I was 20 years old when I graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. In those 3 years Lopi and I had lived in 7 homes/apartments across Golden, Colorado. Needless to say we were really good at packing and moving. Post college I was ready to settle into a more permanent location for awhile. I applied a bunch of places and got a few job offers. At the end of the day the pay in San Francisco well out weighed my desire to live in Boulder, and I decided to make the leap. Every part of me wanted to stay in Colorado. That was where I felt comfortable, where the tall mountains were, and where all of my friends were. But a different side of me was intrigued by the adventure of a new city. About the thought of starting completely new. Not knowing a single person.
My company flew me out to find a place to live and then hired movers to move my stuff. I didn't have much but it was convenient to have everything already there once I got there. I knew nothing about San Francisco or the surrounding bay area, but I picked a one bedroom apartment in beautiful Marin county within walking distance to the ferry, which I would be commuting to work everyday on. Larkspur was perfect. Immediately I acquainted myself with the amazing trail running and beautiful coast. It was always the perfect temperature. I was ready to set roots and live here for awhile. I didn't want to move again.
But everything changed once I started working. My job had strict hours 9am to 6pm everyday. I lived so far outside of the city that with my commute I would leave my house at 7am and get back at 7pm. On top of this the ferry only ran till 9pm so I couldn't stay out late with my new coworkers. Needless to say, I hadn't made any friends yet and with my crazy work schedule it seemed like I never would. The work was demanding of my full attention and when I got home I would fall asleep within minutes.
Months went by and I became depressed. All I did was work and sleep. I was running but on the city streets of San Francisco. I was never a city person. Lopi was constantly being neglected. He wasn't happy either. I started to get out on the weekends but I didn't have any friends so my solo adventures felt dangerous. I climbed at every bouldering place on the Northern part of the state. Without a spotter, and being depressed I had some bad falls resulting in one gnarly head injury.
Then one day out of the blue a friend from high school in a pinch moved into my living room. Having Jo around made everything better. She listened to me bitch about how much I hated San Francisco and she loved Lopi like he was her own. But my problem still existed. I had one friend, an awesome job, and no time to run or climb. Soon after Jo moved in I met Yosemite. From that first day in that valley my life was changed.
I went to Yosemite every weekend. It was the only place I ever wanted to be. It would pull me through the weekdays and every Sunday my heart would break as I drove away. I could write a novel about the power of Yosemite about the people and the passion. But it wasn't until I met a man who lived in a van that my curiosity was sparked. He recommend the book that lit the fire under my butt to get out of San Francisco. The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer reminded me how silly it was to be spending all this money on a lavish apartment in Marin that I hated. But just as he came into my life he left, as van people do. And sitting in El Cap meadow contemplating my next steps in life I met a practicer of the dark art. A artist of the air.The friends of the ravens. His charm and danger drew me in like a cat.
In this moment I realized I had made all of these friends in Yosemite because these people were passionate. These people loved the outdoors and they lived every moment of there life deliberately. They had interesting stories and happiness poured from them. Many of them jobless, homeless, and poor but happier than any person I ever met in the bay. Why? Because they had nothing pointless consuming there thoughts. They were jumping off cliffs and free soloing rock climbs. They could care less who was winning on the Bachelor or when the Super Bowl starts. They drank from the springs, bathed in the rivers, and laid in the sun. I was home.
The next week I bought a van.
Next step was trying to make it work with my job. I loved my job but the lack of flexibility wasn't working. I tried every scenario to make the van life and my job work and at the end of the day it wasn't happening. Being jobless wasn't an option though. I had spent a month without work once in the van in Colorado and I thought I was going to go insane. I needed to use my brain. I needed to interact with other engineers. At this point it was just in my nature.
So the job hunt began. The nice thing about software engineering is with the right job you can do it remotely. Three months of interviews and I landed my dream job at the awesome company of Github! My suffering in San Francisco was finally over.
In the same day that I signed my offer letter I broke my lease. I said goodbye to my roommate and friend Jo and headed for the mountains in the van. It wasn't hard to get rid of most of my belongings. After a few weeks in a van you realize how trivial it is to keep holding on to all of these things that other people could use. I've found that living in a van has made me more generous and more conscious. I'm more aware of how I am spending my time and how I am treating others around me. Time seems slower in the van. Rarely do I feel like time is flying by and I'm missing everything. I am also more aware of how much I use the things that I own. If something lays around the van for a few weeks unused I have to think about how to free up that space. Maybe I don't need that and someone else could benefit from it.