Sometimes you can’t let go, and that’s okay

Downsizing and moving into a van isn't exactly easy. What do you do with your momemtos?

A mattress on the living room floor, and a TV precariously perched on an ironing board. Empty cardboard boxes strewn around the hallways, some with contents, some empty. The house appears to have been looted, and it’s unclear if anything of value remains. We are downsizing, moving out of the house and into the van!

Between Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and donations, we have zero furniture. Nearly everything we need for full-time van life, with the exception of a couple kitchen items, is in the van, ready for us to roll. Purging hasn’t been easy though.

The disaster that is the living room.

My first big purge occurred when my second husband and I separated. I only took what I could fit in the room I rented. The next purge happened during my move from Rhode Island to Virginia, and I only kept what fit in my station wagon. When the time came to purge in preparation for moving into the van, there wasn’t much I needed to go through. My husband on the other hand…

Jeremy has diligently toted all his stuff around with each Navy move for the past 15 years or so, even things he hadn’t laid eyes on in years. When the time came to purge, boxes upon boxes and seemingly endless totes full unknowns loomed in the shadows of the attic and closets. After two weeks of sifting and sorting through decades of memories and paperwork, almost all the junk has been culled out.

Meet Sleepy Bear. I’ve had her since I was born, and yes, she’s coming with me in the van.

If you’ve ever purged before, you know how hard it can be to let go of memories. Jeremy has a small tote in the van full of baseball caps I’ve never seen him wear. I want to tell him, “No! You never wear them! They are not taking up precious space in our small van!” But how can I when I have yarn and fabric loaded up in the van that I’ve been telling myself I’ll making something with for the past five years? Instead of fighting the urge to keep these things, we’ve agreed to reevaluate the contents of the van after living in it for six months. Anything we haven’t used (other than seasonal stuff) will be purged. Ideally.

Both of us still have momentos we absolutely cannot part with… Pictures his kids drew him when they were little. Photographs. My grandma’s throw pillow. There’s no room for them in the van, so we’ll be storing them either at Jeremy’s oldest son’s house, or in my friend’s storage unit. Will we frequently interact with these items? Unlikely. But knowing they are out there, somewhere, waiting for us, provides comfort.

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I served 11 years in the Navy, and in 2014 I thru hiked the Appalachian Trail. These experiences helped prepare me for vanlife. My husband and I now live in our self-converted van, Mark.

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About Us

We left “normal” life behind and now live in our self-converted van, Mark. Our time in the military and backpacking adventures made vanlife an easy choice. The leap into vanlife and a self-conversion can be exciting yet daunting. We want to share our experiences and provide resources to give you vanlife your way, and the highway.

jeremy and christina at sunset

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