Walmart offers free overnight parking/sleeping in your own vehicle, alongside with the cheapest of pretty much everything (new) and you can be sure that there will be one in every bigger city in the States. They also apparently don’t treat their employees so nicely and their produce is probably far away from healthy. Oh well. We are traveling. We have to lower our sights. Saving is everything. The money you have worked for many months beforehand just slips away while none is coming in. It’s scary. Cheap and uncomfortable is what’s left. A lot if the time.
I am currently sitting under a tree that keeps the sharp light of a lantern in one of Santa Fe’s Walmart’s last corners away from interfering with my screen, and later on, my sleep. Also, it will provide shade in the morning so we can be hopeful not to wake up in a soup of sweat, tomorrow. I am counting at least two other walmart campers tonight, possibly more in the other vehicles around. This location is very busy, open 24 hours, not selling liquor at all, which is uncommon, and also not having a Mc Donald’s to its right hand side, also very uncommon. We have seen a few drug addicts lingering in the dark behind the building. I am happy in our Subaru Outback, and am seldomly bothered by all the people around us. They could possibly watch me sleep in an ugly position or accidentally exposing too much skin. If I have to pee at 4am I just do it right next to that tree. Under that lantern. Truly, I couldn’t care any less. Why? Because honestly, I don’t feel like those 2 billion of us out there do either. Why would you? There is so much more out there to either admire or worry about. Your choice. If you care for my white behind, go ahead, I do not.
Wondering about these other campers right next to us, no one ever being very talkative, I am reminded of all those strangers that do ask about us. When we tell them what we are doing, the startling response is (99% of the time):”You are lucky!!!” I am immediately overwhelmed with a flood of hot and cold when I hear that. Usually, avoiding eye contact but smiling shyly, I say:”Yes, yes, we are, very lucky.”
We do not have to get up at any certain time in the morning. Neither do we have an end time set at all for this way of living. We meet different people every day, each of them could possibly teach us something for life. We see different landscapes, we are free to drink beer on any day of the week we choose to or watch movies until 1AM. We get to taste a variety of foods and dive into different cultures. We do not pay rent. We do not have a home to worry about. The things we own aren’t worth that much. We can choose to spend our day in nature, or in the city. We are free birds, going with the wind, passing through, in sunshine, rain or thunder.
I do believe in luck, to a certain point. Some of us, surely, are privileged being born in a certain country or family that will promote adventures alongside with possibilities for educational and spiritual growth much more easily than others. I add myself to that group of privileged without the blink of my eyes. Fortunately, I never got spoiled and always had to work, sometimes more, sometimes less, to get where I wanted to go. And where I wanted to go and where I went had little to do with luck. Those were personal choices, they included work, they included studying, heartaches and break-ups, arguments and worried relatives and friends. They involved and still actively do, situations of total loss of control, feeling of disconnectedness and loss, discomfort, body aches, home sickness, confusion, dreaming of future projects, and so on. Imagine getting sick. In public. Or just having a moment of sadness. And no where to hide.
We all always seem to see more fortune in what others have; from the food they order, to the way they live, to the way they look.
People telling me how lucky I am gives me both hot and cold waves because it makes me feel instantly that to some point they receive themselves unlucky. I want to give them a portion of mine, but in the short time that we share, it is impossible. What I want to tell them is: It is all in your hands. You have the power. You can dream big and make your dreams come true. You can be happy with what you have if you are willing to. You can appreciate your husband, kids, your bed, kitchen, your cinnamon and your beautiful baking tray. You can love the morning and the evening that you have, and feel just as lucky as I do about my morning and evening. And believe me, after having traveled that much, I often do not feel all that lucky about it. I miss my best friends, my bed, my mom and dad, my sisters, the roads at home, the seasons of central Europe, and so on.
But you, all of you, telling me how lucky I am, you make me realize that I am, because I am alive. And I can feel incredibly lucky about this moment, sitting in the car, writing, if I am willing to feel that way. And then I did. And I do. And I try to. Because now I know, if I am not appreciating my lifestyle now, in this moment, then I probably never will, not even when it is the one far away that I am dreaming of too much, in the now.
Cactus Drawing by Simona Ciraolo