In May of 2015, I went out to California for several weeks. One of the reasons I'd traveled out there was to pedicab at a festival called Lightning in a Bottle. That entire trip was incredible but one particular moment stands out above all the rest... While working one afternoon, a truck rolled past me going kind of fast and this girl in the truck bed shouted "FERAL!!!!!!" at the top of her lungs. I was confused yet intrigued. The truck kept rolling though and I brushed it off. In my mind I figured she was just someone I had given a pedicab ride to earlier that day.
About an hour later the truck rolls past me again but this time she urges the driver to stop. This girl jumps out of the truck, runs towards me, and gives what I'd describe as a collision hug. I was whole heartedly enjoying the intensity of this hug but still had no idea who she was!! "Have we met?" I finally asked. That's when she said Rhythm and Poetry was one of her favorite albums and that beyond what I do with words she's a fan of my soul and the way I think? This shit was the craziest thing that had ever happened to me. She was saying all this with tears in her eyes too. And so there I was... like 1,300 miles from home in a place that I'd never been with a total stranger crying tears of joy because our paths had crossed. The craziest part was that my being there had nothing to do with rap. I was just working as a pedicab driver!
We sat and talked for a quite while. She gave me a mango and a twenty dollar bill that she'd drawn all over and I gave her two mixtapes. Truthfully, I never spent that $20. I still have it. When we officially parted ways, my life was forever changed. You've got to understand something ... I'm just a young writer from Texas. Those rhymes that she fell in love with? They were recorded in my room on a $100 microphone that I bought with money I'd made delivering pizza. For her to feel that connected was simply unbelievable for me. And I knew from that point forward what I was meant to do. Obviously Hip Hop has always been the focal point of my existence but that hug completed the radicalization of Feral the Earthworm.
I told myself "When I get back to Texas, I'm moving into my van and dedicating 100% of my life to this. And that's exactly what I did! July 1st 2015 my first attempt at van life began. Sounds great and it would have been if a tragic plot twist hadn't intervened... Before I left for California, I picked up a few things from my buddies apartment as a favor. He wanted me to hold onto some of his stuff while he was away. No big deal, right? I certainly didn't think so. Among the items was a tapestry and a kick drum. I put the tapestry in this kick drum to save space not knowing there were roach eggs on the cloth. Yes, you read that correctly. I left the tapestry and kick drum in my van for five weeks while I was away in California (without my vehicle). When I got home everything had already been decided. The hug had convinced me I wanted to live in my van and pursue music full time. Unfortunately for me though I had no idea that a satanic roach infestation had been brewing while I was away.
It started off really subtle. I got into my car late one night and turned on the over head light. When I hit the light, a roach fell onto me. It freaked me the fuck out. I brushed it off and killed it but honestly didn't think very much of the situation. The next time it happened I was driving down the street when I noticed one crawling across the dashboard. That's when my first red flag went off. Two roaches within a few days? No way. I started to think about it. I knew my buddy had a roach problem at his old apartment... Could it be? I pulled over, opened the hatch, and started moving things around. When I shoved the kickdrum, I saw one scurry away. My heart sank.
I looked in the kick drum and there it was ... There were like forty roaches in there dude. An important detail to note is that these were German roaches. They're a lot smaller than the American roach most of us know but they're infinitely more resilient. They also reproduce the fastest. I was terrified when I looked into that kick drum. I immediately took it out of my van and cleaned it. What the fuck was I going to do? I'd already contractually let my apartment go. Van life was set to begin in 14 days!
Like a brave fool I decided to try and stick it out. I moved into my van despite the roach problem. After I'd removed the kick drum I saw a dramatic reduction in the number of roaches. They would appear mostly at night which was terrible. That's when I figured out that roaches can bite. These roaches were literally biting my legs as I tried to sleep. This experience was beyond hellish. I could actually hear them scurrying about some nights while laying in the darkness. To make it worse, I started carrying Raid roach spray in the vehicle. I sprayed it everywhere. Word to the wise; don't blast powerful chemicals in your vehicle while living in it. I learned this the hard way. Eventually I came down with what I call the Roach Flu. It was probably the chemicals but it might have been from those disgusting creatures biting me. Either way, I became violently ill. My fever was 103 and I had nowhere to go. Ironically that same night reports were coming in that my mom had relapsed? This greatly contributed to the fucked up head trip I'd found myself in— Those allegations turned out to be false but I wouldn't learn that for several days. Worst of all, I had nowhere to go. The van WAS my home. I didn't know what to do. I posted a facebook status asking for help and luckily someone replied within 15 minutes. My friend Florian let me crash on his couch but I was still in mental hell. I couldn't sleep. The fever was killing me. At 7AM my buddy Zack told me he was leaving town and that I could stay at his place while he was away. That shit was a lifesaver. Having the privacy to just sit there and heal was so unbelievably wonderful. I nursed myself back to health and decided to sign the lease on a new apartment.
My friends really helped me out during that time. Especially Jon and Zack. I'm eternally grateful. The saddest part for me though is that those vanlife aspirations came from such a pure place. I really just wanted to dedicate more of my life to artistry. In the process though I ended up putting myself in the worst situation possible and making less art than before. Sleeping in the van wasn't an option. In that last week before moving into my new apartment I stayed at the basketball court a lot.
So yeah, sorry for such a lengthy blog but the story had to be told. Thanks for reading. As always feel free to leave a comment below or contact me. And for the record, I still believe in van life. With the proper set up it'll grant me the freedom to tour and pursue Hip Hop whole heartedly.
My next attempt isn't too far away now.