Audio Post double and languid time Oct 2 2012
It is hard to believe we have been in the temporary rental house for two months now where we wait for our burned home to rebuilt. The hardest part, and perhaps the best part, is that it seems a lot longer. In a lot of ways it does not just seem longer, it is longer. I think trying to work and live a regular life along with fire recovery makes things go in double time, a month is not a month, it has two moments for each one.
My dad served in World War II in the U.S. Navy. Like so many parents who serve in wars, my dad did not talk about the war. He did, however, being a “Navy man,” make jokes about the Army soldiers who had to march double time. When we dawdled he would tell us to march double time. His request did not do much to stop the languid, curious progress of children.
The fire burned away the last vestiges of our languid, curious progress of children and makes us march double time. After a while you have done it long enough you don’t recognize it. I suppose it is that way with soldiers too. You move so fast for so long you don’t realize how fast things are moving. Time contracts and expands simultaneously so every moment single moment is as densely packed as two.
Time is just time. Days and nights come and go demonstrated by the sun and the moon for those of us above or below the 60th parallel. The sum of days and nights is amorphous and the concept of time inadequate.
My spouse has been glued to the computer the past 24 hours. He told me over dinner that his students were turning in their first of three exams tomorrow and that he told them they could email him with questions. I remarked that the exam was close to the start of the semester and that he was making them march double time. He pointed out that the semester was 6 weeks old; nearly a third over.
Time is a relative concept. Not unlike not grasping how long we put up with “praying dishwasher” in our old house, we have indeterminate appliance time in our temporary house too. With what we dubbed the “praying dishwasher” you had to get down on our hands and knees to position the racks in order to close the door. While it was happening, we did not think about how long it was but later realized it was the better part of a year. Our temporary home praying dishwasher equivalent is the cook top. When we looked at the house the landlady showed us that the cook top worked poorly. It had two eyes that heated a little. By the time we moved in, only one was left. That eye still works on occasion. It has the unique habit of taking forever to heat, cooking for a while and then stopping and sometimes much later turning itself back on.
We expect a new cook top in the next couple of weeks but I was surprised to realize that we had not had one for two months now. At first we relied on the microwave and an older but functioning built-in griddle. Like the griddle, that plan was functioning but getting old. One day I thought to use our camping stove. We pulled out our new folding camping kitchen and placed on it our new, shiny, red Coleman propane gas stove. We nodded to each other with a wink of smug pleasure and said simultaneously, “Now you are cooking with gas.” We both burst out laughing. The phrase, “now you are cooking with gas,” came from an advertising slogan touting the benefits of gas over wood stove cooking. Over the years it has come to mean that you are doing something efficiently or correctly. So, we were finally cooking, it was with gas, and we had been efficient in thinking to use an outdoor kitchen for cooking.
The succulent things one can do with a burner and a pot are surprising. It has only been about a week or that we have been using the Coleman stove but during that time we have had such luxuries as boiled pasta and bean soup. We have been happy to march double time to the table.
Our new house is not marching in double time. It does, however include plans for a kitchen. I think it will have a cook top and a stove for good measure. As we look forward to the permitting process, it looks like we will be forced into languid time. The process does not promise to be fast. It feels as if winter is marching double time right past fall. It is supposed to be below freezing later this week. I think all of the fire affected families are trying to hold back winter so that foundations can be laid and houses can be weathered in order for work to proceed during the winter. We hope fervently that we will be able to get our foundation in because it will be April before we can start if we don’t get started this fall.
Time is a relative concept. The fire that consumed our house at the end of June seems like a long way past. Spring seems like a million years from now if we are waiting to start our house. Fall seems frightfully short as we work to try to get the foundation in before the weather is too cold.
Fall is marching in double time and Spring is marching like we did when we were children, dawdling along taking forever. Somewhere between the double time of fall and the dawdling, languid curiosity of Spring, there is a foundation upon which to rest our house with a stove and a dishwasher that both work.