It Takes A Village
We did it, y'all. We flew the coup. As I write this, we're cruising down US Highway 24 somewhere around Napoleon, OH. I'm typing a blog at my kitchen counter on my way to see some of my favorite humans in Fort Wayne IN. We'll spend tonight there, then head east to Hocking Hills State Park where we'll camp for a couple of days, before making our way to my sisters house in Charlottesville, VA. At least, that's the plan as of right this moment.
As we're cruising along, I can't help but reflect on how many people have contributed to making this whole dream come to life. Kyle's parents, Cathy & Mark not only put us up for 7 months while we built the bus and got our finances in order, they also cooked us amazing meals, took us out, celebrated holidays with us, taught me how to play Euchre, and cheered us on every step of the way. The truth of the matter is, they didn't have to take any of us in, but they especially didn't have to take Jake and me in. When we moved into their basement, Kyle and I hadn't even been dating for a year, and they'd only met me a handful of times. The faith and trust they put in me, and the generosity they showed is something rare and beautiful, and will never be forgotten. It wasn't always easy living far away from my whole family, but being welcomed into Kyle's with open arms is something I'll always be grateful for.
Speaking of Kyle's family, his sister Ashley, her husband, Rex and their most precious Isabel have been some of our biggest supporters from the get-go. From joining our Patreon right when it launched, letting us park the bus in front of their house for two weeks before we left, to literally stocking and customizing our entire kitchen and making us coffee every morning (not to mention cleaning Jake's bodily fluid after he had an unfortunate accident while we were at the mural site), Ashley's sisterhood has been a beacon of warmth and comfort in a time when I've been anxious and scatterbrained.
Then there's Barb & Derek Gentile, who were so amazing in letting us park Agatha on their property for the entire duration of the build and use their tools/barn. If you haven't undertaken a task like converting a school bus, it's tough to understand how big of a deal this is. Many people who want to convert to "skoolie life" abandon that dream before it even starts because they don't have a place to park the bus in the interim, or the tools to build it out. The Gentile's provided us with both, effectively facilitating this entire situation.
My employers at InkAddict have been more accommodating to this unconventional lifestyle than I could ever expect any employer to be. I was nervous to tell them that I planned to hit the road and would only be available remotely, but we've worked together to create a functioning position that works well for all of us.
My sister, Cali, has been anxiously awaiting our arrival for four months. FOUR MONTHS. But every time I've had to call her and let her know we had to push off our departure date, she's been so incredibly understanding and easy. It's never felt like a bother that our plans which affect her change on a day-to-day basis. She's offered moral and financial support since day one (of my life, really) and I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE HER AND HUG HER FACE OFF. Probably this weekend. Keep an eye on our Instagram for a teary reunion
My entire family, though scattered around the country, have been there for me through all of the ups and downs, via the internet and the incredible technology of group text. Having a group chat with my mom and all my siblings (I'm one of 5) in one place is nothing short of incredible. I've loved being able to update them in real time with all of our struggles and successes, and it will be equally as amazing to be able to "take them along" on our travels as we go. This may be one of the few years I get to see every member of my family in the same year because of the bus, and just the thought of that possibility makes me smile so big.
There have been so many friends who have helped us get this far, too. In fact, one of the things that got me thinking about how much everyone has helped us was a seemingly small act that one of my favorite humans, Katie Jo did for us just a couple hours ago - she asked a few business owners in Fort Wayne if we could park the bus outside their establishments so our friends could swing by and wish us off while we are in town for the night. Katie's incredibly well known and beloved in Fort Wayne (and anywhere else she goes), so it didn't take long before she got a "yes". That took so much anxiety off my plate, and now we can just focus on getting there and hanging out.
Every act of support impacts us greatly. Every text, phone call, and DM to see how we're doing, every like, comment, and share/repost of our work is an act so much bigger than you could possibly imagine. We officially live off word of mouth now. Every time someone shares our work, there's potential that a new client could see it. The last two mural jobs Kyle got were because of word of mouth, and because of them (as well as all the above-mentioned angels), we were able to hit the road and pursue our dreams today. Without even one of these people's support, none of this would have been possible. It truly took a village to get our dreams off the ground, and I'm eternally grateful for all the people that were willing to be a part of it.