I’m finally getting around to writing the book I was supposed to write after the North American Road Trip. I’m getting a room at a motel tomorrow afternoon and spending the next 20 hours secluded from all of the distractions of home. I’ll be pouring over all of my blog posts here and making notes for an outline. Then, I hope to hammer out a significant portion of this book during my upcoming week of vacation.
In the process of outlining, I have to set parameters over when my story starts and when it will end. And the starting point is somewhat easy to identify. Although there were other things cooking in the time leading up to it, it was spring of 2016 when I paid off my second student loan and realized that I needed a game plan for when the third loan was paid off. (I can’t believe that was less than three years ago, or all of the stuff that has happened since then!)
Preparing for Life on the Road
For the past several weeks, I’ve been gearing up for what I believe to be inevitable – my return to the road. But this time… permanently.
I’m preparing to give up most of my remaining possessions, including my vehicle, computers and phone, and haunt craft supplies. I’ve been trying to rush progress on the few haunt craft projects I want to complete before these supplies (and workspace) are no longer available. In fact, writing this book now is in part fueled by the need to get this done before I no longer have a computer, electricity, or reliable access to the Internet.
Although I had previously settled on being a rubber tramp, I’ve since reconsidered. Vehicles carry huge costs – fuel, maintenance, insurance, licensing, and eventual replacement. These are costs I no longer have the luxury to afford.
And so I’ve also been debating whether I want to proceed as a leather tramp or as a “semi-rubber” tramp (drifting via bicycle). Although a bike is tempting, my trip today to Wheel & Sprocket in Appleton pretty much made the decision for me (for a lot of the same reasons that I’m choosing to give up my vehicle).
What’s Different Now?
In the 18 months since I embarked on the North American Road Trip, I’ve cycled through more ideas about where and how to live than I can count. I’ve considered living on the premises of haunted house attractions, living in a trailer, going feral, tiny houses, RVs, boats, trains, in the desert, up north, Georgia, Texas, Utah – you name it, I’ve considered it!
In fact, it was just 5 months ago that I was certain I was heading for Dallas when – seemingly overnight – I chickened out and decided to remain in Green Bay. So what has changed? Why should anyone think that I’m more serious now than I was 5 months ago?
Well… you shouldn’t. I can’t say for certain that I’m going to do what I’m proposing to do. I’m proposing big, scary things. Even bigger and scarier than I was proposing back in 2016 and 2017. There’s little reason to think that I won’t chicken out again and choose to keep my shit job in this shit town because it’s familiar and a relatively safer course of action.
But there are differences this time around.
5 months ago, I wasn’t employed. Although I had lost a lot of my freedom when I returned to Green Bay and signed a lease, I was still enjoying a sabbatical and had plenty of money to continue traveling at my leisure. Now I have a job, and the last of my freedoms were stripped away. Now I’m an economic slave, busting my ass in a crappy job for a wage that I can barely survive on. I am now literally in the opposite position I was in back in July 2017.
I’m also thinking in very different, yet very familiar terms. I had a particular mindset in 2016 and early 2017. Determined. Hunkered down. Braced for impact. Embracing risks. Ready to upset the status quo of my life. For all my emotions and thoughts and plans and bluster since July 2017, I haven’t had that same determination for change since then that I had before then. Until now.
And finally, I’m coming to terms with the consequences of this course of action. I realize that if I go down this road, I am probably walking away from my career as a haunter. Additionally, I can probably write-off all of my overseas travel plans to Europe, Asia, and Africa. None of these things are certain, of course. One thing I love about the road is the frequency with which the unexpected occurs. But… statistical probability dictates that I’m squashing my dreams of haunt crafting and international travel if I do this. I’ll probably be shortening my lifespan by a decade or two, as well.
If my life is a story, then we can consider March 2016 to November 2018 as Phase One. There was build-up, the main event, and the aftermath. And now, here in December 2018, I sit at what would seem to be the beginning of Phase Two. Build-up for the next main event. Phase One was a trial run. Wading in the shallow end of a pool. A chance to get a feel for the lifestyle, make some mistakes, learn some lessons. Now I prepare to dive into the deep end of the pool.
I’m still scared. What I’m about to do is going to come with far greater risks and far greater consequences. I’m going to deliberately put myself in a situation where – should I choose to return to a normal lifestyle – it will be nearly impossible. I’ll be walking away from the few resources I still have. I won’t have bootstraps to pull myself up with anymore.