I’m a homeowner. My home is white, has an upstairs loft and a full kitchen. It can comfortably sleep four. It has four tires. My home is a VW Vanagon. She’s a beauty, but not in a shiny new kind of way. She is well worn and lived in.
Original white paint with subtle marks from years on the road; a traitor exterior rust spot giving her age away; and over 200,000 miles on her well-maintained engine. No, she’s definitely not shiny new. She’s more than that. She has character unlike any vehicle I’ve ever seen. It is as if the lives of her previous owners are absorbed in the carpets, the seats, the walls. Untold and told stories of the past, the future and present become one in this van.
We bought the van from Sasha, a nice girl from upstate NY. She didn’t want to sell it and was near tears as we did our deal in a parking lot washed over by the darkest of nights. Sasha spent the Summer of 2012 living in the van in downtown Hudson. Parked near the train station, literally “down by the river”, it was her home. In the mornings, Sasha made pancake breakfasts using the van’s propane stove, together serving her friends and strangers coming off the train.
Before Sasha, the van was used while filming a documentary series about the U.S.-Mexico border, called Border Stories.
Border Stories is re-imagining the documentary, one with no beginning, middle, or end. Its only linear aspect is the border itself. Our crew travels the length of the U.S.–Mexico border, from Brownsville, Texas to Tijuana, Mexico in search of stories that portray the human face of this politically and emotionally-charged region.
These stories live in the van as liittle tangible pieces of memories. Sasha left behind a gift that had been given to her. Sasha’s pancake fans bought her a loudspeaker system that will broadcast farm animal noises, sirens, whatever we preach over the mic system, and most interestingly — an entire collection of children’s songs. Mary Had A Little Lamb,Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – we will be the talk of every town we drive through, just hopefully word doesn’t make it to the police station. Border Stories left behind a photograph of a dog looking out the rear window. At what’s come and gone. At what once was… and in the van, still is.