We were rumbling down Route 6 just outside Ottawa, Illinois. My hair blowing every which way, my eyes on the road ahead. I was on the back of a friend’s motorcycle, headed to a state park we frequented on weekends off. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an enormous white and blue van. My heart dropped, there she was. I had finally found her.
I was just shy of my 23rd birthday and at 22 I could not have been more lost in the world. I look back on that year, recalling a girl who is now a ghost to me. I was chained to a life of deadlines & endless worries with time constantly on my mind.
To the world, I was finally on the right track to a fulfilled life. I arrived at my job at promptly 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. At 8:31 everyday, I would turn on my computer screen and silently sigh. Has this what my life has come to, staring at a screen full of spreadsheets & meaningless emails? I was miserable, I despised every minute of this “normal” life. There wasn’t even a window to look out, one to daydream & watch the birds frolic with freedom. At 3:59, I would shut down the computer, and get the hell out of there as fast as I could.
The Van isn’t just a vehicle, she is an important piece to a puzzle. The solution to a problem. A dream in physical form. I had to have her, I wasn’t worried about how nor the consequences. She was my ticket out of dodge, my way out. I wasn’t aware at the time how much the hunk of metal before me was going to change the world.
The Van is a representation of freedom & inspiration. Not only for me, but for others who see her cruising down the highway. I have looked out of my driver’s side window, to see men & women in their later years, grinning like christmas morning. They know, do you?
We, as a society, have been conditioned to have a plan. How many Johnny’s and Jane’s do you know? The ones who go to school for twenty years, land themselves a career before twenty-five, get hitched before their thirty, become grandparents by forty? I’m not saying this is the incorrect way to lead one’s life, just implying there is more to this world than what is considered “normal”.
For me, I don’t want to be sixty years old, driving down a highway in an RV, rushing to see the world before I’m being eaten my worms. I’m not guaranteed tomorrow, let alone today, so why not take life for everything it has to offer? My knees aren’t artificial yet, so how about climbing that mountain up ahead, rather than taking pictures, wishing I were at the top?
I used to be you. I wore a watch on my left wrist, constantly checking the time even though I had nowhere to be. I threw the watch away six months ago, best thing that ever happened to me. My days are no longer marked on a calendar, but captured in photographs of time well spent.
A dream no longer a dream. This is my life.