Tom woke up stiff and smiling, but with eyes still tightly bound. The back windows in his ‘04 Subaru Forester were tinted some, but grey-white light bleated in from a foggy San Francisco morning. He cranked his neck forward to look around. Despite driving the car he had owned since high school from his home in Northern Virginia to the West Coast—a pilgrimage which would land him a summer gig leading backpacking trips at a camp outside Yosemite—Tom was still getting used to his new “home”.
He had left in a hurry, and his setup was fairly rudimentary. The basics were there, though. To his left lay his dad’s old Coleman cooler. Food: check. To his right were layers of colorful stickers (almost) completely covering the interior plastic siding of his car, retrieved from the various here-and-there’s Tom had passed through on his journey so far. Decor: check. The backs of the rear seats were flat down, offering a nearly even surface for him to lay his Luno Signature Air Mattress. The foot-wells beneath them held Tom’s camera, books, computer, and other valuables. Storage: check.
Traveling this way wasn’t particularly glamorous, but it was travel and Tom felt full of pride and inspiration like never before. He had tried to explain that to his mother a handful of times, but the idea of sleeping in a Subaru never quite took with her. When he called her to say he had made it to S.F., she exclaimed something like: “And you’re sleeping in your car?! What about the people?! They’ll be walking up and down past you when you wake up!” Tom shrugged to himself, a grin on his face, before he explained, “I like to wave to the people."
If Tom found himself somewhere interesting on his way across the country, he would take the day to explore. He stopped for mountains, museums, and street-lights of course. He sometimes even drove through the night to make up the distance forgotten for a day of leisure. He tried to wake up with the morning light, but often found himself sleepily pulling shut his custom curtains. Even sleeping in his car, Tom mostly managed to sink into a deep hibernation each night before he lived through the rush of another day. That’s what his mom couldn’t get: this was still life, beautiful and free. It was just out of a vehicle.