An apparently never-ending living experiment

living the dream


A friend of ours, we’ll call him Bob, sent us a message in response to one of our blog posts in December. Incidentally we first met Bob a few years before we left our formerly comfortable and hard-working life in Toronto but really got to know him when we journeyed west in Canada back in the summer of 2015. He and his amazing wife hosted us in their fine city where we laughed, laughed and laughed and then laughed some more. He regularly sends witty and insightful messages in response to our blog posts and Instagram photos but the one in December made us pause. We’d like to share it with you. Hoping Bob won’t mind!

Life. Much better than death but not without its downside. Following your life the past years since you visited with us has been so interesting. Life is interesting…’interesting’ is the word I use to describe and understand human experience. Joy, sadness, pain, pleasure, knowing, unknowing are all ‘interesting’. They are interesting to me because all those states of being are temporary and a result of internal (existential) realities or external (experience) realities.

Your journey has been so interesting, inspirational, and instructional. On one level it is this great story about two fine people making a transformative decision to live in the duality of living in the tension between the misery of security and the misery of insecurity. A living experiment about the difference between the concepts of ‘place’ and ‘places’…staying put or searching out…and more…reporting on the experience.

For me it started as an adventure story…the van…homeless…courageous…fun…but has evolved into a human journey story. Elements of the story that I have been drawn to are of course how nature itself has healing qualities, how cities have injurious qualities, the power of fidelity with the support of Julie’s father, what it means to love an animal/pet, how living in a wrong decision can be soul destroying at points (renovation and being in the wrong place), the rightness of moving back onto the road (with all the adventure and insecurity that means). All so interesting.

This is my dreary Bon Voyage message and thank-you card. Travel well, love each other (as much as possible), show the dog a good time, and enjoy the people and places along the way.     – Bob

We can’t disagree with a single word Bob. Except maybe the inspirational part! 😉 We are so grateful for your friendship. We really need to see you both again and soon! Thank you for following our journey which is really just our life. The last four years have lead to more questions than answers, partly because the questions keep changing. Our idea of home is much more broad than ever before (hard to pin down). Our appreciation of comfort is fleeting. We enjoy it while we have it but become bored by our reliance on comforts and old habits. Our idea of community has also changed. It has really grown and we cherish it. We still struggle with balancing our own desires and dreams with being there for those we love.  That’s probably true for all of us. We continue to learn and grow and remain open to change. Life throws curve balls at all of us, all the time, whether we live in a bricks and mortar house surrounded by friends and family or a nomadic lifestyle in an old van. There are always challenges.

our old house

From the house above to a Volkswagen campervan. This is the van before and after it became our home:

We quickly adapted to our new paradigm:

To good and bad campsites (more of the former):

We drove from BC to Ontario in January to move Julie’s dad into a Memory Care Unit (against his will):

Westfalia in Montana

And his best friend, MacDuff, too:

memory care

While stationary, we had the van painted:

vanagon restoration

Our creativity was reignited during our residency at Spark Box Studio in Picton, Ontario. Below are a few photos of our Shangri-La installation:

Though we’ve continued to take on design projects we were reminded that we missed ‘making’; having a dedicated studio space; and a supportive creative community. Our old studio below:

letterpress studio

And so we hastily purchased a small co-op apartment in Toronto which checked a few boxes for us:

We renovated over a period of three months:

The Lows – Yes, we’ve had some mechanical problems with the van; even been towed a few times; our van was hit and run just after having been painted; nearly bought a mobile coffee truck last year while renovating the apartment; and after just 5 months in the apartment inherited Julie’s dad’s very sick dog (in a building that does not allow dogs):

The Highs – We were at Cornell to see our niece Mackenzie begin University and she is now about  to graduate; Margot and Elia got married and are now moving into a new home; Annie and Declan had their second child, George, and they too moved into a new home; we enjoyed holidays in Florida with Julie’s dad, Aunt Barb and Uncle Marvin two years in a row; and our nephew Jakob graduated from high school. These are but a few of the wonderful things that have happened in the past four years.

And so the apartment we were renovating a year ago, in a city that has been our home for all of our adult lives, is for sale. We have no idea where we’ll settle or even if we’ll settle in one spot again soon. We hope so. We think. Luckily we still have a bright green van that is as much home as any house or apartment we have ever lived. Some people tell us we are living the dream, but we’re with Bob we think we are living the experiment.