One thing I’ve learned living #vanlife is that I can go a long time without showering.  My longest shower-free stint has been eight days, and I’m not gonna lie, I felt totally fine.  But then I flew into Austin and the second the humid air hit me and I started sweating, I needed a shower ASAP.  That’s the thing with me and infrequent showers, I feel pretty okay for an extended period of time, until suddenly something happens to tip the scales in the direction of “gross” and then I need a shower IMMEDIATELY.  Once I hit that point, showering is literally the only thing I can think about and it becomes absolutely all consuming.I was in San Francisco and it had been seven days since my last shower.  I was caravanning with a group of van friends.  We showed our van homes at the Tiny House Festival in San Jose, explored wine country in Napa, and spent a day experiencing the insanity of San Francisco Pride. Our last night as a caravan, I decided to do something I hadn’t done in my entire three months of full-time solo vanlife:

I went on Bumble.

I re-downloaded the app, added a bunch of van girl pics, and then linked my Instagram.  I swiped a few guys, matched a few, enjoyed the brief “high” of the digital feedback loop, and then went to bed.

In the morning, I saw a match who looked fun and funny.  I messaged him, “Hi Sam.”  He messaged back immediately— apparently he had found me on Instagram the night before and messaged me, but I hadn’t seen it.

It was at this point that I spilled coffee on my leg and the non-gross to gross scale was tipped in the gross direction, and I had only one mission in life: SHOWER IMMEDIATELY.

Going to the downtown San Francisco Planet Fitness was nearly impossible.  I couldn’t fit in the garage, there was no parking, and everyone on the road hated me.  I decided to drive to the Planet Fitness 45 minutes out of town, just to escape the madness.  I finally got there, but it was gross.  Like old band-aids on the floor gross.  I just couldn’t shower there.  But I HAD to shower.  So I made a decision: I would leave San Francisco immediately and never come back.  I’d drive to the suburbs far far away where the parking was plentiful and the gyms were clean.

It was at that moment that Sam messaged me: “How long are you in town for?”

“I’m gonna leave now,” I declared.

He wanted me to stay and offered to tour me around…I analyzed his photos, googled his name and place of work, and decided he was harmless: “If you have a shower to offer, I’ll hang for another day.”

I parked near his place in Nob Hill but I got cold feet.  I hadn’t been dating at all and was still traumatized by my terrible vanlife breakup a few months back.  I texted him again—can you send me a video of yourself saying hi?  I had already looked at his social media and Linkedin and work website and could tell that he wasn’t a serial killer.  He sent me a nice awkward video “Hi Lisa!” and so I went to his place.

He was incredibly sweet, offering me the shower immediately, “Take your time, relax, no pressure to hang out afterwards if you’re not feeling up to it, just make yourself comfortable and enjoy.”  His calming energy was palpable.

Sam paid $1,500/month for a bedroom in a 3-bedroom apartment with no living room and a teeny tiny bathroom.  To me, it was the lap of luxury.  Once in the shower, I could hear a magical musical instrument playing in the distance.  These peaceful ‘dings’ and ‘dongs’ played hypnotically for my entire glorious 45-minute shower.  I feel in love with this sound.

When I got out of the bathroom, I saw that Sam was the one playing the music on a tiny drum called the happy drum.  The second I really looked at him, I had an overwhelming urge to kiss him.  It wasn’t sexual desire exactly, it was more like an energetic pull.

He showed me the roof of his building, he showed me to the garden on the first floor.  We walked through the garden, smelling every flower and tasting every fresh berry.  Sam turned around and I kissed him.  We kissed for two minutes and then he took my hand and led me to the San Francisco streets.  We sat in a corner booth at a Chinese restaurant and drank sake staring into each other’s eyes.  He looked at me intensely, “You get it.”  I felt like he was right: I felt like I got “it.”  Though we had only spoken maybe 100 words to each other, we walked hand-in-hand with the ease of a couple who’s been together for years.I stayed with Sam for three weeks.  Freebird found a parking spot right on the street in front of Sam’s apartment, where she only got one ticket the entire time.  We dated, we danced, we took weekend trips in the van, we went to friend’s birthday dinners together, I met his entire family, we talked about our future together.

He started researching camper vans.

At the suggestion of an Instagram follower, I went to a tarot card reader in the Haight-Ashbury district.  I asked her about Sam.  “You can trust him,” she said.  “Listen to him.”  
Sam had a trip planned to Peru: a 10-day ayhuasca jungle retreat.  He hinted at inviting me, but I didn’t feel like it was right for me to go.  The day he left we had this exchange:

Me: Part of me wants to tell you to be free and to be open to other people.  I feel like maybe you’re meant to meet someone else and I’m diverting you from your path.
Sam: But I feel so good about us.  I want us to be together.  I want us to be exclusive.
And so Sam disappeared into the jungle for ten days.  I fell in love with him while he was away.  I planned our future: he’s getting a van, he’s coming to my gathering, he’s going to start working remotely, we’re going to be together forever in a perfect vanlife couple caravan.
When Sam returned to civilization, he said he wasn’t ready to talk…he was “still processing.”  He took several days to “process.”  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt—four sessions of intense drugs for ten days has got to throw you off balance—but I knew in my gut that it was over.  We finally spoke and my fear was confirmed: he met someone else.  He said he was sorry.  He said he wanted me to experience what he had experienced.  He brought up Burning Man (neither of us had been, but I had mentioned it to him many times), “If you feel called to go to Burning Man, you should go.  Maybe that’s the experience that’s meant for you.  I want you to experience what I’ve experienced and maybe you will find that at Burning Man.”

And that was the first and last time I ever Bumbled for a shower.

- Vacay Vans
Vacay Vans author Vacay Vans
Vacay Vans is the complete guide to all things vanlife! Whether you're a vanlifer, in the thick of building out your DIY camper van, or even if you're just a little "van curious" want to learn about the lifestyle, Vacay Vans has all the resources and information you need! Ditch the 9-5 and embrace the open road!

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10 thoughts on “Vanlife Dating on the Road – Bumbling for Showers

  1. One of the the best story that I ever read…you know how to write and how to transfer your emotion to the others. Wish you all the best

  2. It sucks that things didn’t work out in the end, but some of the best interactions I’ve had with people have been fleeting. I live in Chicago & met someone on Tinder who was in town from NY but I t was her last night. She reached out the next time she was in town and we met up and hung out like two friends that hadn’t seen each other for a lifetime. We hung out for a few days and cried like babies when she had to leave. It sucks not having that all the time, but I know we can pick up where we left off the next time we are in the same city.

    1. Interesting…yeah I guess that’s true, but it’s difficult to not view it kind of negatively since it ended so abruptly. That’s pretty wild that you have that connection…any chance you’ll pursue something more frequently?

    1. It really really did! The first sentence Sam (not his real name) said to me after his trip was “I think you should go to Burning Man.” It was before he told me that he met someone else and it was so bizarre. But that’s where I met Montana, so maybe things were meant to happen that way…

  3. Try not to get so Deeply involved while traveling on the road Sometimes its Lianly But iv found Nothingd Forever I Charish the People iv met Ehile Traveling for 25 yrs and Stjll loving every Mjnute of it come to Fla and have Fun !!!!!

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