No matter how much I pushed or pulled, the canvas kept on drooping like a tired bloodhound on a dog show. That night the BedMobile was leaking around the poles, the sides and the zippers. It wasn’t even that big of a catastrophe, easily fixed by a trip to the workshop. It only caused a wet backpack and a few small puddles of water, but the rain had broken my spirit. Back for one day in Amsterdam and I was already longing for a new holiday or a decent house. Almost crying I wrote in my damp diary that I was feeling lonely, held hostage by an uncooperative tent.
Vague plans, just a rucksack, a bit of money and above all: the company of friends and family. Those were the ingredients of one of the best holidays I ever had. I was almost constantly aware of my happiness and I did not want it to end. I did not want to go home as I do not have a home.
Rain is unforgiving
As John Goodman commented on a previous post: “In freeing yourself from possessions, you’ve trapped yourself at the mercy of nature. You’re living an almost Old Testament life, when God was not always merciful. Rain is unforgiving; hold out for the sunshine.”
Unlike in the Old Testament campsite Het Vliegenbos has a tumble dryer. So I got myself, wet clothes and the BedMobile together, took a deep breath and brought the front tent to iFabrica. Eight hours later I still had not gotten the sewing machines to work. I had to admit I was going to have to sleep somewhere else.
Operation succeeded, patient deceased
The aim of the experiment was to find out if there is a place for a backyard nomad in Amsterdam-Noord, and if I could find a way to combine living in a tent with my everyday life. After six weeks in autumn and four weeks in summer I can say: yes there is space, but please don’t do it in a tent.
The main problem is that I am not a walking piece of art or on a holiday. I am a beginning nomad who loves the material world, such as good food and making things by hand. I want to live close to my loved ones and I am trying to set up a life in a way that weaves through the fabric of society. My life involves stuff: laptop, papers and books, tools and materials. They cannot handle damp and I cannot handle cold. My life requires space: for friends, yoga and making stuff.
While wandering through the city I ignored two fundamental truths: I need dependable shelter and I need room for me and my friends. Without shelter the Maslovian pyramid is crumbling in my hands.
Just the two of us
My BedMobile feels like a grumpy old dog demanding lots of care. The BedMobile was designed for loneliness. It was a one person sleeping cabin to begin with. Now I have slowly expanded it to a full blown bicycle drawn caravan and the BedMobile groans under the load. It is still not big enough for more than one. I alone can pack it, move it, pitch it and repair it. So I’ve spent many a day on my own fixing flat tires, resewing fabric, getting new parts and dragging the weight through a crowded impersonal city.
Through the BedMobile I learned a lot about sharing, giving and receiving. I met hosts, received strange guests, shared stories with public. But I forgot to share this life with the people that matter most: my friends and family.