Commencement

There comes a time in every life, every journey where you feel like you can draw a line and say, my journey started here. High school or college graduation is called “commencement” because this is the point where real life begins. Does life begin after graduation? Or, does it start with that first new job? Or, how about when you first move from your parents home into your own apartment? Maybe life started long before graduation; it started your freshman year with new schedules, new responsibilities, new friends. Although the starting point is vague, we tend to recognize that on one specific day, something changed. A long awaited day has arrived, and after this day, everything changes. The tassel moves from one side to the other and now my life is my own.
Today, was a kind of commencement. Today is the day we have waited for and yet the day we feared. When did the journey begin? I guess that's a bit vague. But today, it really began. We started our bus and headed south to escape the cold. It's been frustratingly cold and wet for many weeks when our desire was to get work done on the bus. We're not ready. We're not prepared. But we have to go. As we crossed the line from Michigan into Ohio on US-23 Amy and I were overtaken with the realization that we have “commenced”.
Where do we go from here? We're as lost as a couple kids just out of high school. We don't know where the road might lead. We have excitement, anticipation, and fear. For three years we've wanted to build this bus and experience the freedom of living wherever the bus is parked. For three years we invested too much money and too much time into big this rig, only to have problems that cost even more when we started moving. Five months ago, we took a step to drive the bus to Muskegon to have a place to live while I worked. Amy and I have both struggled with the words, “this has been the worst summer of our lives”. Why? Many reasons I suppose, some of them valid, some just emotional. We weren’t ready. The bus wasn't ready. A week before I accepted the job, we still did not have running water in the bus, or electrical of any kind, or even a place to sit. We worked our butts off getting the toilet and shower to work and set up some make-shift furniture, but those projects just proved all the more that we really we're not ready. We drove to Muskegon, stayed at a run-down, over-grown campground and I went to work. Amy worked at cleaning up the campground in trade for our stay and I worked at my job in a dark, filthy, factory in the heart of a dark, filthy city. The owner was a good man, but nothing could have been worse. We were separated as a couple for the first time in years by work. The money was ridiculously low, and the financial reward non-existent. But, Muskegon was, indeed, a stepping stone. It forced us to test drive the bus life. We found, even without the basics, that we enjoyed living in the bus.
Money continued to be tight, so we sold the house. That sale was nothing short of a miracle. That's a story of it's own. We sold. We sold everything we owned. The house, all the furniture, all our belongings, all our tools, every picture, plate, and broom. It was all gone. Not a profitable sale, but a sale that brought freedom.
I left the job in Muskegon, the weather was turning cold, and we had much work to do on the bus before we could hit the road. We left with no real heat other than portable electric heaters. No real power inverter system and no real bus furniture. We needed time before we commenced this life on the road to get the bus ready. So, we headed to Grayling where my dad has a shop, tools, internet, and everything we would need while we work for a few weeks. And it rained. It rained, and it rained. Cold, damp, constant rain. Not one productive day – not one! We decided to make one last visit to Cheboygan, get a few things moved around and say goodby to old friends. And it rained. It rained, and it rained. Cold, damp, constant rain. Not one productive day – not one!
Today we left Michigan! Today was commencement! Today the umbilical cord was cut. We crossed into Ohio with the realization that today we are living in freedom. Freedom from debt, freedom to go anywhere and do anything we wish. Today our only home is the bus. There is no turning back. Today it begins.
Where do we go now? That is a question that I can't answer. We have some thoughts, some ideas, but no real plans. We actually plan to leave the bus with someone we met on the bus forum in Pennsylvania for a week or so while we visit Brian, Crystal and Ben. He's so cute! Then, we plan to return to the bus and head – south – we think. But, we will go where the road takes us.
A foundation in our lives for the last five yeas has been to learn to trust the Lord. That learning process has cost us our home, our business, our friends, and our identity. The price is greater than I would have ever imagined. It is greater than I thought possible. And yet, the price is insignificant. It's a price I've accepted, and I'm willing to pay. In reality, the price is nothing. It's a free gift that very few are willing to touch. We have determined in our hearts to take the gift of trust and see where He leads us. There is no doubt in our minds that He will lead us down paths that defy imagination. But, this is what we signed up for. Today is commencement! Today it begins!

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