You know those projects that you get yourself into where you have no idea the intensity or level of effort that you are committing to?
So there was this one time I bought a van… her name is Gertrude.
When I first starting talking about the idea of turning a van into a tiny house and traveling around the country, my friends patiently nodded their heads and smiled. “Just another one of Lara’s crazy ideas that surely will fade away” …. “Just let her talk about it for a while and it will pass.” But once I made up my mind to take the plunge, everything happened really fast. My lease was up, I knew I could stay with family in Minnesota and I could use my brother’s shop to build it out. Before I could blink, I was saying good bye to some of the most important people in my life, my community, my home.
I cried only about half the way to Minnesota. Indy has a special place in my heart. And even though I don’t know if I’ll move back there or not, I do know that this is the end of one chapter of Indianapolis. I was also stressed because I wasn’t used to driving a conversion van and Amelie meowed incessantly for the first hour and then spent the rest of the 10 hours to Minneapolis desperately trying to climb down by my feet while I was driving. I had just spent the last few weeks in a whirl wind of selling everything I owned and trying to pawn the rest of my stuff off on friends. I spent my days working and every other moment trying to pack and visit friends (and by visit I mean convince them to bring me food and talk to me while I pack). I said good bye to some very important people in my life. I was given some very thoughtful gifts and notes. It was a hard trip leaving Indy.
I had only pulled the trigger on buying a van the day before my trip to Minnesota. In an ideal world, I would have gotten it checked out by a mechanic before hitting the road, but in typical Lara fashion, I went with my gut and just left. It was crazy to look at my stuff crammed into that tiny van and realize that was my life. Almost everything I owned was in this vehicle. Even the sentimental things like my artwork that I was going to leave with my family was with me. My pets. My clothes. Kitchen stuff. Books. Everything that I needed to live was there.
And the funny this is, I still felt like it was too much. Packing up that van made me want to get rid of another half of it. Ha.
I didn’t have a plan for what was going to happen once I got to Minnesota. I was texting my family on the way up trying to figure out who I was going to stay with. My sister volunteered to take Simone, I could crash on any one of my sibling’s couches, but since everyone either had a cat of their own or allergies, I wasn’t able to find a spot to leave Amelie. So about half way there, I decided that we would all just stay in the van while I built it out. I could move the stuff in and out when I needed to work on it. I didn’t want us to all be split up anyway. We were a family and all three of us would be happier if we were together.
So we came up with the plan of parking the van in my brother’s fenced in back yard and I would have access to their house. I don’t think he realized what he was committing to when I pulled in that night. But it’s family, right? You don’t get a choice in these things, right?? It actually worked out perfectly because Simone (and Amelie) could run around the yard and we were relatively safe parked in a fenced in yard.
It quickly became second nature for my brother and sister-in-law to explain to their friends that Nate’s sister lives in a van in their backyard. Totally normal, right? My nephews very quickly started calling me “crazy aunt Lara.” And it’s become the running family joke when something bad happens someone will say, “Well hey, it could be worse. At least you’re not living in a van, right??”
All jokes aside, it’s been absolutely wonderful to be here with my family. Everyone has been supportive, helpful, gotten their hands dirty, kept me company, fed me and most importantly, I’ve just been able to spend really quality time with some of my favorite people. I wouldn’t trade the time I have with them right now for anything.
And let’s also not forget that Amelie is able to run free as a wild baby panther. So he’s pretty stoked to be here also.
I will be continuing to write about the build out of Gertrude and eventually blogging about my travels once I am finally on the road. I definitely enjoy the comments so feel free to chime in or ask questions!