Whenever people ask me what type of van I have, I answer them and follow it up with a story of how, if I knew that I was going to be living in the van on a more permanent basis I would have got something more spacious. I would see other vans on the road or in the scrap yard when looking for a door and be envious of their spacious interiors, complete with kitchens and bathrooms.

Then I met Samantha. It was in cafe Mekka, a delightful space and coffee shop in Nevada City. She was lost in her art, a pastel drawing of a Hawaiian seascape, I broke her concentration to ask if she minded sharing her spot with me.

It didn’t take long for us to find distractions from our focus in each other and sharing a table in a cafe lead to Thai dinner and a spot to park for the night. I hadn’t noticed it at first, but as the evening snaked its way through conversation I realized how gorgeous she was. Petit little thing with enormous eyes so clear and intricate they wouldn’t be misplaced on the wings of the most majestic butterflies.

I woke the next morning to a care package and a note. I’d hoped to catch her before she left and perhaps capture her beauty in a photograph, a mounting of that majestic butterfly. Instead she left me with something else, something perhaps more valuable.

During her tales she had told me of a time when she was living in a tent and the life which that allowed her to experience. For as she had not enough room to stand, she couldn’t spend all day in her little cave and was forced to get out and see the world. I realized then that having a the van I have provides me with the same gift.

I’m forced to get out and experience nature, bathe in rivers, eat on rocks and meet beautiful people in coffee shops. Yes I have no doubt that heading north into the cold I’ll be wishing I had a more equipped van, one with proper heating an insulation, but this will drive my interactions with others and force me to get out, meet more, do more.

Thank you Samantha.

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