Unless you live under a rock like me, and avoid the news at all cost, you are most likely aware of the Gabby Petito drama unfolding in the United States.
There are many reasons why this ‘fait divers’ has attracted so much attention, most of them being very wrong, but that is not the purpose of this article.
Let’s instead focus on the context in which this tragic event occurred: Van life.
A lot has been made of van life. An Oscar winning movie, books, magazines, Youtube channels, Instagram dedicated profiles, and countless influencer wannabes hoping to cash in on the trend…
In most cases, if not all, the picture you’ll get from those accounts is a glorified vision of this nomadic lifestyle.
Imagine how great it is to start your day with a yoga session or other meditative ecstasy, opening your mind to a world of beauty, in which you can roam free. Once blessed by this seldom seen wilderness, you, and your gorgeous alter egos, can rest while enjoying amazing food in stunning remote campsites, overlooking a pristine horizon under a star filled sky.
Have no doubts, its the kind of life others can only dream of. A garden of Eden accessible only to the chosen ones. So why don’t you drop your lousy life and join the party ?
But one thing the Petito murder reveals is that behind the numerical glams, lays a far gloomier reality.
One in which, ‘Vanners’ spend most of their days in the very confined environment of a van, with no escape from one another. Which after a while can become very difficult to handle. (Love can be blind for only so long!) Especially when driving for hours on end, with nothing interesting to do or say, hoping the campsite selected on the map will be open, somewhat clean and not too overcrowded.
It would be nice if, once there, they could go for a walk, stretch out those legs and actually get to enjoy each other and the surroundings. But instead they have to hurry and stage up the fantasy, take a picture of it, or better yet, a video, before filtering it to the max to hide all the unwanted clues from the utopia.
Unwanted clues range from not having taken a decent shower in days, which, with the stinky dog, has transformed the van into a foul putrid dish. Eating the same gas station junk food everyday. Not finding sleep because of the rowdy camp neighbors, their smelly generator and awful music pouring through the loud speakers. Replace the morning yoga with a short trip to a public bathroom where flies go to die, and you get a far more accurate picture.
No matter your level of experience, van life is hard and requires a very gregarious set of mind to endure, especially as a couple. Don’t get me wrong, some actually can thrive in such conditions, but they are the exceptions.They are grounded, secure, patient, resilient, and most of all, they don’t have to pretend to be happy or spectacular.
Chasing a pipe dream has consequences. Once confronted with the lie, most give up. For others it can turn into tragedies.