Usually when I travel, I’m both glad to go away, and glad to come home. My trip to Maine was no different, except that my home is now a brand new place. The road trip lasted a little over three months, and while it was plenty fun, it was also far from smooth. It definitely felt like a lot of work just to arrive at the start of a journey.

Driving on property

In the next six-ish months, I’ll need to:

  1. Clear my land for building
  2. Install a driveway
  3. Get some temporary solutions in place for:
    • Water
    • Power
    • Bathing
    • Bathroom
  4. Build a large, elevated deck
  5. Install my yome
  6. Add flooring and a heat source

Why six-ish months? Because that’s about the amount of time before snow starts to fly in Maine.

Maine heavy snow

The list above is an imposing amount of work, which is why I’m happy to report that I do have temporary shelter worked out…

I’ve car camped in the woods since I got here, and it’s been mostly nice. The woods exude serenity, providing comfort and aid to good sleep. The single mattress slots perfectly between my hatchback and front seats, with the headliner of the car arching about eighteen inches overhead. The closed in space feels like a large, gentle hug – it’s entirely possible I’m a claustrophile.

Car camping

The biggest challenge of car camping over an extended period of time is simple lack of space. My grandma always said:

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Thanks, grandma – but what if there’s not enough places to put all the everythings? With more stuff than shelves, a good portion of my day has become a variation of a slide puzzle. I go through several ‘reconfigurations’ a day, depending on what I’m using the car for (sleeping, driving, hauling stuff). I’m constantly forgetting to bring things from the car, put things into the car, and store things in a place that’s not going to create some problem five minutes from now. The upshot is that it’s become a sort of meditation training, where the object of the meditation is “where is my stuff, and where does it belong?”

I’ve spent my first weeks in Maine being sucked into these two emotions again and again:

  • Excitement
  • Fear

And my encounters have pointed towards this scientific truth:

There is very little physiological difference between fear and excitement.

I’ve branded this truth into my own experience: in the time it takes the Earth to crank over once on its axis, I can bounce between giddy anticipation and excitement for a completely novel adventure, to borderline terror that I’m in way over my head, and am going to be stuck in the woods alone, floundering, and depressed. A normal day could see me back and forth between the two several times. It seems the biological activation is ever-present, and an emotional state blooms in whichever direction my brain is making meaning at the moment.

Fear in the brain

This kind of flip-flopping does a wonderful job demonstrating the impermanence of emotions, and throws into stark relief that emotions can be a pretty poor guidance mechanism.

A friend of mine once shared her secret for making decisions in the face of strong emotions, and it’s so simple: wait. If she feels something, no matter how strong, she waits a week or two before making any big decisions.

A lot of times things feel quite different on the other side of a pause.

Unfortunately for me, this back and forth has gone on a lot longer than two weeks.

Here’s my steadying force: despite alternating between excitement and fear, when I ask myself the question “have I made the right decision to uproot my life and start over like this?”, the answer is a clear yes, every single time. My inner compass feels true.

And that, to put it mildly, is reassuring.