Itchy Feet Ramblings | Wanderlust

A Little Piece of the Author

Sheena Monster
6 min readJan 9, 2023
Creative Photography by Johnny Brittain

Living in the city, on top of thousands of others, in a box on top of a box — and shared walls — is horrid. The buzz of electrical wires and boxes, heavy-footed neighbors with vociferous habits and booming voices. It’s strange, to me, that anyone could ever truly enjoy it. It boggles my mind that some of you, those with a million other options, would still choose to live on top of each other. I don’t mean this metaphorically. No, I mean this in a purely literal sense. I lived above someone for several years — my floor, was [essentially] their ceiling. To be fair, I chose to live above others, because living beneath them is somehow worse. However, I do not want to be where I currently am either.

I was laid off nearly a year ago, and aside from the stark drop in income, I don’t miss it. I never had time to write and could hardly focus on my classes, not to mention trying to get enough sleep on top of a full-time job (plus [unfortunately] necessary overtime). I still do not get enough sleep, but if I wasn’t worried about finding a new job — one that I don’t even really want, or one that will require significantly more masking than I have the capacity for—I might. I do not want a nine-to-five — nor a three-to-eleven, or eleven-to-seven. I do not have a dream job — I do not dream about work.

Photo by Manuel Meurisse on Unsplash

What I want is a simple life, where I have the time to have experiences, to write and create — to breathe. I need space and the softness of my solitude to hear my own thoughts, to exist without imposed limitations that often have absolutely nothing to do with my abilities or credentials. I have grown exhausted of having my well-being disrespected and free-time dictated, especially by those that hardly even know my name. This hamster wheel existence is daunting, and the idea that all we are on this planet to do is work and procreate feels so…wrong.

I have lived the vanlife before — though, admittedly, not well. Partially due to poor planning, partially impulsivity overthrowing common sense along the way. Aside from the hindering choices, I loved it.

There was just something about waking up everyday with the time to journal my dream from the night before, practice self-care grooming, cook myself a simple and healthy breakfast, and the energy to incorporate yoga multiple days per week. All the while knowing that I could just get up and leave—taking my house with me. [Because a girl sure can dream…] I think people assume that when I say I miss vanlife they assume that I mean within city limits. Being in the city was — is — the worst. Parking where the sidewalk and roads end and the forest and starry skies begin is a whole different story.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

For the last couple months, I have been staying with family. While it has it’s surface advantages, the internal struggles that tear me apart are still a daily battle. A battle that goes unnoticed by most of them. Because they can see me, they think they know my mind and emotions — except they never ask, and I am not in the habit of offering. Why would I? If they don’t care enough to ask, it is obvious they do not care at all — as far as they are concerned, my presence is sufficient evidence that all is well. So, it doesn’t matter that I’m not. It doesn’t matter that I forget to breathe multiple times per day, or that I wake up feeling worse than when I haven’t slept at all. It doesn’t matter that my face looks blank and lax, but on the inside I’m screaming. Every smile strategically placed, silence hiding the pain of every breath — every word spoken is attacked, rebuked, chastised, or dismissed. Expectations built on their lack of perspective into my life is pushed on me, assumptions and judgments passed with prejudice — every interaction leaves me drained, some leave me incapacitated. The only words I can muster at this point is “I hate it here” — which is met with disgust or chastisement, their facial expressions saying as much as any of their words ever have.

The invalidation never ends — and although my validation will always matter most to me, the constant invalidation chips away at everything I have built within myself. Of course, that’s my fault, too, in their opinion. It’s all so suffocating.

Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

The concept of work in and of itself is not off-putting. Work-culture and the idea of being surrounded by people forty hours per week is — the idea of masking for the sake of neurotypical feelings alone is more than enough to create a knot in my chest that grows until I think of something else. After my last steady job, I took odd jobs to make ends meet — and the input never truly matched up with the output — and all that did was make me loathe existence. Rubbing two pennies together will never form a dollar, and the cycle of having to continue trying to create something from nothing is debilitating.

Last year (2022) kicked my ass — I lost legitimately everything I had busted my ass to achieve, for more than five years. It also taught me a lot about myself. It removed my desire to mask for ungrateful people who couldn’t care less, and it stripped away things that were holding me back. It stripped away everything, but collateral damage is inevitable. Much of my time is spent clinging to apathy. If not, the tears never stop — and I already can’t breathe, so tears seem wasteful and dangerous. Now is not the time for mourning, now is the time for cultivating and sowing the seeds that will bear the fruit of my labour and loss. So, I spend my days writing, studying, reading, and working in as much self-care as I can — remembering the lessons learned in heartaches past, trying to be gentle with myself.

My goal of life in a camper/motorhome hasn’t changed, and I don’t see it changing at any point in the near future. My feet get itchy when I stay in one place for too long. As introverted as I may be, I also get cabin fever — but getting out of the house can be just as nerve-racking, especially in highly populated areas. Living on the road works as a happy medium. Parking at a trailhead and hiking back to a clearing or driving to a new city to try the local cuisine is my ideal vacation.

Photo by Wren Meinberg on Unsplash

Until I can do it right, I won’t allow myself to do it again. As badly as I wish I could wiggle my nose and make it happen, it just isn’t worth the inevitable fallout of rushing it. Anything worth doing is worth doing right and I honestly believe that, regardless of how impatient I am. I want it to last — I want my dream life to flourish and bloom.

…I need it to work this time.

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