September 12th. Just being, joining the work with the animals, lots of reunion hugs and conversations, a bit of shopping, an evening dip and sunset at the beach. The full moon was crazy beautiful, when we returned to the bus.
I used to believe, we needed the 200 sqm with garden and terraces in a capital in Europe. We felt at home in our home in Copenhagen. Now we have downscaled our life to a 22 sqm bus plus a small green van, and i feel just as at home in my bus and in my van, as I used to feel in my big apartment in Copenhagen.
Actually I also feel, I can feel at home in the twilight at a town square somewhere in Germany just 20 minutes after I arrived in the town, in a spare room with some friends, in the guest house with some people, I have never met before, by a canal where I have my lunch and rest for some hours. The homey feeling is different each place, but none the less all the places has an element of home-feeling. Does it make sense?
Every place, we have been, I just love to be there, and every place we have been, I think it is amazing. I feel free and alive and at the right place everywhere. Yet, there is a difference. A difference, between being fully satisfied, feeling completely safe and at the right place, and then feeling at home.
In this blogpost i explore these differences and share how our nomadic lifestyle changed our perspective on what it means to be “at home”.
Coming home to the bus and to Catalunia
Those following the blog will know, we have been a lot in Catalunia the past year. The bus has actually been parked at the same spot for 10 months. We have been traveling a lot, to the Canary Islands a few months and to Denmark and Sweeden, when my mother died in April, plus the 10 weeks roadtripping Europe this summer.
In Catalunia we met a woman, who was just a soulmate to me and we felt this deep connection even before I learned to speak Spanish, and around her vegan project, we met a large group of likeminded people. At Mon La Bassa (translated: The World around the pond) we have met people of all ages, animals of many species and developed many different friendships.
In Catalunia we have also decided to learn the language. We study Spanish and Catalan, and we are doing good. We have a generel interest in language and always learn as much as we can of local language, where ever we are – but here we have so many friends and spend so much time, so this language is in front.
The feeling of coming home
When we came back to the bus after ten weeks ind the green VW, we clearly felt, we were coming HOME. We drove all day from Magalie and Keith, because we wanted to come home. To our bus. The homefeeling came in many forms: When we passed the blue sign with the yellow stars saying “Espania”, we were shouting: “Spain! We are home!”. When we drove in to the city El Vendrell, 2 km from the bus, we felt excited: The monuments, the streetcorners, the commercial signs, the buildings, bars, bridges. Butterflies in the stomach, big smiles, true happiness, YAY – we are home. Again.
In order to get to the bus, we have to cross a smal bridge and drive along a very beautiful road between wineyards and between old drywalls, and this last one kilometer was peaceful and beautiful. At the very last we drive through a portal of trees and bushes, it feels like walking through the closet in Narnia, and you enter the special place of Mon La Bassa. Arriving to the animals, the stars, the carob trees and tadaaaa: the bus. Our big red beautiful home, the bus.
When we arrived we were tired, and the feeling of happiness was of a silent and smiling kind. At the same time, the arriving hour became first and foremost practical. The day before had had heavy rain and our bed was wet, so we had to fix that – and of course start all systems after the bus had been empty for ten weeks. We were in the Doing Mode for a few hours, before we went to bed.
Waking up at Mon La Bassa was amazing. It aways is. In sun and rain, during summer and winter. But after ten weeks of absence, and with a very new feeling of this being our base, our home, the first morning was different. Magic.
The sun was shining through the branches of the huge carob tree, when it rose, the peacock male Eric and the rooster (I am sorry, I do not know his name) woke us up with their morning calls, and we enjoyed a slow morning walk to say good morning to all plants, animals and buildings. Even the dusty road.
Shortly after the humans arrived, and we learned we had returned to exactly the first day of school. Laia smiled and told me this was to her the perfect timing: Now everything was back in order after a cracy summer, harmony and balance ready to begin: Kids back in school, vikings back in the red bus, everything in order.
Perfect timing is by the way a big part of our filosophy. Read more about it in the text: Are you super rich?
We felt exactly the same, as we often do: That the timing was just perfect.
The first days were full of conversations and of reactivation the language, not spoken for a long time and still new to us.
Week 38 plus a bit: What we did in our days of returning
Did we travel the world?
One year and two months ago we moved out of our home in Copenhagen to travel the world with our children in a red bus.
We traveled to the Netherlands and met a family who lives in a houseboat and to meet up with friends we had originally met at La Palma. Then we went on to Paris, enjoying streets, people, family and art. We kept on traveling to the south of France, watched flamengos, made new friends and went on to Catalunia, because some emotion was calling.
In Catalunia we were met with so much love and such an apealing culture, we had to stay much longer, than anticipated. When winter came we left the bus and went to the Canary Islands for new adventure (and to escape the winter). In March we came back to the bus and thought we would start driving it again, but then my mother suddently died and we flew back to Denmark.
Five weeks later we returned to our own life, our life in the bus. NOW, we thought, we would start traveling again. But it seems the bus was not ready to leave Mon la Bassa, and in stead we bought the VW and started traveling Europe in that for two and a half months.
Is that traveling The World? By no means. We have been to seven countries, all in Europe. We have been to loads of places, met a lot of people, and had a lot of fun. We have explored the balance between adventureing, exploring new horizons on the one side, and the contemplation and the peace deriving from getting to know a place and it’s people really well.
The freedom to go where ever we want is also the freedom to stay where we are
We are not busy to get to see the whole wide world. Our project is about thriving, being happy, being free and being together. We have learned it is of less importance to move around.
Now it seems Portugal is calling. We have to make some repairs on the bus before it is driving, and for now we enjoy our frinedships here and the few days of peace we manage to create.
We thrive in this life. This is the most important. We have learned it is not about the amount of countries we visit, but also about how deep we dive into local culture and nature, stories and people. A location will unfold itself in other ways, when you choose to stay. Our relations here are of great importance, and they are also the ticket to new experiences, to nuanced understanding of the culture, to new developments.
As we often explain: The freedom to be where ever we feel like is also the freedom to stay where we are, if that is what we want.
Birthday and older sister
Sometimes, while road tripping in the summer, we longed to come home. Home to the bus. Home to Catalunia. Home to the animals and the people, the climate and the culture here. We love the adventure, and we can hold up to being really busy in our travels. But sometimes we do long for peace and quiet, every day life and silence.
Very often in life, something we long for is actually available in the here and now, if we choose it. We could have had much more peace and quiet while traveling Europe in the green van, but every day we chose something else. More adventure. Because at the time it was more important.
Even when we came back to the bus, we chose the adventure, the parties, the fun. On the second day, we picked up our oldest daughter in the airport, and as you can read in the bullet calendar above, our first weeks in Catalonia was not at all weeks of reading in a haystack and every day life. They were very much what we are and what we enjoy: Humans, nature, culture, projects, experiences, adventure.
Firstly we celebrated Silkes birthday and the company of our oldest daughter.
Every day life
To come back to something that resembles every day life feels good. Every place, we stay, we create some habits. Based on the place, the people, the projects of the time. We lean into the reality around us and adjust what we are to the context.
So, coming back to the bus is coming back to a known context, to some habits and routines. We do not have to invent new ones. Well known routines are clear indicators of home. But after being away for a long time, it is also interesting to reconsider what is actually needed, and that is psychologically healthy.
We think about all of the routines. If what we do is truly important, if it is the right for us. It is refeshing to recognize one self in habits and at the same time feel the natural revision happening after longer breaks. Yet another advantage of full time traveling.
My tiny home: My kitchen table, my floors, my place
A home is where you sleep a night, where you have some clean clothes and enough food for the next few meals. But is that it?
A home is where you sleep a night, where you have some clean clothes and enough food for the next few meals (or more). It is hard to define “a home”, but this one often holds water.
In the bus, the feeling of home is connected to stuff and to organizing. Our stuff. Our kithcen, our bed and our couch. As a comparison, our VW is also a home, but the bus is a HUGE upgrade as to size, and a great element is that things do not need to move all the time. In the bus you can have a knitting project and some LEGO and a drawing going on, and in the kithcen fermentaion processes of yogurt and kombucha can be going on, while baking bread, and we can go for a walk or sleep all night without moving it all and finishing all processes.
I feel both welcome and at home many places. Yet there is a special feeling in my bus, in my kitchen, among my books, my knitting projects, my fermentation cultures: my projects, my choises. Our bus is a seriously cosy tiny housse and after a year with the bus as base, we had a clear feeling of “coming home” when we arrived.
Is a home a place?
There is more to the story. When we do feel at home in the bus, it is good in itself. In that way we have succeeded our freedom project: We can live our life at home where ever we park, and thereby travel the world while being at home.
But the truth is the bus is not the only contributer to the feeling of being at home. It is just as much about the people here. We have made real friendships and learned enough of the language to have conversations, have fun, solve problems and explore interesting quiestions with other people. Enough to be and evolve in the relations we have here with all that we are.
Home is where you know exactly who to call if you need to have a hug or a party. Or both
Similarly we were in Denmark and felt at home, because we shared the mother tounge, we knew local history like the back of our hands and had friends and family locally. We did not have the bus there, but other factors made us feel very much at home.
The people here in Catalonia, their wholeheartedness and their warmth makes us feel at home. It is as important as the bus iteself.
A place can make you feel at home, but a home is probably more an experience, an emotion. The feeling of being at home touches you and feels very comfortable. But the idea, it has to be in a special location is just that: An idea.
And the surroundings: We know parts of the city just down the road, we know where to get our organic veggies every friday, and we know the most beautiful camino to the beach, we know some of the trees very well, we know the plazas and the fountains, the mobile phone reapair shop (!) and the vietanamiese cook at the sportsbar, who cooks lovely vegan food for us, when we want to wathc a soccergame.
All of this makes us feel at home, just as much as the bus itself. So is “the home” the actual place, you rest your head at nigth?
We like the culture here, we like the people, we have met, we like the nature and the climate. All of these reasons can explain why we spend so much time here, and why we plan to spend much time here in the future as well.
A nomadic style of the ancient nomadic cultures as well as of some of the modern nomad people, is to move from base to base. The people of the stone age did this, many cultures have done this. We want bases as good and homey as our Mon La Bassa many places on Earth, but we are in no hurry. It is great to contemplate, to give time. It is actually much more fun than being a tourist all of the time.
So, IS a home a place? My answer will be a “no”. A place can make you feel at home, but a home is probably more an experience, an emotion. The feeling of being at home touches you and feels very comfortable. But the idea, it has to be in a special location is just that: An idea.
Do we need a home?
The big misunderstandings of this theme is in the premis of the question. Do we need a home, as in ONE home. Probably not.
Of course everyone has a need for a place to be, a place to rest and so on, but in reality, we could at least physically survive if this was a new place every day.
The question of the psychological need is of course much more interesting. Now we have been living in a bus for a while, we see these things in a different perspective. The bus separates the home from the location.
First and foremost, we do not need ONE home. There is no problem feeling at home in many different locations. We can feel at home in the van and in the bus, we can feel at home at freinds places and at family homes.
Another premis is the idea: you have to be in the home a LOT of the time. And actually you do not. A home can be a place to return to sometimes, and this is still the feeling of home. Many people know this feeling from family vaccation houses. They are homes, even though you have not been there maybe even for years. We have found even new places, to hold the emotion of home after only short time, and believe, being at home is first and foremost something you choose to feel.
Another thing is: A home can be an emotion, rather than a place, and a home can sometimes just be a language, other times a friendship, often a place. A home can be of different quality, depending on the history and the context, and the inner work done by the person trying to feel at home.
If we are together, it does not matter, where we are. Then we are at home.
So, home can be many different locations, some local, some as big as countries; it can be a language, a view, a group of people, a personal history.
It is great to be out on an adventure, and it is amazing to come home to the bus. It truly is. Just as it feels good to leave a home, and know it is there, when you come back. This is a GREAT luxury. We have a mental achor in all the places, we feel we belong, and this connectedness is different from before we chose to become nomadic.
In my view the idea that a home is ONE place, “your home” and that you have to be there more or less 45 weeks a year is just derived from the fact, most people live like this. It is the reality for many people, and because most people live it, we decide it is good and natural.
In many ways our lifestyle challenges what is the common lifestyle choises, and as such the reality and the idea of the ordinary (some even postulate nessecary) for a lot of people.
We have let go of a big and beautiful home, and this was a HUGE psychological challenge. We had countless sleepless nights when we prepared for the change. But oh, do we love the fact, we actually and finally did it. It has set us free to enjoy the adventure of our life, and we are forever grateful. We are free and happy, and have had loads of new and interesting insights.
At the end of the day, we are home, when we are together. All the five of us and the dog, preferably joined by our oldest and her boyfriend. If we are together, it does not matter, where we are. Then we are at home.
Thank you for reading the blog. I write to share our experiences and perspective, and would love to hear yours. Please comment in whatever way feels right to you: Facebook-comment, personal e-mail, text-message, whatever you like. It brings a lot of joy in the bus, when we hear from readers. Thank you and may the sun shine on your path.