A question people frequently ask me when they see the inside of my van is Where do you sleep? I guess that’s because they expect to see a bed in there, but my bed is hidden behind a curtain.
When I was a vendor at the Bridge, I worked out of my van and kept the side doors open all day. I often saw tourist craning their necks, trying to get a look into my living space. The nosy tourists might have thought they were slick, but I knew exactly what they were doing. Some people with good manners asked if they could look in my van. These people I graciously invited to step behind my tables of merchandise and check out my home. I don’t mind people looking so much as I mind people looking without asking.
Each of my first two vans had a bench seat already folded down into a double bed at the time of purchase. While a double bed was quite luxurious, it was really more room than I needed at night. I usually used at least half of the bed as a haphazard storage area.
When I got my third van, there was no bench seat in the back, no sort of bed at all.
My Rock Guy’s friend had a grandiose plan of the bed he would build for me in the van. (He probably also had a plan for the wad of cash he expected I would give him in exchange for his carpentry work.) My Rock Guy, however, told me not to waste my money.
My Rock Guy rummaged through the piles of building materials he had scattered on his land. He found a piece of plywood and cut it to fit across the width of the van. He also found three lengths of thick boards to hold the plywood off the floor. On top of the plywood, I put the folded-in-half double-bed-size piece of memory foam which had been given to me when I bought van number two. Once I added sheets and blankets, I had a bed. (You’ll thank me if you ever have to move a piano, My Rock Guy said of this easily disassembled bed.)
(After a few months, I decided I needed more storage space under the bed, so I bought a few 9 and 1/8 inch plastic tubs with lids. These tubs brought my bed up just about as high as it can go and still allow me to sit up and not bang my head on the weird, two-level low and lower ceiling above where I sleep. In the under-bed plastic tubs, I keep extra food, jewelry making supplies, and other things I don’t need every day.)
One thing I really wanted in the new van was a curtain to hide my sleeping area. Maybe I’m weird, but it seems so…intimate…to have strangers gawking at my bed.
I found a cool sheet with a sort of 70s floral pattern at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. The sheet wasn’t priced. When I brought it up to the counter, the lady working said the price was $2. I told her I didn’t like it enough to pay $2, so she said I could have it for $1. I said I did like it enough to pay $1, and I bought it.
Since the sheet was too long, I folded it in half and pinned the two edges together. When I asked My Rock Guy if he had a curtain rod I could have to hang the curtain/sheet, he told me it would be much better to hang it on a bungee cord (which I already had). He was absolutely right! If the curtain were on a rigid rod, I’d have accidentally pulled it down many times. Instead of falling on my head whenever I unintentionally sit on the curtain or tug on it too hard, the bungee cord moves with my mistakes and stays in place.
While the curtain keeps people from seeing my bed, it also causes confusion about my sleeping arrangement. People look in my van, don’t see a bed, and ask (usually with a note of panic in their voices), Where do you sleep?
I was asked the question twice in less than half an hour on the last day of the 2016 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.
I’d driven my van up to the fire pit/seminar area to pick up the remains of the free pile and drive everything to a thrift store in town. There was some confusion about who was taking what and when, and an older-than-I-am fellow offered to help me carry the large, heavy garbage bags full of free stuff to my van. I took him up on his offer. When I opened the side door, he not only hoisted in the bag he was carrying, he also let his nosy head follow it in so he could have a look around. Where do you sleep? he demanded. (Please note, this man was not a friend or even an acquaintance. He was just some dude I’d never talked to before, some dude helping me carry bags.) I answered, Behind the curtain, before I closed the door and hustled him away from my van home.
There was more confusion about who and when, and a woman showed up who’d also volunteered to drive the remains of the free pile into town. While she and I were figuring out who would make the trip, yet another woman showed up to help.
This second woman went right up to my open side door and started touching the cloth covering of the door panel, the decorative strips of wood, and my organizing pockets. She proceeded to ask me about every aspect of the door (while I was still trying to figure things out with the first woman.) I tried to tell her quickly that since the van is a conversion van, it came with the fuzzy panels and decorative wood, but before I could get the explanation out of my mouth, she’d stuck her head in my van and asked in a panic, Where do you sleep?
I refrained from saying, None of your business, nosy stranger!
For all of you who were wondering, here’s a photo showing where I sleep:
I took the photos in this post.