In New Mexico, we met Cassandra. At least, I think that’s how you spell her name, I never asked. She was living out of an old Dodge camper crammed with all of her possessions. When she invited me to look in her van I hesitated because I could see through the window. She politely moved her blankets, pots, and a few other items out of the front seat and stated we could not enter from the side door we had to crawl in from the front seat. I’m not sure what circumstances led Cassandra to where she is now. She talked of traveling the world, graduating from film school with a major in documentary filmmaking, and dreams of making it in her future business. Cassandra seemed to be at one of those ages where you can’t really tell how old someone is but they’re more than 30 but probably not over 50 with greying hair that could have easily been dreadlocks.
She called herself a full-time traveler. She was a wanderer. She spoke of being in Bulgaria or Russia or someplace years ago while she came and borrowed our electric pole to charge her phone. I was cleaning up after dinner while my wife sat and chatted with her. I overheard her telling a story of watching a small Romanian boy play with a knife until he cut his finger and his mother consoled the child by putting some breastmilk on the wound. Cassandra seemed to have stories from everywhere. Her last great adventure seemed to be in India where she had made some connections with fabric makers and decided she was going to enter high fashion and design. The details of which there aren’t many. I do recall her saying she wanted to charge between $5000 and $8000 for a blouse she recently designed. IS there a place where people will pay $8000 for a blouse?
We’ve been full timing it for about 2 years now with a few months settled with my parents while we renovated our new trailer after the old one fell apart in the middle of the Arizona desert. So, like I said, we’ve been full-time traveling for years and I’ve met all kinds of gypsies and weirdos. We’re probably among the weirdos. I’ve met some of the nicest people and not met some of the grumpiest side eyes. My point is, Cassandra stands out as a personality I won’t soon forget. I may forget her name, but I’ll probably always remember that one lady who wanted to sell clothes she had someone else make for 10 grand with no idea where to start.
I’m not sure how I feel about the stories she told. To me, it sounds like a cautionary tale of living beyond your means for too many years without a plan of savings or long-term thought. She claims to have traveled the world and seen so many interesting things. I wish her the best and hope she can make something of herself or at least enough to keep going, to get out of poverty as she kept calling it. Life is a long time and we all get to choose how we spend our time. I’ve been told by so many with many more years than I have that we won’t regret the meetings we miss or the days we missed at work. We will miss the time we missed our children growing up, laughing, playing, and seeing the world.
Except no. On the greater whole, yes, the time we spend is important with our kids, bettering ourselves, yes even working. Being a productive part of our society is underrated these days. I think sometimes the only option I have is to be nothing or create a startup worth millions. I have friends that say they are completely happy “being a cog in the machine.” The thought of that petrifies me. I want to create, contribute; to be brave and step forward into that great night or whatever. Like Cassandra though, how long do we wander? Forever? Do we accept the inevitability that we’re all not meant to be incredible at whatever it is God has created us for? Maybe, or maybe we just need to listen more and wander less. Dedication to tasks when boredom strikes create discipline instead of task hopping and excusing it with ADHD self-diagnoses. I’m still trying to figure it all out myself. Maybe I’ll move to New Mexico and live in a van for a while.