I got cold feet. That icy burn when reality slaps you in the face. When protecting the dream is better than admitting your incompetence. It was real now, and I started to consider all the things that might go wrong. All the creative ways I can find to ruin it, because I know at some point I will.
The trunk was big enough to carry another car. I could stand, swing my arms around and even set up a hammock from end to end. It would be cool; a hammock inside a van. When I opened my eyes the metal stared back at me, cold, rusty, and covered by rotten plywood. I would have to take everything out, clean it, then start. Start with what?
How the fuck am I supposed to turn this piece of junk into a home? I already told everyone about it. So, what choices do I have? I could abandon the project, bullshit my way out, and carry on. Or I could get my hands dirty for once. I could try to get somewhere, jump in headfirst and see what happens.
There is a social media trend called “vanlife”. People live in converted vans and share their daily adventures from the road. They tell tales of this nomadic lifestyle, a new version of freedom. From turquoise waters to scenic viewpoints, the vanlife influencers brushed a seducing painting. My portrait of freedom. I saw magic in the van life and decided to give it a shot.
For two months, I watched hours of tutorials. I read three books on van conversion and knew enough to give a flashy sales presentation. I knew the models, the features, the pros and cons, etc. But words do not build homes, and besides the IKEA coffee table, I hadn’t built anything that lasted over a summer. Converting a van into a home required practical knowledge, manual labor, and patience. None of which I had.
In truth, I wished to use this adventure to get back my first love. I met Eloïse, a charming horse trainer, at 27 years old. We lived a passionate romance that I ruined by being selfish, duh! She broke up but we kept talking as "friends" for a while. Eloïse was wild and adventurous. She laughed out loud and often; a girl that makes a four-hour date go by in ten minutes. I wanted her back. A trip around the world in a van was my best shot. It could go two ways:
A. She feels the same and is ready to kick some life back into our dead relationship.
B. She moved on. I would embark in the van life adventure and do it long enough to forget about her.
After talking as friends for two months—and two years—I decided to take my chance, to tell her I still had feelings. I recorded myself before phoning her, just in case. It was painful. I felt like Eminem in the intro of Lose Yourself, “Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy”. I rehearsed until I managed to talk without choking, then I called. Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip. Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip. No answer, there was still hope. A few hours later, I rang her again. She picked up . . . heavy breathing.
That was it, the moment of truth.