All You Need is Love: What It’s Like to Live in a Van With Your Fiancé
“I need to buy some bin bags to shit in or there’ll be an explosion in the night,” said my fiancé of one month, roughly three-and-a-half minutes after we’d packed our life’s possessions (and dreams) into our little commuter van.
This suddenly brought to my simple mind a question. Do you really know the person you love until you’ve shared a 1 x 3 metre squared van with them?
For the first few days of our three-month roadtrip, this question rang increasingly louder — though it was often hard to think with the smells of 24-year-old man fart, off bananas and gas exhaust permeating through our four small walls of habitation.
If you require a true test of whether love really can conquer all, get yourself one seriously smelly bloke, jump into the tiniest space on wheels you can think of and hit the road with nothing but each other to get you through the stinking hot nights. Because until you’ve dealt with your partner spilling fishing bait through your week’s worth of food, shared a shoebox of space in 40-degree heat and had next-to-no money to live off, your relationship is still well and truly in honeymoon territory.
Two hours into VanLife, we came across a rather pungent truck stop, upon which we decided we would both rather “piss in the bush” than inhale such stench. When the question arose of what we would do when the dreaded number two came to town, my fiancé exclaimed that he’d make a dunny out of a milk-crate and a bin bag. “I’ll need some water for after though,” he mused, “so the shit doesn’t stick to me.”
I can’t really talk though when, seven days in, I came down with an itchy case of the notorious thrush. Upon learning of such, my fiancé and I had to go into a small pharmacy and describe to the poor check-out-chick my symptoms. But this was nothing compared to the embarrassment of him helping me apply the cream with my legs in the air.
There are no secrets when you live in a van.
There are, however, arguments.
When you’re driving a ’97 model with a dubious reverse gear and tyres that don’t look big enough for a kid’s toy tractor, it’s hard for your passenger to not have a nervous breakdown every time a hill start is encountered. And when our fridge conked out and almost blew up our entire battery set, we decided to pawn it. My fiancé thought it clever to carry the entire contraption into the store, 500 metres away from the car. After several minutes of heated debate, I managed to convince him to nip in and check if they wanted it first. This was just as well, as the shop was not, in fact, keen on our stained old fridge at all.
“You were right,” he muffled in a defeated voice with bitter undertones of admiration and resentment.
Before we hit the road in Australia, my guy and I knew one another pretty darned well from living together and travelling extensively. We’d stayed in some seriously shady hostels, most notably in New Orleans, where bed bugs took up residence in our skin. But something like this was entirely out of our comfort zone, not to mention the bounds of sexually attractive travel.
Back in the days of our cushy Sydney life, I’d literally walk to the pub to take care of my toilet business so as to not hinder my attractiveness to the man I wanted to spend my life with. Cut to the now, and he helps me squat whilst peeing in secluded national parks so I don’t get eaten by a drop bear or something far more horrifying.
It may sound unappealing and at times unhygienic, and believe me — you’re not wrong there. But sleeping illegally in a lightning storm with wet sausages and stale bread is way better than it’s cracked up to be when you have the right human by your side. And when you wake up at 6am, roll over to see a mango coloured sun rising from the ocean and kiss your smelly breathed love in the morning light, it’s well and truly worth it.
And although whoever you’re with may stink to the absolute end of the earth, you love them just as far.