I DID IT!
I made it a full year living (sleeping) in a Box Truck! I emphasis ‘sleeping’ because honestly, that’s mostly what I did in my ‘tiny house on wheels’. I chuckle when I get the repeated questions: Aren’t you claustrophobic in there? Do you have a kitchen? How do you eat? How do you pee/shower? I’m pretty sure I’ve answered these questions in previous blogs, but in short, no, I’m not claustrophobic in there. Other than writing a few letters to loved ones who are locked up in a concrete cell about the same size, sometimes 24/7 with someone they don’t like very much, with a stainless steel toilet and a solid steel bed, I’m only there to sleep. No, I don’t have a kitchen, nor do I miss one. I often wonder what people SEE when they look at my 5’4” 200+ pound, clearly overweight body, standing right in front of them, when they ask ‘How do you eat?’ Sometimes, I run the back of my hand down my body as if I’m showcasing a prize on a game show and answer “Obviously… I manage.” Oh, and I shower at the gym every morning in case anyone is wondering.
Other common questions I get asked, oddly enough, is related to money; How much money have you saved? How much did it cost to create convert the box truck into the mini mansion on wheels that it is? I bet you spend a fortune eating out all the time. The answers to these burning questions are: none, $10k, and no I don’t. I have ‘saved’ zero dollars living in a box truck instead of paying rent. What I have done instead was GIVE a lot more money away to those in need. I feel pretty damn good about that by the way. Shortly after I moved into my box truck (or Button Mobile as I call it), my friend of 25+ years faced a serious hardship; one she is still facing. Her husband had a series of strokes that have set them back financially due to overwhelming medical bills and him not being able to work ever again. He suffers from Aphasia, which is the loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage. They have a home that they are struggling to hang on to with their two children. They now only have her income from two crappy paying jobs that are constantly being threatened due to her having to constantly take her husband to medical appointments. Having the FREEDOM and ability to help them financially has been the biggest blessing of the Button Mobile, honestly. I’ve also donated to other areas that I am passionate about such as Elvis Summer’s Tiny House Project (www.mythpla.org) and The Post Prison Education Program (www.postprisonedu.org) among other programs that help people get back on their feet.
Non-financial rewards of living in the Button Mobile have honestly been too many to list. Being OUT and about, and around people more often has enabled me to meet and get to know some truly amazing souls. I spent a fair amount of time at Taco Del Mar in Burien where not only were the owners and staff super friendly, but so were their customers. I spent many evenings there working on my third book, Torcher Town – Home, (Buy the book here). More people than I could count approached me in a friendly manner asking what I was working on. It was probably the smile on my face or occasional chuckle at my own odd humor that got their attention. As much as I wanted to get a few hundred more words written, or felt I needed to pull more of my hair out during the torturous editing process, I always gave my full attention to whoever spoke to me.
I met Fred, a man who told me that he wanted to write a book about his life. When I asked him why he thought his life was interesting, I got an earful. He was horribly abused by his aunt when he was a toddler, lied to about it by his whole family his entire childhood, did time in prison (for what, I didn’t ask), and had a prosthetic leg related to his aunt’s abuse. I also met Robert, a 70ish year old man who is a real estate agent and a self-proclaimed health nut. Though he didn’t always used to be, he acknowledged his bad choices for 30 years of his life, and enjoyed every minute of them, he said with a wink. He now runs marathons and tries to convince his 43-year-old son to get off the couch, stop smoking so much pot, and do something with his life. When I told Robert about my box truck, he admitted he often sleeps in his Suburban at some of the vacant properties he has listed so he can be honest to his clients about ‘night time noise’. I also met Will who told me he did six years on an eight-year sentence for a bar fight in which he was merely defending himself. After doing his time, he met a woman in a homeless shelter who used to be a correction officer and through ‘interesting’ methods, saved her life, then married her. He, himself, is the product of the sexual molestation of his mother which is a story all to itself; I will reserve that part of his story for the book I may now help him write about his life. On my way back from a burning man event near Las Vegas, I met a young man on my flight home that lives in Burien. He said he walks by my box truck every day on his way to/from his job; a job he is thankful to have after spending a short amount of time in jail. He is now going to school, working and doing great; we are now friends also.
In the year that I have slept in a box truck, I seem to have attracted a lot of former criminals, yet ironically, I received more unwanted attention by the police far more often than any riff-raff. Most of the year I parked on city streets and, knock on wood, the only ‘bad’ things that happened to me are: someone syphoned some gas out of my truck while I was inside sleeping, people jiggled the back door handle to see if it was unlocked a couple times, and I have got a few ‘markings’ that have been PAINFUL to remove, from the police telling me to ‘move’. Juggling two vehicles the few times I’ve moved locations/cities, as I drive a Toyota Rav 4 as a ‘commuting’ vehicle, has allowed me to utilize the awesome company, Lyft, which I’ve enjoyed chatting with the various drivers.
Shortly after my one-year anniversary in the Button Mobile, I resigned from my job in Seattle and accepted a position in Fresno, CA to be closer to my love in prison who is just an hour to the south. I very much enjoyed knowing that to ‘get ready for the move’ I merely had to get behind the wheel, turn the key, gas up, and go. Sure, there were a few other details, but all-in-all, it was pretty painless. The painful part, was arriving in Fresno only to learn that my new job was forced to rescind the offer. So, I am currently sitting at a Starbucks in Fresno, writing this blog using free wifi (well, after spending $5 for a chia tea, of course), not sure what to do. Do I stay here in Fresno and hope the job comes through? Do I find a safe place for the Button Mobile and drive over to Vegas to help my friend and her husband who had the strokes? Do I return to the Great Northwest and try to get my old job back?
As I write this, I honestly have no idea what tomorrow holds as far as a job or way to earn money. However, I do know a few things for sure; I am flexible, friendly, and fan-fucking-tastic. I know that everything happens for a reason and the universe has a way of guiding us on the path that is ours alone to walk. Though I live in a Box Truck, sometimes I feel more like I am riding the rails in a Box Car on the crazy train, that is the Bipolar Express, but at least I’m the engineer and can chose my own scenery and conversations along the tales of the rails.
In closing, I encourage everyone to live more simply—see what you can do without and GIVE MORE to those without. If anyone wants to donate some funds to my friend Tracy, please let me know; she could use some extra love in her bank account.