Yesterday I drove my van from my apartment and parked it on a street to go to work.  After work, I went back to my van, and I didn’t go back to the apartment. It was my first night in the van.

The first thing I did was buy some necessary items:  A mattress topper and other daily items I needed.  Following that, I took my goodies back, organized the van, went to dinner, then drove to that night’s sleeping location.

It was odd at first… I was tired and I drove around looking for the ideal place to park and sleep. I passed up several potential spots just out of nervousness.  It felt awkward for a while, looking for a sleeping place. Also, there were so many streets with inclines, and the streets were narrow, so I felt huge driving down them in my van!

Finally exhaustion got the better of me and I took the next space that seemed good.  My intention was just to slip into the back after parking, not leaving the van at all, and to go to sleep.  But as soon as I parked, I worried that my huge van was blocking a driveway, or that I wasn’t close enough to the curb, so I had to get out and check.  Of course, this made all the lights light up on the van, and I felt like a beacon – here!  Look at me!  I parked here to sleep!.

Finally I got back in and got in the back. It was stuffy and dark.  I had to go through my bag by feeling to find the clothes I was to sleep in, and I had to figure out how to unfold and set up the toilet I’d never used before… all in the dark!  Finally, after changing clothes and creating a huge mess of clothes pulled out of my bag, and after halfway assembling the toilet bag, I settled in for sleep.

I actually slept really well, though that was helped by an advil PM I took before falling asleep.  The whole night was quiet and peaceful.  I woke up a couple times.  Once because I had to use the bathroom – which I did without too much trouble, and other times just shifting positions.  I was surprised I slept so well though, and I didn’t want to get up when my alarm went off.  I wanted to sleep at least another hour.  But I did, and it was still dark outside, and darker inside with the windows covered.  I fumbled around with the toilet bag and the toilet, trying to get it folded back up and gave up on it until later.  Folding the toilet in and out isn’t as easy as it seems.

I drove to a Starbucks (in my preparation I had asked them what time they open – 5:00AM), and had to put together all my morning stuff when I got there, so I could go in and use the bathroom. On my way in I disposed of the toilet bag in a can outside of the strip mall store.  After getting coffee and washing my face, and brushing my teeth, I went back to my van.  Once back, I tidied up the van, managed to figure out how to fold the toilet up again, opened the curtains and drove on my way to a parking spot for the day.

Lessons learned on my first day:

1.  Prepare for the night in advance!  Wow, this is so key!   I could easily have prepared all my things for bed, including unfolding and setting out the toilet, and getting out my bed clothes before leaving for my sleeping location.  Then when I found the location, all I would have to do is slip into the back and sleep.  Lesson learned – Prepare in advance!

2.  Keep my morning stuff all together in a bag, ready to go!  Again… this prevents the fumbling around in the dark.

3.  Just stop and sleep!  I really drove around way too much.

So about the toilet.  Who knew discussing elimination technique would be a primary concern!  As gross as it is, I feel like it can’t be omitted, because I think that it is a primary concern for those of us living in cars and vans.  These bags and the toilet I had gotten online at ack.com.  The bags weren’t made for the toilet, and they are a little small.  However. the powder that turns the liquid to gel… that stuff is amazing!  In the morning, when I went to seal up the bag and take down the toilet, it was like a semi solid gel, and there was no danger of spilling.  So I just sealed up the bag according to the directions I’d read earlier, and tossed it away!  It really wasn’t a problem in the least!  In fact, the biggest problem was my lack of advanced preparation for the night and figuring out how to unfold and fold back the toilet.  I just have to make sure I NEVER run out of those bags or that amazing gel creating powder.  I think it’s called Poo Powder.  Yeah, disgusting!  But this whole process really does deserve discussion.

I’m actually looking forward to tonight!  I honestly don’t know why any single individual, or even any childless couple would throw their money to a landlord!  But that’s me!

Liselle

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