Wednesday, February 6, 2019
When I started this #VanLife adventure I had a different life filled with family and friends, a house, and all the things that go with keeping a house. It was a pretty standard life with all of the ups and downs I suppose and, for the most part, it suited me just fine.
Buying a van and doing a build-out to convert it into an RV was simply to allow me to set up at art and craft shows, selling my art glass across the country while avoiding the costs of hotel rooms. It also offered me the opportunity to see other parts of the country in the hope of relocating our household to a new community in which I could more easily make a living as a glassblower and our little family could thrive. #VanLife was a means to and end and not meant to be a way of life for me.
There's an old saying in relationships that "distance makes the heart grow fonder" and then, for some, there's a cynical addendum, "for someone else." In a polyamorous or open relationship (a relationship based on consensual and ethical non-monogamy) which ours was, one would hope, and more accurately assume, that wouldn't spell the end of a primary relationship but it did for mine.
When I returned home from my maiden voyage in the van from exploring the Pacific Northwest, I came home to a world I no longer recognized and a relationship that had ended at some point while I was away. Oh, there were several extenuating circumstances but because discretion is perhaps the better part of valor, let's just say that was the end of our twelve year relationship.
I left my home, family, and friends, heartbroken and feeling homeless and somewhat worthless. Certainly, I felt less than and I felt very lost and completely alone. That all happened this last October.
I naturally started doing a lot of introspection, soul searching, and otherwise trying to remake or discover what my new life was to be like.
Much of the time since then has been focused on my glassblowing. I'm so very thankful that my career is as it is and that it afforded me the gift of distraction. I've been able to focus, as much as one could with such a heartbreak, on something other than said heartbreak. The roar of the torch is music to my ears and brightness of the flame helps illumine a very dark time for me.
In November and December I rolled into my Christmas show in a major mall in Kansas and poured all of my energy into making glass art and selling it to the Christmas shoppers.
After Christmas I headed to the southwest for warmer weather and to meetup with the 2019 Rubber Tramp Roundup (#RTR) in Quartzsite Arizona. Some five to six thousand of us camped out in the desert for fourteen days, sharing our lives and stories while making new friends.
Being out in the desert I had a lot of time on my hands to think and my thoughts seemed to follow a kind of horizontal spiral: How did everything go so wrong so fast? What did I do wrong? What do I do now? Where do I go? How do I live?What did I want the rest of my life to look like? I had lots of questions with few answers.
After the roundup ended and we all went our separate ways I headed into Quartzsite proper to the annual RV gathering and setup on the main drag at a marketplace making and selling glass art to visitors, travelers, and snowbirds.
As a result of having been a glassblower, going on half of my life, being on the torch sculpting glass is very comforting and meditative for me. Due in large part to familiarity and muscle memory, it allows my mind to wander and engage in a sort of free associative state. If I'm not working out my problems on my bicycle, I'm working them out from behind the torch.
Currently I'm still setup in Quartzsite making glass and I still don't have many answers but I do have a few that seem certain: There seems to be no way to return to my former life. I am now, for better or worse, living full time in my van for the foreseeable future. I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don't want to be cold anymore and I'm going to be chasing seventy degrees and sunsets around the country. One more thing is just beginning to dawn on me, for perhaps the first time in my life, I am free.
If there is one bright spot in all of this, it's the reality that I've fallen more and more in love with my chosen career. It has been the one thing that has brought me the most constant joy in my life and for that, I am deeply and humbly grateful. Glassblowing for me is as a life preserver for a drowning man.
More than that, I really do not know. At this moment, my most pressing question now is: do I get a dog?