Tag Archives: independence

Declaration of My Independence


When I was with my boyfriend who turned out to be not very nice, I didn’t make many decisions. Oh, he said he wanted me to make decisions, but the choices I made more often than not turned out to be the wrong ones. It was just less complicated to go along with whatever he wanted.

When I left him, I suddenly was able to decide for myself. No one tried to influence my decisions. No one tried to subtly (or not so subtly) manipulate me. No one told me I was wrong.

When I hit the road with the traveling kids (Mr. Carolina, Sweet L, the Fighting Couple), I was typically happy to do whatever the rest of the group wanted to do. No one was proposing anything I was opposed to, so it was easy to agree. Mr. Carolina, however, always made sure to ask in his Southern drawl, What do you want to do, Blaize? I could tell he truly wanted to know, too. He was honestly interested in what I thought. He really wanted to make sure I had a say in what happened next. He really wanted me to get my needs met.

Sometimes I’d assure him I was happy to go along with whatever proposition was on the table. Sometimes I shared what I thought was a better idea. Always, his question gave me permission to stop and really think about what I wanted to do. His question allowed me to decide if I really wanted to go along with what everyone else wanted. His question kept me from agreeing to do something simply because that’s what all the cool kids were doing.

Having someone ask me what I wanted and taking my response into account was a heady new experience. At some point, in response to Mr. Carolina’s question, What do you want to do, Blaize? the answer that popped out of my mouth was Whatever the fuck I want! It was sort of a joke, but it was also a declaration of my independence.

After I said it the first time, I said it more and more. We’d be doing something–puttering down the interstate in the van, cooking breakfast, lying in the dark waiting to fall asleep–and randomly I would say, Hey, Mr. Carolina, you know what I’m doing right now?

He’d always ask, What? even after I’d asked the question so many times we both knew what was coming next.

What? he’d ask, and I would answer Whatever the fuck I want!

I felt then–and still feel today–blessed–not to mention liberated–to know that most minutes of most hours of most day, I’m doing just what I want to do.


I Get by with a Whole Lot of Help From My Friends


I think I’ve been coming off as independent and self-sufficient.

Well, I am independent. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do. I want to make my own decisions. I want to follow my own path while listening to my own drummer. But self-sufficient? That’s not really been happening. Since I started this journey of unusual living, I’ve been helped by strangers and friends.

After I left my not-very-nice boyfriend in the middle of the night, I ended up homeless for three months. I was spending my nights outside in a sleeping bag given to me by someone I’d just met, carrying everything I owned in a backpack from the same fellow. I mostly ate food given to me at a food bank, and I brushed my teeth in a rest stop restroom. But even with such a simple existence, I didn’t make it alone. A couple of new friends took me into their homes once or twice a week to feed me dinner and let me shower or bathe. Vendors at the outdoor arts and crafts market where I sold sage sticks (and later hemp jewelry) slipped me granola bars or leftovers or (on a very few occasions) a five or ten dollar bill, which I used to buy supplies. One grizzled old horse trader bought me a sandwich one day and gave me a pep talk about how he liked me because I showed up every day and did what I had to do to earn my own way while not asking for nothing from nobody.

When I was lost (meaning after I left the boyfriend and dropped off the face of the earth) friends from my past lives sent out a search party to find me. I was found, and so many people from my past offered love and support in the form of dollars and open invitations to sleep on their couches and in their spare rooms. I used those dollars (and dollars I had earned myself in long days of selling my handiwork in the wind and the sun and the heat) to buy myself a van and go on a fantastic, epic journey where I met new people who became friends and offered me new and appreciated love and (mental and physical) support.

From Mt. Shasta, California, I ended up North Carolina. A wonderful housed-up road sister I’d just met invited me into her home to share Thanksgiving dinner with her family. A couple I’d met at the Bridge on Labor Day weekend welcomed me at the inn they own on the Tuckasegee River. These folks put me up in a suite, fed me, gave me clothes to wear. In both instances, these people barely knew me but treated me like family.

From North Carolina, I ended up in a major Texas city where old friends turned over their spare room to me, fed me, entertained me, gave me access to their laundry room and their internet service, AND gave me a pair of beloved cowgirl boots. Beginning to see a pattern here?

I could go on and on. I could tell you about my Computer Guy who’s helped me out financially several times, as well as making this very website possible. I could tell you about the walk-the-talk young Christian couple who rescued me (and a mentally unstable young man friend, his dog, the woman he was in love with, and her six-month-old baby) in Hot Springs, Arkansas; drove us all to their home in Southern Louisiana; then with the help of their church paid for my bus ticket back to Texas (at my request) and sent me off with a new purple backpack and a few dollars in my pocket. I could tell you about a different set of friends (college buddies) in Texas who took me in, gave me the guest room, fed me, included me in their Friday night extended-family time, loaned me a car when I was without a van, bought me a piece of memory foam for my new (to me) van, and helped me with my insurance payment. I could tell you about the kind and generous people who gave me gas money so I could get to my job in California last summer.

In the comments to my March spending report one of my readers said,

your expenses were close to $600 for the month. Were you able to earn at least $600 during the month?

My response was

No, I didn’t earn $600 in March. I have been living off the money I saved from working last summer and fall. That money is just about gone…

Anyone who has been paying attention is going to wonder what’s going on when they see my April report in a few days. At the end of March, I said I was almost out of money, but the spending report is going to show that I spent a bundle of money on tires (that is a saga for another day) as well as a bunch on insurance. And how did I afford to stay in a room I found through Airbnb while I worked scoring standardized tests? The answer is that I’ve been making it through with money I’ve earned through house sitting and Craigslist jobs, as well as with gifts and loans from people who care about me.

I don’t know how long this way of life is going to last for me. Right now, it doesn’t feel sustainable. I’m tired of being a burden on people, and I worry that people are getting tired of taking care of me. I’ve been stressed a lot about money in 2016. I know money is just a social construct. It doesn’t even matter and it’s not even real (right?) until transmission fluid is leaking or the fuel pump goes out or the metal threads are showing on the back tires (all of which have happened to my van since February).

I think I’ll have to save $2,000 (of an estimated $5,000 gross income) this summer to make it through the fall and winter of 2016 and the first part of 2017 while being able to take care of any van emergencies. Of course, I when I’m not work camping, I’ll fill in with side jobs if I can get them.

I can’t think of any clever, upbeat way to end this post except to say I’m so grateful to everyone who has assisted me, ever, but especially in the last four years. (And if I you have helped me, and I failed to mention you specifically in this post, please don’t think that means I don’t feel gratitude for everything you’ve done for me.) My life would be impossible without so much help.

Declaration of Independence


I was cleaning my vanhome recently and I found a fat envelope I thought contained old letters a friend had written to me. When I looked closely, I realized the handwriting on the paper was mine. On some of the pages I’d copied texts I’d written to friends soon after leaving my not-very-nice boyfriend. On another page was a poem I’d composed less than one month after leaving that guy. I want to share the poem today.

Declaration of Independence

I want to

sport hot pink bandanas,

sleep when the sun set,

and awaken at dawn.


I want to

laugh at my own jokes,

dance among raindrops,

then sit in silence and calm.


I want to

read paperback novels,

eat yogurt and apples,

wear pants and be strong.