My Life In A Van Has Come To A Close: I’m Still Catching Up To Life

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:9

Me, wearing my headlamp when I lived in my van during those last few nights.

As I sit here, talking to God and thinking about the times I had in the van while living day to day all cramped up sitting for hours in the front seat, not having anywhere to go, I look back on those times as being closer to God than I’ve ever been.

He comforted me when I needed it the most, and helped me get through the day not knowing where my next paycheck was coming from.  Not knowing if I’d have enough gas for the day, or eating food that was going to sustain me for the night without going hungry.

It was a time of cramped and public living in a van where windows were where people looked in on me while I read in the front seat, looking at me while I sat in parking lots not knowing where to go in the daytime, sleeping with the windows covered up with blankets hanging down over the windows being pinned up and draped over bungee chords that were threaded through the handles over the doors.  I was a mess then, literally scrambling over the front seats, at first, to get to the back portion of the van with about a foot of space between the cot and the porta-potty I would open up so I didn’t have to use a porta-potty I assumed almost everyone else had to use, in the middle of the night.  I had my dignity to protect.

I had the passenger front seat removed where I put shelves and all my junk I had no room for toward the back of the van.  It was an obscene way to live with a bed fashioned on top of a cot, right there for anyone looking in my side windows to see.  The windows were tinted, but not dark enough to keep out the stares of the curious people who wanted to see how I lived.

The cot with a sleeping bag on top, pillows stuffed underneath, to feel comfy at night.

Privacy was hard to come by, and even at night I had head lights that shined in the corners and cracks of space of the windows that I couldn’t quite cover completely.  I had drapes of various kinds and if I hadn’t been living in a parking lot with a bunch of other homeless people living in their cars, it would have been noticeably strange.  It was a very undignified way of life in every way, even though I felt God pressuring me to stay afloat mentally, psychologically and emotionally.  He was there with me, all the way.  I couldn’t have gone nine months living in a vehicle without God.

Reflecting on this tonight and working tomorrow as if I’ve lived in a house all this time, is really strange.  It’s being shell-shocked and yet happy to be alive.  I have survived.  Now to get normal, again, as if I ever was.  I see how living as a Christian brings you more close to God, and so you see how you were a wild child, in a manner of speaking, perhaps living like a weed in God’s eyes.  I think he knew I would want a normal life someday, but that’s another story.  I worked hard, all for naught.  Now I have another story that is beginning.  I have a dream, as Dr. Martin Luther King once said, famously…

I ponder how I wasted years of my life to wind up homeless, and this wasn’t the only time I became homeless in life.  There are more stories I can share, but at another time, but I have come face to face with the reality of living in a van, then living in this room in someone’s house, then possibly owning a home of my own in short order, would be ideal.

Looking back, I can see how much work I did just trying to remain normal, but being homeless and in a lot of pain. 

How did I go to work every morning, all the while being homeless, living in the van, with the insect screens draped on both sides over the windows, reminding me at all times that I was a homeless person, working for a company where no one knew I lived in my van, driving to work every day and parking in the parking lot of the company I now work for, having a manager asking about the window screens, and my having to answer him?  It all felt extremely awkward.  I felt like I lead a double-life and no one knew but it was harder than anyone could imagine, really.  It would have been an embarrassment of a lifetime, being that I was a temporary employee, to let them know I was living in the van I drove to work in, getting out of the van every day as if everything was normal.  Just me showing up for work like everyone else.  It was quite the struggle.

And looking back on all that I’ve had to realize that I’ve made a huge transition to living in a home from living nine months in a Corolla, then a Dodge Grand Caravan, to now living in this bedroom in some lady’s house? 

Looking back at my having been homeless when I started this job has been an amazing transition.  I may be going permanent.  It looks that way, at least.  A manager is going to ask my temporary agency I work for when my temporary contract will let me be freed up so that I could go permanent with the company.  Now that’s progress, all within a few month’s time.

So I know God’s involved, very much so.  He loves me like a father would who cares about how his daughter winds up.  That’s a lovely thought.  Take care of me, father God.

No one knew.  I didn’t tell anyone at work that I had been living in my van, although I wanted to.  I fantasized about telling a few women who had been friends early on while I was temping at the company that I was homeless and living in my van, but then I got afraid of how I would ever live that down if I wound up not liking the people, then feeling embarrassed that I had told them.  But that’s too complicated a tactic for God, I think.  He wanted me to go about my business as though nothing ever happened.

I look back on the time that I had to get cleaned up for work and all that I had to go through to get dressed and ready with hair, makeup, and breakfast, all from a van.  It was quite incredible and maddening, all at the same time.  But I did it; I came through it, and now it’s over.  It’s living in the past to think about it now and I’ve moved on, quite rapidly.

It’s like I’ve flown out of the gate in some race I was held back from.  The gate was opened and I came flying out and now I can’t look back; it is a painful memory, and I am only able to think about moving forward from it these days. 

I’ve started another website that I have not published and I may have to think again about how I want to earn income if it were to become my business while living in this lady’s home.  She has her own way of doing things that do not compliment my way of doing things, so I’d like to get out of this living situation that I saw as only temporary and get into a house of my own. 

I have dreams of living a nice life, not one where I work for a company that sees me as merely an average office worker, but one where I own my own home, and build a business that I’ve dreamed of, working from home every day, happily, feeling fulfilled. 

It’s time to catch up on life, and with God’s help, I will. 

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