To buy or not to buy… the continuing saga of Standing Rock

Join me in unraveling my wild ride towards buying an old airport parking bus…almost.

It started with Standing Rock – as many stories these days do. In August, the door of my heart flew open and the Standing Rock cause flew in. I went, delivered warm winter jackets, stayed to help sort them and support the medic team, and drove off with a seed of that remarkable community in my heart.

As the weather chilled and the aggression of law enforcement heated up, I was hit with a desire to go back. In my mind’s eye I could see me and a couple of other granny-aged women showing up to simply help the young men and women on the front lines heal. Just to BE love. Give hugs and warm cocoa. We would go in a motorhome. Oh, but I didn’t have grannies yet and I didn’t have a motorhome. Let the shopping begin.

Diesel, I decided. It needed to outlast the end of gas powered cars and diesel fuel could be made from veggie oil. Pick up truck, I decided, with a camper. Take the camper off and you have something more useful than my little low slung 2-seater hybrid car. Crew cab, I decided, so me and my grannies could ride in comfort. Used, of course. Found one not far from me and almost nabbed it but a knowledgeable friend said the Ford 250 engine between 2002-5 was known to have problems. Internet research and yes indeed, those owners had headaches.


Still on diesel, still on going back to Standing Rock, I researched the Queen of diesel that could also be fitted to sleep in: the Mercedes Benz Sprinter. Found one, already decked out, but ack, they wanted almost 50K. By now I have realized that going to Standing Rock might not be the best choice, even with a camper, because face it, I’m 71 with what they used to call “aching bones” and now call on my way to a hip replacement. No. I’ll send the money I would have spent to some young Lakota men and women recently trained in historical trauma healing. Let them experience the empowerment, offer healing to those young warriors and connect with their tribal allies. Happily I sent $500 to the Freedom Lodge project and settled into raising money, helping others prepare to go and doing local organizing.

Oh, but the diesel Mercedes had lodged in my mind, now with the image of having a reliable van that doesn’t get swallowed by the night, that doesn’t volunteer to be the one to crumple in an accident with an SUV, that could drive literally a busload of allies to demonstrations and meetings.

Enter the used airport parking bus from a dealership not far from my home. We dicker via email to a very good price for the diesel Queen of the road. I start taking out rows of seats in my mind and putting in a bed platform. It will be my very big go-bag for when the BIG ONE hits and I have to get to safety.

By now I know something is off, that I have momentum towards a choice that isn’t holding water. I ask a friend to just listen to me unravel why this airport bus has captivated me.

Captivated. Yes. I had been captured by the idea of this Queen, layering reason upon reason after leaving the main reason – going to Standing Rock – behind.

This airport bus represented the love I felt for the Standing Rock stand. It represented the feeling I have now standing shoulder to shoulder, a nobody with her passion spelled out on a sign, at a demonstration. It represented the end of my long journey away from living in a tight community with very similar ideals and dedications that I found at Standing Rock. We were committed to love and service. We sacrificed personal agendas for the common good. We pitted ourselves as little David’s against the might of the consumer culture, believing we would win. For many of those years, we lived on the road in a motorhome, so clearly I identify the idealism with the minimalism of living in a wheeled home.

Eventually I grew a cancer in my gut where the knot of fear for the world had lodged, and my healing required a level of self-care that took me inward to solitude and outward to as ordinary a life in a small village as I could have. Standing Rock seemed to not only awaken my communitarian after a decade of seclusion. It awakened that heart within me who will sacrifice for what I know is good true and beautiful. Oh what a feeling to have again!

But I didn’t need a used airport shuttle van to have the feeling. I could just have it and have my little 14-year-old car and I could carpool when the winter days end at 4 to whatever collective actions are ahead for me.

Oh, but the next day, driving to a demonstration, I passed a used car lot and there sat a now rare old Sunrader mini-motorhome, a vehicle I’d longed for lo these many many years. And if I buy it, who knows, it may go to Standing Rock. Maybe I’ll call her The Queen.

What have you purchased that has represented a longing that no “thing” can fulfill?


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