Well, here we go again. Rather, here we’ve gotten going already again.
28 September marked the beginning of our secondary jaunt. We were at home in Vermont just long enough for me to rejoin the cast of Radium Girls, and put on the production that was originally scheduled for the spring but was stymied when damn near everyone in the cast and crew came down with the COVID. So it was a short return, but rewarding to be back on stage, especially with such a wonderfully talented cast. It felt like coming back to family.
At any rate, I had intended to do a bunch of stuff around the house (maybe find a general contractor who shows up to do work when you pay them – oh wait, that’s another story…..but for real – I’ve had this beautiful blue floor tile sitting in my garage for the last year just waiting for someone to put it in my bathroom and kitchen), and on the van, and in the yard, but it basically rained for the duration that we were in residence, so much of that didn’t get accomplished. Instead, I took some naps, got the interior work done on Hecate (ie fixed the step/bed that we broke, touched up some paint, flushed the plumbing to try and stave off future questionable scents), and did some house maintenance on the interior of Gatsby’s Getaway, including repairing the lazy susan that has been the bane of my (and my cleaner’s) existence for quite some time now. Some weeds got weeded, the lawn mower shit the bed, so the lawn was a bit on the wild side until I got back on my lawn guys schedule, but largely everything outside just got rained on. And then rained on some more.
Let’s take a little tangent, shall we? Someone at some point during this duration said something to me about being ‘lucky,’ and I am going to say, it rubbed me the wrong way. I have, at some points, had some luck. Yes. However, this comment was in relation to my life as it is right now, doing the van travel. Here’s the thing: nothing has been handed to me. Ever. In. My. Life.
I grew up poor, in a shit family. I grew up afraid and people-pleasing. I grew up trying to make everyone happy and to not ruffle feathers, or even give an opinion, because I wasn’t allowed to. I grew up learning how to be as small as possible so that I might go unnoticed and therefore safe. That’s not what I would call lucky. That’s not what I would call setting me up for success. Statistically speaking, my sister and I should have probably died of an OD in a gutter somewhere already.
So my ‘luck’ might have just been that I was able to get the fuck out of there as soon as I graduated high school because the Navy said they’d take me. Or that might have just been a really fucking good decision (among a bevy of bad) that I made (because honestly, that was one of the major turning points in my life). It makes me a little cranky when people refer to my current lifestyle as ‘lucky,’ because I worked so fucking hard to get here. This has been a goal of mine for years, and I’ve made small choices and ballsier ones that have allowed me to make it happen.
It was a risk that I took moving from Germany nearly a decade ago to a place I’d never even been (Rhode Island), and didn’t know a soul. But what that did for me is to KNOW that I have what it takes to do hard things. That is what allowed me back in 2020 to say goodbye to that life and want to try a new one up in Vermont. I knew I could, because I’d done it before. And quite honestly, that life didn’t turn out how I’d envisioned it either, but that’s what allowed my van dream to come to fruition before the timeline I’d had in mind for it.
The story behind all of that is that back in the summer of 2019, and friend and I had gone up to Arlington, VT for a long weekend. We had a glorious time frolicking in the Battenkill River and hiking in the Green Mountains. At the end of that holiday, I’d made up my mind that I couldn’t live the rest of my life without a Vermont vacation home. As my neighbor, Bill, would tell you, he’s never heard me say something I didn’t follow through on, and this was the case here. I’d scraped together all of my savings, and by the time 2020 rolled around, I was ringing in the New Year at Gatsby’s.
The OG plan was to maintain residence in Rhode Island and come up to Vermont once a month or so and rent it out the remainder. Did I know what I was doing? Not entirely, but I had a vague outline. So when COVID came raging in with all its fury, shutting everything down, Gatsby and I quarantined up in VT. When the gym I worked at eventually re-opened, it was with great trepidation that I went back. Not only had I been unhappy working there for some time, but just the amount of people in Rhode Island was appalling (I know, it’s hard to imagine me not loving to be around people being incessantly).
We’d gotten used to the quiet and the solitude that Vermont provides, so within a month of returning to work, I put in my notice, and threw the remainder of my savings toward a money pit (didn’t know it, obvi,, at the time) in Podunk, VT about 90 minutes away from the Getaway. I initially thought the new place, dubbed Anchors Aweigh, was quaint and charming, but it was soon apparent that there is a such thing as TOO remote….. there was absolutely no sense of community that I could find, and there were a bevy of things that kept going wrong with the joint.
My plan had been to bop back and forth between residences, renting out one or the other, and I did that for a while, but I hated every second spent at Anchors. And Gatsby’s was my hot spot for rentals, so I was there all the time. The plan had been to do that for a few years, save up again, and then make my foray into van life, but just over a year after purchasing Anchors, I put it back on the market, realizing the toll it was taking on my mental health. Long story short(er), although I didn’t walk away on top monetarily with the sale, it did allow me the freedom, and enough cash to throw at the van dream to get it started.
So no, luck had less to do with it than a series of choices. Some people might actually be lucky. Others find a way to work for what they want. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Sorry, I’m actually really crabby today, making it possibly not the best time to blog (btw, thanks, Robin, for letting me sob into your coffee this morning), but that’s neither here nor there at this point. Back to the here and now. I haven’t written a lot because I’ve been, in addition to my usual laziness, yes, a bit in the doldrums. Be it the season, the weather (it has been raining wherever I am for about 80% of the last 3 weeks…..I am clearly not cut out for the PNW in winter), the post-show blues after we wrapped Radium Girls and I once again feel like I lack purpose, sweet sweet lady hormones, the double-up of COVID booster at the same time as my flu shot, or just my everyday anxiety, which has been extra amped up lately….take your pick. All I can do is show up every day and keep trying.
We got back into the swing of things. I hadn’t driven Hecate since we rolled back into Wells, and it was once again a bit of a height adjustment (after readjusting to being back in the Crosstrek, which was its own ordeal – is reverse vertigo a thing? Because I felt like I had that the first few times I drove it, not to mention that I thought my ass was about to scrape pavement, and that I might be a millimeter away from Fred Flintstoning it).
We drove to a golf course in Oakham, MA for our first overnight (I’ve been spoiled in many ways by MI, the price of G&Ts there being one of them….. $18 for two well drinks seemed obscene), and were treated to a beautiful hilltop view of the course. We’ve spent time with some of my loveliest friends, and all Gatsby’s Aunts & Uncles. Basically, all nights in Rhode Island have been/will be wandering from friend’s driveway to friend’s driveway.
I had two pieces of art selected for a show here in East Providence titled The Art of Darkness. It's an annual show that I've been a part of for the last several years, and this year it runs from 8 October - 16 November, with the opening reception and awards ceremony on 27 october from 6-9. More info on that can be found at HeARTspot Gallery | East Providence RI (heartspotart.com).
It was planned that last weekend Oliver (of Brooklyn Camper Vans fame) would be coming up for the remainder of the van repairs (the AC, the security camera, and a leaky gullwing gasket), but the arrival of Hurricane Ian has us putting a pin in that operation, so that will happen sometime this weekend after the deluges have ceased.
I’ll make an effort to keep you posted, but you might not hear from me again until we’re back in the Midwest. At least this time around, I've learned to not have a set itinerary. We'll get there when we get there.