Sunday, June 26, 2016

Joe Omundson

new home

This post is a couple days late, I've had a busy week. I now have a house to live in for free! I will tell you how it happened.

It's funny how things happen through unpredictable series of events. I almost didn't take the side trip to Goldmyer hot spring when I hiked the PCT, but then someone convinced me to go there. So I went to the hot spring and when I was there I met this guy who was super into Vipassana meditation, who had been a monk for 7 years, and I talked to him for several hours. I got the name of his Facebook page when we said goodbye.

Fast forward 9 months and I've finished the trail, spent 7 months in Portland living in my car and making an album, and moved to Moab with a few hundred dollars to my name. I was at the library and I noticed this guy's Facebook page showing his van in red-rock country. I sent him a message, "hey if you're ever in Moab let me know." Turns out he'd been here for over a week already, attending the Syncro Solstice, an annual VW van meetup nearby, and we were actually at the library at the same time that day.

I camped with my friend and his family the next night (he, his partner, and their 3(?)-year-old son live in a Vanagon together). At the Solstice they had made some new friends and I met one of them, a guy from New York who'd been traveling in his van for about 5-6 months. I hung out with this guy in town for a few days after my PCT friend and his family had left. Through him, I met a gal they'd all become friends with at Syncro Solstice who has lived here in town for 12 years. (I also met the new-moon friend I talked about in my mushrooms post when I was at a bar with this guy.) I heard that she needed some help with construction projects and owned a few properties, and I was interested in working with her because of her views on money, community, and ethics. So I sent her a message explaining what my skills were and what I was looking for in return.

So, we started talking about potential opportunities for projects I could work on. I fixed a water line in her van. I started researching solar panels and newer van fridges. I started on a cleanup project at a warehouse she owns. In return she paid me some money for the van repair, gave me access to her guest house for showers and hangout space, and said I could park at the warehouse any time. This was all going quite well.

Then on Monday she said "meet me at the warehouse, I want to show you another project." So I got there, and we walked down the street half a block to a property she'd recently acquired. It's amazing -- it has quiet and private parking, it's got a shop building, a 3-bedroom manufactured home, a few acres of beautiful land, one of the biggest trees in Moab, lots of shady hangout spots, fruit trees, and a pool (once it gets cleaned out). The kitchen appliances work, there's a washer & dryer, and a swamp cooler that blows cold air. All this, and it's just a couple blocks from the center of downtown.

She asked me if I wanted to be in charge of renovating the house & property to make them usable for their next purpose, and live there for free for the next 6 months or so. I said yes!

I think she wants to do something community-oriented with the land like an event space or a kids' community space or maybe something else, and the house will be turned into a rental home, but I think those decisions are still up in the air. So it's kind of fun that my own vision might have some impact on what ends up happening. If it were my property I'd make it a home base for vandwellers :) but I think it's going to be cool regardless of exactly what it turns out to be.

I didn't really know I was looking for this, or needed this, but it's been amazing to have a kitchen, some privacy, a quiet place to park (I still prefer to sleep in my car), and to do some manual labor. It's good to get the exercise and have this break from the internet. And it's nice to feel like I have a way to provide for myself rather than constantly depleting my meager savings. It's the first time I've worked in about 26 months. So this week instead of blogging I've been tearing out old carpet/flooring, cleaning up the house, and getting familiar with the irrigation systems.

It feels like a healing and growth opportunity. An opportunity to make a home, curate the energy in this new space, and find my tribe. I think I loved the PCT because it was such a world apart from everything I knew back in Portland, there were like-minded people, and I got to define for myself what my priorities were and how I wanted to spend my time. Portland is great but when I was there I ended up feeling like I wanted to leave for another PCT-like experience. More self-finding work to do. Except this time I didn't want everything to be constantly moving and changing, I didn't want to hike that far, and I wanted to find a new home base in a smaller town. So, I came to Moab, and the new setup on this property feels like a big step toward my goals. Now I am supported to live my life the way I want here. Even though I won't live at this house forever, home exists in the connections I make with people who live in this town, so that even if I move on to another location someday, there will be friends and opportunities waiting whenever I come back.

It is always interesting to me when someone trusts me with a significant amount of responsibility without knowing me for very long. It's like when I met the owner of a yoga studio about doing a work-study agreement and after 15 minutes she gave me the key combo for the front door. I could have stolen from the shop; I could trash this lady's home and take advantage of the situation. But I'm not like that and I guess people can tell. It feels good when people trust me and I always do my best to demonstrate that they made a good choice in doing so.

I have said before that I believe in going with the flow, yet choosing which flow you get into carefully. I think that's what I did when I moved here. My strategy is to be ultra-flexible and have very low requirements so that I can be patient to find just the right flow. I avoided the conventional wisdom of getting an hourly job in town because then I'd have less ability to make myself available for opportunities that I really wanted, like this one. Somehow... it worked out great. I guess it's about knowing what you really want, giving yourself some time to find the right situation, and once it presents itself and you know it's the right one, jumping into it and doing a good job. And trusting that even if everything fails or takes longer than expected, you're probably not going to die.

Joe Omundson

About Joe Omundson -

Joe Omundson is working to piece together a cohesive philosophy of lifestyle, spirituality, society, and the natural world.

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