There are several stages to leaving a place you've called home for a while.
It's easy to physically leave a place when you live in a van. You just pack up your things, put the key in the ignition and drive away. The #vanlife does the hard thing of moving for you. One of the most stressful times in people's lives becomes a matter of minutes to you.
But it takes time for a place to leave you.
The dust a place leaves behind takes much longer than a few minutes to fade away.
The first layer of dust is washed off when you take your first shower in a new town, new city, or new campsite. The dust that has accumulated in your eyebrows and in the sweat lines near the base of your neck gets washed away down a new drain.
The next layer has settled deeper into your skin. You find it when you finally clip your fingernails and take a cue tip to your ears. It's been hiding in between your toes and there is always a bit more being washed out of your scalp. (or at least my scalp)
Then there is the layer just a bit farther removed. You kick dust off your shoes for a few days, the old dust mixes with the new dust of a different mountain or desert or beach. When you take your clothes to a laundromat for the first time and you wash away the accumulated mud and grit from the old place you make them clean and ready for new mud and new grit.
Your clothes no longer smell like the campfire of the last place you called home.
The first time you sweep your floors in a new place, you see all the old dust from the old place being wiped away, like a clean slate. For me, the memories of all the boots that tracked mud into my van go through my mind. I remember all the feet that walked here and all the people attached to those feet. I'm sweeping the memory of them away and making room for new feet, new boots and new dust.
But there is always a final layer of dust that you can't control. It's the dust that's coating the inner lock of your front door. The dust that settles around the mouth of your fuel tank. The dust that sneaks underneath the drawers and lays there in limbo for an unforeseeable amount of time.
The remains of your previous home have a way of lingering, and when you least expect it, will remind you of its presence when you check under the hood to change the oil. Or peek into the glovebox to find your registration.
The road dust tells a story of the places you've been.
This chunk of gravel came from Joshua Tree, this red sand is from Indian Creek, there is a crust of mud from Yosemite, the yellow sand is from the beach in Santa Cruz as it was shaken off my wetsuit.
There are layers to leaving a place, and I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes there are layers to a place leaving you as well.