Updated: Sep 28, 2021
When all else fails...follow that dream.
So for nearly 20 years now I would say I have had a dream or a longing or whatever you would call it. And the beautiful thing about it is it hasn't just been my dream alone. I think if there is any defining moment that I would say THAT was the moment David and I looked into each others eyes nodding and going "heck yeah" it was back in 2005 when we first moved to Nashville TN, I had been toying with the fantasy for years but this was when we both connected and knew ...we wanted a van.
We were on our way to Starbucks then Borders to grab coffee and stoll around looking for books when we passed a gorgeous shiny red and white VW T2 van with a for sale sign in the window. It stod there for months but at the price of 8k we couldn't afford it at the time and would now and then drive by just to look at it and sigh longingly. Time went by and we moved back to Sweden..life happened...we had babies, jobs ,a mortgage and several years of illness to deal with and yes we loved our life but finding that balance between what you need to get by and what truly makes you alive isn't always easy. The Beautiful thing is we do tend to dream together. And as we both approached the big 4-0 I think we realized things don't just drop in your lap, you need to make them happen. So step number one ...canoe...we had always wanted one we love being on the water and outdoors and off we went! with that first step taken in a direction of moving towards a life to live more freely. The late night talks began...then the googling and looking at youtube videos of van life and keeping our eyes open for that perfect project car. After a few "holy crap you want that much money for all that rust!?" we finally found her in the south of Sweden and bought her sight unseen with a prayer and hope that the gut feeling was right and this was the one.
Meet Bluebird! our 1988 Chevy G20 conversion van! The claim that she was rust free was ..well let's just say she did need a lot of loving but I mean don't we all?
This spring was one of grinding and sanding and treating the rust as well as building up glass fiber which was a totally new one for both me and David but trial and error and learning new things together
made it all the more awesome when we started to finally see the vision we'd had become more clear. We sort of had an idea of where we wanted it all to go but hadn't quite settled on the exterior look or in what order we were doing things. There was the good ol' " should we have someone do the paint job for us" then realizing heck no we could go on vacation for that amount of money so against much advice we said screw it and went with rattle cans. Is there a better way to do it? absolutely, was this our way of doing it ...yes yes it was. The numerous hours of research that had gone into how to take care of rust and priming and all that jazz left us fairly confident that it would look...ok...lol. We knew this was a beater and we were totally chill with that. Suffice to say we've spent enormous amounts of time at Bauhaus ( https://www.bauhaus.se/ ) and Biltema ( https://www.biltema.se/)
I think as a family we've been at a sort of crossroads for a while now. This past decade has been heavy. Dealing with cancer, ADHD, Crohn's, Autism and more illnesses, the way things were going we were very much turning inward and shutting down because getting out there and doing things was such a big hurdle.
It's easy to think that adventure is only for good looking tanned fit people in their 20's and to accept that the situation is what it is. So we had a choice to make.
Do we stay in the hamster wheel that is work- home-put out fires-sleep and repeat or do we want to take back control and show our kids that it really doesn't matter if you've never done something before you can still go for it and live something amazing.
Naturally involving the whole family as we do it.
There's been a bit of another lesson to learn as well...no it doesn't matter what other people think....it's not a creepy ice cream truck.
And chances are when they see that kitchen you helped build kiddo they'll be impressed. How many kids can say they've built a kitchen in a car?
Or cats for that matter. During the process Scarlet dubbed herself the "van cat" and kept us company supervising construction and making sure things were up to her standard.
So far so good. after removing the middle row of seats to make room for the kitchen with a sink for fresh water and gray water as well as a 12v fridge (we went with the 80liter Cuisine from Sunwind https://www.sunwind.se/product/show/?id=2323&Kylskap-Cuisine-80-liter,-12V ) we put down laminate flooring and decided to leave the couch seat in the back that converts to a bed. Reason being we want to take our kids with us and we need 4 seatbelts in the van. So when the fun machine is parked we fold it down and bust out the sushi roll of a memory foam mattress that we have behind the couch while in drive mode.
The roof is gonna be redone next spring since we are putting in a max airfan that is waiting in the garage but honestly I'm not sure we want to lose the wall covering at this point. There is something just awesomely retro nostalgic about it that brings us both back to those wonder years of the 80's. Yes better storage is gonna go in so that is on the agenda as well but for this season I think when we have finished up on the exterior and changed the vent windows up front we'll call it good for now. And I mean that's the joy of a project that more or less lives and grows with you.
Packing up the family and saying ok let's go it's adventure time and heading out is that feeling of freedom that we've missed and longed for especially 2020 being the way it was.
It's snug with all four of us in sleep mode but it's also a blast in a get back to your childhood do something crazy and just go for it kinda way.
And even when parked at home I have to admit I love sneaking out to the parking lot with a book or my uke and just enjoying some alone time in the van, cus mama needs some space once in a while too.
Usually there will be a little meow at the door until I let the van cat in to join me snuggled up on the bed with my electric candles and coffee.
Waking up to something new and not knowing what adventures await? yeah I could live with that lol.
Oh Bluebird the places we'll go
Thanks for sticking around catch you all in the newest podcast episode!
Coffee with Jess returning September 20th to Spotify!