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2 people who lived in a van share lessons they learned while on the road



Time now for StoryCorps. In 2014, Kat Valentino was living in a motel with her family. Eventually, they ended up living in their van. They spent years on the road stopping in parking lots and campgrounds, meeting other people living the same way. That's how they met 27-year-old Vincent Mosemann. At StoryCorps, Kat and Vincent talked about what brought them together.

KAT VALENTINO: We were in such dire straits that it was throw everything in the van and go. We had no way to cook food, no bed. We had a pile of blankets on the floor in the back of the van, and all three of us slept like puppies in a basket. There wasn't any tomorrow or next week. There was just right now.

VINCENT MOSEMANN: For me, I was working full time, but I wasn't getting a whole lot of money. I was like, how am I going to afford an apartment? When I told my mom I wanted to move into the van, she said, I feel like you're running away from your life. I told her I feel like I'm running towards it, but I was worried about being in the middle of the desert with no safety net. Then I met you, and now I kind of joke you're like my adopted mom.

VALENTINO: Your road mom (laughter).

MOSEMANN: My road mom, yeah. You had your feet on the ground longer than I did. So it was nice to be able to reach out to someone.

VALENTINO: And be fed by someone (laughter).

MOSEMANN: And be fed, yes.

VALENTINO: One of the realizations I came to is that the people who have the least are the most generous.

MOSEMANN: Yeah. I didn't feel like I was just out there trying to figure everything out by myself. And living on the road, you have to slow down because if you don't, you're going to miss the little butterfly floating around or you're going to miss the fact that the hummingbird is in your camp.

VALENTINO: Exactly. So what do you think the biggest lesson you learned was?

MOSEMANN: That I can stand on my own two feet, but that doesn't mean I can't ask for help.

VALENTINO: We had been pushed by circumstance. But regardless of what happens, we know that we can handle it now.


MARTIN: That's Kat Valentino and Vincent Mosemann for StoryCorps. Vincent, Kat and her son have lived in an apartment together in Oregon since 2017, and they still get homesick for the road. Their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "SAGE THE HUNTER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Janmaris Perez