Sitting in the rig, it’s almost midnight and the rain storms are beating down. The relentless raindrops, thrust themselves onto the roof, the windows, the sides of the van. The winds are strong, and every few minutes, the whole van shakes as though the ground beneath it is made of rubber. The lovely Salem bay is now rough, with waves crashing reminiscent of strong ocean current filled booms. It’s a New England storm, and we’re in the thick of it tonight.
When I took off for this journey, and envisioned where I’d be at certain points in my travels, I knew that I wanted to be in New England for autumn. After a September trip to the Catskills, the Berkshires area was the next logical stop on my adventure. In the past month, I’ve witnessed a few leaves popping off trees and floating gently to the ground turn to bright electric colors swirling around and through everything on the earthly plane.
I’ve managed to travel up and down some of of Vermont’s most scenic routes, and dip in and out of Massachusetts. Staying off highways, I’ve ventured into antique shops, old book stores, Wiccan haunts and apple farms pumping out warm donuts covered in course sugar. As I promised myself, fall in New England is like nothing else. I’ve been in awe of the colors, and the feeling tones of wandering the woods in a fuzzy hoodie for warmth.
Living in Colorado, it’s not that often that rains will come and stick around for extended days. Gloomy skies are a random surprise. It’s always sunny and the fall colors are narrowed down to simply yellow aspens against the green conifer backdrop.
The van is really shaking now, rocking back and forth in the howling dark winds blowing up from the Atlantic. The rain is pounding against the metallic exterior of my rig. My animals, Nermal and Scoob are curled up, staying warm in the folds of blankets on my bed. I imagine if I were in the woods, I’d worry more about branches landing on my rig, or winds blowing something heavy into me. Out here in the open by the shoreline, I don’t feel as vulnerable. Not sure that is the correct response, but that’s my belief.
It is a strange time in my life, the trip has gone on longer than I imagined I’d make it for. I’ve been playing more, writing even more, and making time for my personal experience. It’s wonderful, and indulgent. I try to remember that the reason I can do this is that I don’t have a dwelling to maintain besides the van. As long as I’m making enough money to cover things here, I can keep this up indefinitely.
I am also tired. It is strange how we crave routine. We seek it out as an anchor to make sense of each day. We notice when the sun rises and sets, when it is time to eat certain meals and enforce things like brushing teeth first thing in the morning to establish a sense of well being and health. As a nomad, I have to try even harder to establish and maintain routine. The payoff is normalcy in an incredibly abnormal life choice.
I start up the van, turning on lights, not making time to secure things and put things away. Filled with fear that the street may flood more, I realize that we’re stuck on this road, and that the only way out is by driving over a sidewalk, a patch of grass into a parking lot and out and up a small hill away from the rising waters filling the street where we were parked. We find shelter in a parking spot next to a high concrete wall which is protecting us from the gusting winds reminiscent of harsh nor’easters I’ve witnessed in my past.
The storm is picking up, shaking the van and the contents inside. The waves from the bay are crashing up above the embankment, over the sidewalk and onto the side of the rig. The animals are clearly uncomfortable, looking at me with widened eyes. I remain calm and cuddle them, letting them know they are safe. Do I know this for certain? I look down and realize that the water is rising and that we’re parked in a newly formed small pond of water beneath us. We have to move.
Falling asleep again at this point is pointless. My organs are vibrating inside, pumped full of adrenaline. This is the scariest night we’ve encountered yet. Branches and other debris caught in the wind, keep hitting the metallic exoskeleton of the rig, and the thuds are loud and disconcerting. I am agitated.
If I hadn’t looked, would we have been flooded out where we were so close to the bay?
I’m exhausted. The storm isn’t dying down, but I do feel much more safe in our new parking space a little further up the hill. I get into bed, pull the covers and extra blankets over me. The dog jumps up and curls up by my leg, and the cat follows and takes the crook of my arm for warmth.