How a lifetime yogi balances her nerves as a full-time nomad with her husband in their skoolie, Eula Mae.
Written by: Iana Sundari
We were living in Miami when John and I decided to sell everything and buy a bus! When we’d met, John was planning on buying a boat to convert into a home, and I was two seconds away from fleeing to Italy to find myself in good wine and too much pasta. On a random tip, from a Youtube video on gardening, we heard about the United Tiny House Festival in Elkton, FL. By the time we’d left the festival, we were on Craigslist scouting ads for a bus.
Both of us had dreams of settling in another country but agreed that there was a TON yet unseen in the US and I’d never stepped foot in Canada. What started as a way for us to see this country, soon morphed into a full-on Wellness tour with 22 Meditation workshops in 22 cities! We brought Sponsors on board and after 8 months of demoing, roof-raising and building, we took off.
When Paint Matters
A few weeks before we left, a good family friend pulled me to the side. He glanced at our all-white bus and asked if we’d considered adding a little color. The way he asked tipped me off that he was actually asking something else, and he was. He is 68, White, and from the Midwest. He said that our bus looked like a prison bus and that the last thing we needed was to be two Black people climbing out of anything that reminds people of jail, in the deep south.
After telling the scorned painter inside of me to, “Shhhh” and “Listen.” I heard him. We had removed most of our windows for temperature control. We have one window in our bathroom on one side, and french windows in our kitchen. We also have skylights on our roof. Upon inspection, you can see the windows are covered in beautiful grey curtains John stitched by hand. But Black people only get a first glance in America, nothing more. And at first glance, and with John behind the wheel, we were inviting trouble.
And so we took his wise advice and we painted a beautiful green stripe down each side. John hand painted our logo "BLISS OUT" and added a small scene of a nature trail. When we set off on our trip a Native American Reverend came at sunrise and blessed the bus and our travels. On the front grill, she tied a string of prayer bundles filled with traditional herbs and flowers. Eula Mae, my home, looks like a beautiful peaceful solar powered rig. And yet none of that matters. Not the paint, the fancy stripe, the hand-drawn Willow trees, or the Indigenous sunrise prayers. To many, all they see are John and me, and our skin color becomes an immediate threat to their existence.
Neither of us are new to micro, or macro, racial aggressions. We expected ruffled feathers in the South. But here’s what I’ve noticed as we've weaved through this country: most racists of the South have long learned to hold their tongues in public and “tolerate” the changing times and the darker hues that come with it. They’ll shake your hand and call you “ Honey” as their drawl drips with hatred. But when the death of George Floyd lit the match on the pressure cooker that held the Black community, we watched a new breed of crazy appear right around Utah for us and the rest of the world is now watching them daily on the news. This bold bunch throw lighter fluid and then light a match and throw it at a Black woman in traffic. They drag Black men, in state parks, to trees and yell obscenities at him as they try to hang him from a tree in their July 4th bathing suits. They pause the news and walk outside to pull AR-15’s on protestors as they peacefully march PAST their house. And if you dare happen to be eating near them they scream “Nigger” at you until you leave and the police are called by strangers trying to defend you. THIS new group is terrifying and they have us traveling in a completely different way than when we began.
Now I check the population of the town before we even think about stopping there. Less than 10,000 makes us nervous. Less than 10,000 means very few people that look like us. I check the local arrest reports, they’re public. I want to see the types of people they're arresting and how often. We Google their town hall meeting notes because I want to know what the people there are complaining about. I also check the Facebook page for the town. Most have one. If they’re planning on a parade where there’s a Confederate flag involved, or there's some townie complaining about the "Coloreds" at the town pool? It’s a hard pass. (And yes, Paw Paw, I SEE YOU! Your town makes me sad) John can't go into stores, in small towns, that are empty or near closing. Black men already made certain folks nervous. And that's when they could see all of their features. Now, these men have to cover most of their faces to avoid a pandemic and again, let's not forget that we only get one glance. Lastly, I look at their police website and see how many cops are Black. If there’s no one at the precinct that looks like us, except for other prisoners? It’s not the town for us. No Black cops mean there's no one whose sister or cousin looks like me which means there's no hope of guilt building in them if I'm kept in that cage too long. No thank you.
Boondocking, in remote beautiful locations, is out for the time being. We can’t trust being away from cell service and becoming a statistic. Before this all happened, we were traveling pretty often, enjoying the freedom skoolie life brings! Now we plan to drive to a safe house, a friend, or most recently, two beautiful strangers, and stay for a month or two. It’s too stressful otherwise. In between, we stay at rest stops or right behind a business, where there are cameras. And witnesses.
So What Now?
With all of this said, you’d think we’d be over living life on the road. You’d think we’d be looking to sell and hunker down in a traditional home again. But F*CK THAT. :) We built this home. We love this home. This is the most HOME home I’ve ever lived in. We love full-time travel, this community, and the incredible sense of creativity it’s injected into our lives. I’m not letting hatred take what I love from me. Joy is a form of resistance too you know…
And so, we adapt and adjust. He builds more and I spend a lot of time meditating. Both are our ways to remain sane and peaceful. We walk, and cook and laugh and I drink a lot of wine because all balance our nervous system and remind us that it’s not all so ugly. At least not in here, in Eula Mae... Here is where hope lives.
Iana Sundari is the author of the blog, Namaste USA, and hosts Collective Reset podcast. She also offers private yoga sessions as well as birth and death doula services. Follow her journey through her website and on Instagram. Download Iana's new book Sponsors for Nomads here.
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