1. Experience on NOT looking at the rear view mirror while driving.
Vans are at least somewhat different from regular cars – you don’t need to be a worried parent/relative to tell me that cause I get it, okay. The legal age to pursue the desired golden ticket (also known as a driver’s licence) to free mobility is 18 years in Finland. I happened to be quite commonly known as the teenager who was really into Environmentalism and Saving the Planet… Which also meant that I pertained a, let’s say, classically critical attitude towards private motoring even in the countryside where public transport picks you up once in an hour – on weekdays, if you get lucky.
For my Mom on the other hand, grown up in the heavy rocking 1980’s, driving her own vehicle to work and earning some shopping money (which soon needed to be used for my diapers, though) was a sign of a working-class feminism in action. So, my Mom wanted to stay loyal to the empowering tradition and demanded me to land a place in a driving school. “That’s the only thing I have ever asked of you – to have a driver’s licence.” Seriously, that’s how much it really meant for her! Eventually I passed all of the required tests and was finally able to borrow my Mom’s car and drive to high school and my summer job. (Or sometimes to the back of local supermarkets in order to perform acts of rebellious dumpster diving, but that’s a completely other story.)
Anyway, times have changed, and legalized driving seems to be a somewhat useful skill to be applied in activism as well as in working life. But what most people around me don’t necessarily realize, I’ve recently become quite fond of driving – especially in the empty highways on summer nights. Even though I don’t yet own a car myself, I’ve had a lot of practice with a bigger car with no visibility in the rear view mirror due to the amounts of stuff usually needed to transport from place A to place B (tents, tables and such). That’s why I believe I could totally rock both owning and living in a van. Despite of the Environmental concerns I still obtain, I am a social-media-influenced millennial lacking a steady career and family opportunities after all. So, it’s better to hit the road than suffer in stability, right?
2. Growing interest in fixing motors destined to fall apart.
Now, we may have differences in opinion but at least where I study and what kind of friends I have, we all agree that gender is a pretty performative part of our ‘identity’. Which means I never have felt myself super encouraged to encounter and tackle with the anatomy of any kind of mechanical machine. Sometimes I’m not even sure where to open up the bonnet – but that is hopefully about to change soon. As I’ve learned by following various channels of vanlifers adventuring in different parts of the world, vans as machines tend to break and fall apart on a regular basis. After doing a lot of travelling in our neighbouring country Russia, I know that for example bumpy roads, humidity or road salt will hack your engine at some point. That’s why I’m pretty confident I will have to gain at least basic knowledge of fixing my future van in order to survive out there. Okay, I don’t have the skills just yet – but the motivation sure is there.
3. Lazy cook living for kettle-made meals.
Believe it or not, publicly at different kind of parties and events, I’m a pretty devoted, successful cook but at home I am an unbelievably lazy housewife-candidate-by-appearance. (I am trying to teach you a lesson here, guys… Moral of the story is to never judge a book by its covers.) Generally I just tend to have much more important things to do than to fix a complete, multiple times chopped and fried, meal just for myself. As a trustworthy millennial, I am specialized in opening cans, microwaving stuff (varying from oatmeal to frozen bread) and using ketchup as a general sauce on top of literally everything. Beans and toast with a nice cup of coffee – no problem in sustaining me like, forever! With finally making the decision to buy my own electric kettle, I see no limits to the cooking possibilities correlating with the future time spent on the road.
What it comes to the fridge/freezer situation, the former statement applies to them as well. Being vegan, I don’t feel obliged to necessarily have a cooling facility for my food since my diet mostly consists of oats, noodles, canned goods, fresh fruits and veggies plus hot beverages (such as coffee and tea). Also, the food that my dog eats, doesn’t need to be refrigerated either. On the downside I love to mix frozen berries into my oatmeal or smoothie – but I have already found a decently satisfying (and healthy) solution which comes in the form of dried and powdered berry mixes. Sure, they cost a little bit extra, but health is the most important asset we can have in life, and I’m willing to invest in it. Secondly, the terrain in the Northern sphere, where I’ve planned to locate most of my van journeys, is filled with wild blueberries, lingonberries and raspberries (sometimes even cranberries and cloudberries in swampy areas). Talking about the wild herbs and mushrooms ready to be foraged, dried and preserved…
4. Properly organized CD collection.
As you may get to know from my next posts, I am at least somewhat into music (heck, who wouldn’t be?). And for me, the aspect of tuning into my favourite CD (yes, I happen to belong to that generation…) while driving down the highway serves as the ultimate act of nostalgia. As a matter of fact, I have managed to collect a rather good collection of different albums, starting in my early childhood when my grandma used to buy me second-hand stuff from a co-worker’s kid named Jenni. Usually it was clothes or toys but I recall one time she favoured me with a bag of old CD’S. Good ones – cause I still have some of them (for example the Madonna ones).
Lately I had an idea to invest into proper CD cases in order to minimize the space and weight that my necessary collection was taking. That project ended up becoming three individual trips to Clas Ohlson (why do every functional chain store around here come from Sweden?) but I finally have my collection set and sealed – ready to be opened in case of an adventure…
5. What it comes to my hair, I might be a bit of a… cat?
The last point on this list might drive you (in a van or not!) away from my already poor start of a blog. And that’s exactly why I saved it last to increase the likelihood of having you made it this far. And since I’ve already spent more than generously time on second-guessing on this whole social media thing, I’ve decided to be brave enough to share this kinda intimate fact about myself. Are you ready cause here it comes…
I think that deep down I am a cat! I don’t think so only because of the improvisation of meowing I usually do when I am in the desperate need of C-O-F-F-E-E and too lazy to get on my feet to stumble down to kitchen. No, I also am deeply terrified of having water running all over my head. And by this I don’t mean a gentle touch of a summer rain or a highly annoying layer of snow creating an unwanted wet look after entering indoors again.
Like Jenna Marbles, I could even argue that washing your head isn’t even particularly healthy for you scalp nor the hair itself that ought to be glowing and flowing femininely in the air like in the Shampoo Commercial that has haunted you from your early childhood. But I bet that the fact that most of the time I just braid my hair and hide the greasy parts under a cute hat means that I could actually make it driving and adventuring around the wilderness (still posting Instagram-worthy shots on social media). With aspirations for that active van girl type of look I also hope to be manifesting that into my near future! Then you can say with a clear conscience – ‘bitch, you only brought it on yourself’ if I ever complain about my unwashed hair.
P.S. To be perfectly honest, Finland does have the reputation of being the ‘land of a thousand lakes’. But who knows where I’ll wind up? You gotta be prepared to face even the extremes which means NOT being able to jump into a lake for a quick fix.