps we could utilize technology to speed things up – Skype date maybe?

  11. Right on Stevie. Nice post. As you can imagine, we relate!

    • Yo, I think you guys should ship from the USA straight to Columbia instead of going back through Mexico and Central A. Same price as shipping around the Darrian Gap. Just a thought! -TREE

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