There is a gypsy caravan in my mind’s eye. One of those old fashioned ones with a high peaked roof, an overhang covering the driver’s perch to keep him or her sheltered from the weather, and a Dutch door at the back. It rolls, swaying gently, down the highway, an anachronism in these days of fast cars and bullet trains.
It’s a rich, dark purple, almost black; nothing pastel about it. Perhaps it will have some strange symbols painted in gold along the side, which may ward off the evil eye, or perhaps are just there for luck on the road. Its four wheels will be a concession to the hard road surface, truck tires and axels having replaced the traditional wooden wagon wheels of old.
It has a four-horsepower engine, fueled by grains and oats, four Irish tinker horses with flowing manes and shaggy feet that plod at a steady pace through all weather. They will each be wearing blinkers to protect their eyes from the sight of traffic on either side. I don’t want them shying when a vehicle make a sudden appearance in their field of vision.
Inside will be cramped, with four cats and two people’s accommodations. It will always carry the odours of the last meal cooked mingled with tobacco, coffee, and the smell of old wood. A small stove is parked half way down one wall, its pipe tied with bailing wire to hooks protruding form the wall as it snakes its way out through the roof. In the winter it not only provides a means for cooking but also a source of warmth.
Concessions to modern conveniences will be the chemical toilet curtained off in one corner, and the satellite dish perched on the roof to serve as an internet connection. Electrical power for the computer will come from the small propane generator that also serves to power the small fridge where a few perishables are kept.
We will move down the road at a steady pace, but nowhere near as fast as the traffic scurrying by us to unknown destinations. We’re not trying to get anywhere, because wherever we are is where we were going. We are always at our destination even though we are constantly on the move.
Travelling not for the purpose of going from point A to B but as a state of living is alien to most people. Each time they get behind the wheel of a car, or board a bus, train or plane, they have a specific place they have to be at a specific time. We must appear as aimless drifters, purposeless and lost
But we have no need to join the endless search for whatever it is they hope to find in their running around. Perhaps they are on business trips seeking to complete a deal that will secure them a better job? Or maybe they are headed off in pursuit of the relaxation promised by a vacation? But those aren’t real destinations; they are only way stations on their journey.
What real purpose does that running around serve? It keeps you in the game that we play called the real world. The one where you have to earn money, have responsibilities, and things are expected of you. It’s a strange place, the real world. Full of mistrust, unease, stress, and hatred; I’ve never really been very big on it. Perhaps that’s why I’ve hardly ever had a job in my life.
Oh I’ve worked, perhaps a lot harder and for less money than a lot of people, but in the whole twenty years of my working life, there were only about three years when I received what could be called a paycheck. For the rest of the time I was self-employed. Driving my caravan down the road at the pace that suited my needs and me, not what others thought was right and proper. If there were times when I was hard up for money, at least they were because of choices I had made, not because of decisions that had been foisted on me by others.
In spite of all this supposed independence though I was really in no different a situation than the businessman tied to his job because of a mortgage. I may have imagined myself so at the time, but in reality I was just playing the same game from a different angle. Like everyone else I was running on the spot not getting anywhere.
That’s where the fantasy of the gypsy caravan comes in (and the name gypsyman) it’s a romantic ideal of being able to get away from it all: the politics, the arguments and the hatreds. It’s like a friend I once had who talked about buying an island called Fuck Off and having a dog called Go Away.
Although, within every fantasy is a kernel or reality, and mine is that the gypsy caravan gives me something to shoot for. Not as a physical reality, but as a state of mind. To keep in mind that I am my own ultimate destination, and no matter how hard and fast I travel I will always end up here, in this body.