"So you also haven't showered in a week?"
"Do you mind if you leave my home so I can poop?"
"Here are the coordinates to meet me in the middle of no where."
"Wow, you look so much bigger in your Instagram photos"
Dating on the road, or as I like to call it "Reverse-dating", is most definitely unlike any dating experience I have. I sometimes compare dating on the road to ABC's series the Bachelor, minus the glamorous living arrangements, the drama and the free booze.
How Most People Date: Two people meet and hit it off, they go on a date, and maybe even get to first base on night one (if they are lucky). They text back and forth, throw in a flirty text here and there and plan for the next time they are going to hangout. A week later they plan to hangout again. Excitement builds as they groom their privates, brush their teeth, and look their best with hopes to maybe make it a little further on this date. They both make sure they look their best and give a great impression when they meet up again. This routine of texting, making sure your pampered, and showing your best qualities goes on for several months, sometimes even years before a relationship progresses. Typically after several months to a year the couple will move in with each other, put down more guards, and start to show each other their true colors. If no one gets caught cheating first, months to years later the couple gets engaged, married, buys a house, has a kid, blah blah blah....ya'll know how the rest of the stereotypical American Dream pans out.
Dating on the Road: Nothing like mentioned above.
Now let's start from the beginning before I explain my definition of "Reversed dating"....
Flash back to May 7th 2018, the day I left NYC and hit the road for an adventure of a lifetime. When I left NYC, my co-pilot was my ex boyfriend, Phil, or Phil #1 (because things are going to get confusing here in a minute). I created what I thought would be our future, but turns out I was just creating my own future (which looking back on I am so happy I did). I thought we would travel the country together in our class C RV we completely re-did to be "our" tiny home on wheels for a few years before settling down in a state of our choice to build a tiny home. Three months on the road, 10,000 miles, and over $10,000 later he left me.....literally across the country!
Phil #1 never wanted to travel, but he was selfless enough to sell everything to his name to try a lifestyle that I wanted to live. After we hit the road, every other week we had to have the discussion of how unhappy he was and how he should go back home because it's unfair to have him doing something that is essentially making him resent me. For three months I rode an emotional roller coaster while also being on an adventure of a lifetime. Sometimes we would have a week of National Parks planned to visit, and after a day of emotions, I would be driving him to the nearest airport, skipping all the parks, and then turning around because he changed his mind and wants to stay. After reaching our last stop of our 3 month road trip across the USA, I had offered to give it all up for him. I offered to sell the RV, get an apartment, and save up and plan to travel part time on my own. I was willing to give it all up for him...he wasn't.
I am a strong believer in everything happens for a reason and exactly the way that it is supposed to. If I didn't meet him and build my future, I wouldn't have had the courage to sell everything to my name and hit the road in an 18 year old RV....so thank you for you that Phil #1. People come in and out of your life exactly when you need them to. Every person you connect with and every experience you encounter is all a chapter in your personal book of life.
When we got to Washington, I helped pack up my boyfriend of 1.5 years and fit what was left of his life in two suitcases. We went on an epic last date, I drove him to the airport, and I went to the Olympic Peninsula for the week to start my new chapter of life. I didn't cry, I didn't feel alone, I wasn't scared, and I wasn't confused. Instead, I was happy, excited, giddy, and happy to be starting this new chapter.
I will spare you the in-between details & direct you to my YouTube Channel to fill in the blanks. Long story short...Rented my RV, someone stole it and brought it to #BurningMan 2018, I lived in a tent for a month, and then I accidentally got a 2018 Ford Transit High Roof which brings us to September.
In September I met up with Wess Lewis from Transcend Existence and together we started working on the build for my new #tinyhomeonwheels. During this time I started to talk to Phil Gorman aka Phil 2.0 on Instagram (yep, the Universe has some fucked up sense of humor). Phil 2.0 is from Australia and when he flew into the United States last summer, he converted a 40ft School Bus in a week into a #skoolie to travel the country. Phil 2.0 is a carpenter and offered to help me with the rest of my conversion whenever I headed down the coast. He only had 9 days to help me before he flew back to Australia, so I spent two days driving from Washington to Northern California to meet up with him...in the middle of the woods with no service I must add. I am sure some of you are shaking your heads "this idiot met up with a rando in the middle of the woods is she TRYING to get kidnapped?!?!". We have been face-timing for a few weeks and I trusted my gut and heart that it would be OK to meet up with him alone....so I did.
Two days of driving and no shower, I pull up next to this 40 ft. blue #skoolie and out comes a half naked, tattooed Aussie with a Cowboy hat on and Cowboy boots. I attempt to make my hair look semi-presentable, wipe 2-day old coffee off my chin and get out of the van to introduce myself. After introducing ourselves he says, "Wow, you look so much bigger in your Instagram photos". I get this one pretty often, which continues to confuse the shit out of me because I am 5 foot short and weigh 110 lbs. We spend the day getting to know each other, cooking dinner, and sitting by the fire.
Here's where the "reverse dating" comes in....
From the day we met, we have spent EVERY single minute with each other for 9 days straight. Have you ever done that with someone? Could you imagine some dude you just start dating is like "Do you mind if you leave my home so I can poop?". I didn't even talk about poop with guys I have dated for years and here I am masking in a week worth of filth informing this half naked Aussie (He barely put clothes on all week I must add) that I too have to go take my morning poop after coffee. I laughed about how ironic and ass-backwards everything was happening. This is where being a person who just goes with the flow really comes in handy. Seven days later, seven days living with each other, and seven days of no showering, we finally had enough and I had a bright idea on how to fix it!
I put a beach towel on the floor, set up our soaps on the counter top, boiled hot water. put our wash clothes out, and stood in front of a man I have known for seven whole days butt naked. Together we stood there washing our bodies, staring at each other, and hysterical laughing about our current situation. Most definitely a first time for the both of us, and one we would always remember.
Phil came back to the states after 3 weeks in Australia and him and I have been traveling with each other ever since.
I guess I would have to say that dating someone ass-backwards, or "reverse dating" has been one of the most interesting, life and personal lessons I have ever had. Everything that I typically wouldn't do the first few months of dating someone, I did with Phil 2.0 in the first 9 days of knowing each other! Life on the road has a way of connecting people in such unique and raw way. There's nothing to hide and no mask to put on. Every day is a new, beautiful day filled with endless possibilities. When you find yourself stressing about things that are completely out of your control, you lose sight on the simplicity of life. Life on the road isn't just about the travel, that's just a bonus. Life on the road is about connecting with people in a way that you never thought could be possible. It's about seeing someone for exactly who they are, minus all the bullshit. It's about how deep you connect with others and the memories you make in your time together. There's no guarantee for tomorrow, so make the best out of each day!
Now how is it like ABC's series the Bachelor you may ask? As you know there is about 20 plus people fighting for someone's attention on one date. For the most part, the likelihood that they get to talk to the star of the show during cocktail hour is pretty slim. From Christmas to the end of April, Phil and I have spent over 180 days straight with over 15 other nomads in the desert. Now for simplicity reasons, let's pretend Phil is the bachelor. He's an Aussie so everyone wants his attention because well let's be straight forward, Australians are on the top of everyone's bucket list. I mean...he was on mine! For 180 days I got to not just connect and learn about my boyfriend, but I also got to connect on some of the deepest levels with 15 plus other nomads. While Phil was always telling some crazy story, or helping someone in camp with something, I was learning so much about him, myself, others, community, human connection, thankfulness, travel, and so much more. Isn't that how the show works? There's essentially one winner and the rest just leave with friends they made on the show and memories of a lifetime. Except I am the ultimate winner in this episode because I left with the Aussie and some incredible friends I will forever consider my chosen family.
The second reason it's like The #Bachelor is because of all the free (ish) travels. So now your not just dating someone, but you are also traveling the country with your friends and your other half..that's pretty cool not going to lie. No wonder everyone has their friends sign them up for the show. I would love to travel, make connections, date a hottie, and barely pay for any of it. Oh wait....I already am!
To wrap this #vanlife Dating on the Road up I would say that overall dating on the road has taught me about myself and human connection. I have learned patience, trust, gratitude, community, family, friendship, emotional trust, love and so much more. The breakup only made me stronger and the self growth that I have experienced this past year on the road will forever shape me into the person I am today and will continue to grow into. Just remember to trust the universe, even when they have a fucked-up sense of humor.
Stay Sexy & Keep Wandering (:
Art Van Grow