Our new home is soon to be discovered. We are a team. We have a trusted builder who worked on our house in 2010 and has been with us every step of the way since the fire. We have an architect and his spouse who are new to our fold but have enchanted us. And, of course, there are the two, well, three of us counting Sophie the hound.
My spouse may be the only person in the universe who likes to do errands. When he was a young man with a lot of energy and cheaper gas, he would go to town to do something, come home, and then go back. I could never understand why he did not batch process his errands. After several years of tussling over why you would go to town twice for two items that could be obtained at the same time, we stumbled onto the fact that he liked errands. Amazing. He does batch process now but he is still heroic with his errand-ing. He does most of the grocery shopping. When he comes home with bags of groceries, I always say, “What’d we get?” It is fun to see what I get to work with. Sometimes there is a list but most often he goes out into the world and finds the food that is good and fresh I have the pleasure of using fine ingredients to build our meals in pleasing and nutritious ways. He is a hunter-gatherer of epic proportions.
After the house burned, like I do with the groceries, I looked to see “what we got” and set out to make the best thing I could. I focused on getting the job done; on sifting through the ash, replacing our burned clothes, toothbrushes, and sheets; on filing insurance claims and generally getting us re-situated as quickly as possible. As I wrote in my July 29 post, Islands http://intermountainwest.tumblr.com/post/28256945782/july-29-islands I was trying to make safe places of familiarity for us. I was worried about the long-term potentially traumatic effects of experiencing a catastrophic event. I was trying to make us safe. What I was not doing was errands.
My spouse was doing errands. A few hours after we evacuated, just after we got into our hotel room, he stood up, patted his pocket and said, “I will be right back, I need to go get a computer cable. I forgot to get one when we left.” He returned soon with a computer power cord, an HDMI cable and a pizza. We had been eagerly looking forward to the final two episodes of a BBC post- apocalyptic television series we had been watching for weeks. He went off and hunted down the cords and gathered the pizza. We hooked up the computer to the TV and, and with pizza in hand, watched the conclusion of our post-apocalyptic psychological thriller. It sounds strange as I type it but it was what we had planned to do that evening and had been looking forward to it. We did what we had hoped to do. What happened between our eager anticipation of pizza and a movie and the real-life pizza and movie was not planned. Our real-life pizza and movie certainly had a surreal aspect to it but there was also an important anchoring aspect. We were both fully aware that we had fire with our pizza. The frightening fire and the peperoni pizza were absolutely real and it was important for us to acknowledge both. Without the hunter-gatherer we would not have had that clarifying and calming moment.
As the days passed after the fire and all of the various insurance adjustors had come and gone, we sat down—my sister, our builder and the two of us—to try to parse out who would do what in the coming days. It became increasingly clear how important it was to track down this and that document, survey, permit, form, mail, etc. Three of us looked at each other with hooded-dread. The hunter-gatherer to the rescue. My spouse has stood in line, gone from one office to the other and back again, and then back again to find papers, surveys, permits, details, setback rules and more. We just say, “We need this,” and off he goes. I would probably murder the person in line in front of me or drive into a stop sign out of frustration from going back and forth between the same two offices across town from one another to get the same paper. I won’t say he is cheerful about it but one must admire his fortitude—and appreciate the work.
So, our team includes our architect and spouse, our builder, our hunter-gatherer and me. I am never quite sure what to call myself. Sometimes a busy-body comes to mind. I have my fingers in every pie. I told folks this weekend as we were coming to the final decisions about working together that sometimes I got into the middle of things I should not be in the middle of and that they should just tell me. I can be stubborn but I am not dumb. If I am swamping the boat and I don’t know it, someone should tell me to sit down. I can be corrected. I know a lot too. Really, I do know a lot, not just think I know a lot. I know bargain hunting. So, my job is going to be internet procurement. I know where to get sinks, toilets, fasteners, paint and other sundries necessary to getting ideas and dreams and sticks and bricks into something that has a door, a light, a sink, a lock and a potty. I have to be taught how to procure some things and I might not be able to learn. It is yet to be determined as to whether or not I can be trusted with our trusses. Most of all, I can articulate what makes sense to my family, what we want and what we need to have the home be, not just a beautiful place, but one that is about us and that reflects who we are in the world.
Together our team has shared meals and stories and walked on our land; we have sat on coolers in the 100 degree heat and shared bottles of water. We have exchanged thoughts and dreams and hovered over the topo map that tells us about the odd shape and contours of our land. We have stared at that little bit of land wondering what it had to tell us.
We go forward, our team, listening to the story of our land and the home that is waiting to be found. I was uncertain looking for it when I tried to see with just my two eyes. Gazing with 10 eyes, accompanied by one hound, I am confident we will see through the smoke and ash of the fire and find the dream that is waiting to be found.