Camp 2 | A Maslovian kick in the head

Glandorff_Camp2_EmptyBedNo 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.
Unfortunately I do have a life that demands such a thing as a house. But instead I have a storage room in Zaltbommel, a postal address at my uncle’s and an almost water proof tent at campsite Het Vliegenbos. I feel like butter spread over too many slices of bread that are drifting apart in the rain.

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.
Sitting in the warm belly of my uncle’s boat I admit that living in the BedMobile has a few fundamental flaws. Even with a waterproof front tent it is not a good enough structure to support the basics of my life: physical well being, livelihood and the company of loved ones.

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.
There are plenty of people in Amsterdam-Noord who are willing to lend their yards for a few weeks or a month. Especially when you have something to offer and take up only a small part of their space. But right now my BedMobile is too large for the average garden and too small for the life of Loes Glandorff. I have to stop dragging the bloodhound to shows and retire it to a kinder place. The BedMobile is good at what it is made for: art projects and holidays.

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.
It seemed self-sufficient, but I was stubborn and deeply mistaken. I was not just lonely because I left out others, I was lonely because I missed the company of a calm Loes. Without dependable shelter I could not relax and comfort myself. And the set up in backyards excluded too many visiting strangers.

Starting over

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.
In order to host my loved ones and to do the work I cherish I need a welcoming space where three people can walk around. Where I can stretch as far as I can. Where my tools are stored and I can bake cakes. That can be inhabited without fear of cold or rain. A place to depart from and return to.
These months I am going to design a place that is not just about survival, but an integrated space fitting into the city fabric and embracing my life. Maybe I can set it up all by myself, but at least I will be able to receive some help and cook a good diner afterwards. Coming winter I’ll make myself a little nest from which I can keep on writing and building a Small Nomadic Atlas.

Leave a Reply