You know when you can feel your brain expanding at a rapid rate? Perhaps too rapid for comfort, certainly too rapid for any sustained periods of sleep. It’s how I imagine it would feel to sign up for some volunteer program in Africa. You leave the world you know so well, you’re on the plane for a million hours, and then BAM new culture, training begins, 24 hours later you have no idea which way is up.
Ever since arriving in Portland at the beginning of September, I’ve been scoping out campers for my Northwest Quest (#nwquest). The plan is to live in the camper in someone’s backyard for a few months before I take off. This will allow me to prepare for my trip, save on rent, and learn the intricacies of living in a camper full-time.
As soon as I started looking at campers, I began to realize how much I didn’t know. Just a walk around the outside reveals multiple tanks (“gray” tanks, “black” tanks, fresh water tanks, propane tanks), hose requirements having to do with pressure, enormous batteries with voltage numbers I don’t understand, cables, and electrical outlets that require adapters. Inside there are switches and levers and pumps to get the water flowing. I’ve learned that fridges need to stay open when a camper isn’t being used, and that humidity is the main problem in these things.
I felt like a sponge. Like a sponge at full capacity, that desperately needed to be wrung out.
But after looking for a couple weeks, I did find an amazing camper. And a place to park it.
And then I lost it.
After paying and hauling the thing over, it turned out that the alley leading into the backyard wasn’t wide enough to accommodate the truck. Rookie mistake.
I was upset, but when I lost that camper, something changed in me.
Everything I had been learning over the last few weeks began to crystallize. I now know what questions to ask. I know what the infinite tanks are for, and I feel a lot less like a fish out of water.
I know the dimensions of the alley and backyard gate. I’ve cut models out of paper to simulate various campers turning into that gate. I also know that I will probably need to get something on wheels– a small trailer, and have a few friends help me push it into place. That this is the only option for actually making that turn into the backyard. I’m looking at restored vintage trailers and fiberglass trailers. They both have pros and cons, which I’m sorting out.
I also know how quickly things get snatched up on Craigslist (roughly 4 days for an awesome find), what a reasonable price is, how to negotiate, and that I need to be ready to pounce when I find something I love.
As a multipotentialite, I’m used to steep learning curves. But this one felt steeper than most.
If you find yourself in a similar situation with one of your new interests, try to absorb all you can and stick around for a bit. Give yourself time, and soon the concepts will begin to crystallize and feel more familiar. That’s when the fun really begins.
Let the hunt continue.
Have you ever felt completely and utterly out of your element when moving in a new direction? How did you handle it?
Emilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe
scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.