Pressing Pause on Van Life, and Homesick for a Broken Toyota Hiace


For the first time since I set out on my journey, I am homesick. It’s been three weeks of sleeping on random couches and airbeds and inside parked Allroads, in locations dotting the greater Los Angeles region, and I miss stability and a home. My trusty Toyota Hiace, Marsha, is still at the Truck Hospital undergoing rather complicated surgery, and the pace is understandable. This is not an easy fix, there are many outside parties involved, and the fact it can happen at all is something I’m thankful for (once again, shout out to the folks at World Famous 4×4 for agreeing to tackle the impossible!). But I’m stuck in Los Angeles living the opposite of the life I had when I first arrived and had her. Instead of living it up in Mercedes Benzes I don’t own on Rodeo, I’m pinching pennies to save for repair costs and staying put in a vacant home a friend has let me crash at indefinitely. Above all, I’ve found my spirit for adventure to be dulling. 

For a while, I considered flying back to Houston, to the bedroom another friend kindly lets me borrow in his home in the suburbs, eventually coming back to California when the van was safely repaired to set out again, reinvigorated. But for as much as I appreciate his generosity, the idea of going back made me feel worse than sticking it out until the van was back. I am trying very hard to not burn myself out. But I don’t want the kind of stability I had before in that spare bedroom, and I found myself repulsed at the idea of being back in Houston.

[Editor’s note: Writer Victoria Scott is taking off to travel the country this summer and explore car culture in a JDM 1995 Toyota Hiace, and we’ll be chronicling her adventures through a series on The Drive called The Vanscontinental Express. It’s natural to yearn for the open road at a moment when it feels like the world is waking up from a yearlong daze. But as a trans woman looking for her place in the world, Victoria’s journey is anything but your average road trip. This is part 11; you can read parts one through ten here.]

Despite the literal highs and lows of traversing mountains in a van, and the ever-changing scenery that accompanies it, I had found a lovely rhythm. Every morning, I would wake up and appreciate the view I was gifted with. I would brush my teeth and shave with a bottle of water; even on days where I’d most likely not see another soul, I’d put on eyeliner, a dash of concealer, and lipstick, just for my own comfort in my body. I’d have a caffeinated Clif bar and a protein shake, and write until the shade of the van no longer covered my laptop monitor screen. Then I would pack up, drive down the mountain, find myself a coffee shop, and look for where I’d head that evening, and repeat it all over again. For such a nomadic life, it had a wonderfully comforting pattern, itself its own kind of stability. Despite being physically adrift, I was mentally moored. 

And road trips have a natural progression to them that I find immensely enjoyable. Even on days where I’d only drive a handful of miles, I still moved closer to my goal—whether that was the next event, the next city, or simply moving on and writing more stories at the top of a different peak—and the combination of the progression of travel with the fixed feeling that my routine offered was the perfect mental salve to keep me happy and doing my best writing.

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