#17: there is a light that never goes out

G. and I live in a log cabin in a small, small town with limited access to things I had previously grown quite we used to; we have developed a strange fascination with discovering “better” grocery stores, places with vegetarian options in the freezer aisles beyond that of the veggie burger; we talk of front doors and barn doors and laminate or wood flooring and paint colors and bathroom remodels and paying the electric bill and adding a deck or patio and turning the detached garage into a three season room, building an attached garage to the back of the house and we worry about money, about work, about the world around us turning into something we no longer can even pretend to comprehend; the log cabin sits up on a small hill, the gravel driveway winding up from the road, just after the small bridge over the shallow creek that acts as one of our property boundaries; we have deer and rabbits and feral cats and groundhogs and moles and frogs and god knows what else bedding down in our lawn, our marsh, our woods, our barn; there was never a time in my life, beyond the few months prior to this purchase, that I would have imagined myself in such a place, never would have pictured my adult life as one of planned extended trips to the grocery store, as one of being close to pretty much nothing, of having to take 4 hours to mow the yard, of having to wait for the Amish buggy to make its way across the intersection before I can go; the patience required to live here is one of faith–faith that the things you need will be at the places you can go, faith that the world is still accessible while it seems far off, faith that this patience is exactly what you need; there are days when I feel the barometer of Understanding enduring a free-fall drop in pressure, like the world itself has started to collapse in on itself and I’m watching the sky twist in fun mirror ways, as if G. and I are both too big and too small to take on the responsibilities of owning this house; there are days when all I can smell are cows and corn; there are days when getting on the highway reminds me of being young and declaring that driving at such speeds meant “we are going somewhere,” and now I know that “somewhere” has nothing to do with a place, that so much of driving is only an excuse to have a destination but that’s not right, more, like, that so much of driving is an exercise in accomplishing something even though the time in a car accomplishes little; there are days when I look at houses for sale from inside my car and wonder if the G. and I would be different if we had bought that one instead of our log cabin in a small, small town; how much can a house define one’s life and the home is where the heart is and does a house equal home or does home equal a house or is there a way for a log cabin to be so much more than this piece of property where we have staked our claim, in whatever fashion we are capable of staking such a claim or how much different are we, here, now, surrounded as we are by woods and water and grass and skinny roads than those people who ventured west at one time in history hoping to stake their claim to woods and water and grass; the log cabin sits up on the hill, facing the marsh, the garage, facing those strangely oversized steps down to the garage, a single story of home wherein the small tasks to finish never seem to end–the, I’m told, the life of a homeowner, an abridged cliche or unfinished, the life of a homeowner who cannot afford to have each problem fixed by somebody else, that’s what it really means; there are days when I wonder if what we are paying for is the credibility to announce ourselves as adults; there are days when the carpet needs replaced, when the stove and fridge and dishwasher and microwave don’t match and this matters so much, when the wallpaper can no longer be endured, when it seems like everything needs painted, when everything needs cleaned, when closets cannot hold their contents, when all that feels right to do is shuck off this mask of responsibility and bed down in the brush in the woods and wait for the cold to descend, wait for nature to reclaim that which I believed I had the right to stake out; there are days when the sun is all the cats and dog need to feel content; there are days when I can’t remember how long I’ve been driving, if the trip into town has been long or short or both or neither; once, I watched a porcupine waddle away from our backdoor, a drunk riding the undulations of the yard, and I realised that at some point he was going to die, and I felt bad that the world he knew was such hard walking terrain, like I owed him to level the area out, to remove swaths of yard, to bring in fine top soil and fine grass for him, to find a way to remove the hindrances to his drunkenness, to grant him the soft pillow of earth upon which to give up and rest; there are days when G. and I fight; there are many more days when G. and I laugh, there are days we slow dance in the kitchen, next to the rustic, barnwood-esque table, the mismatched appliances our audience, the dog doing his best to be a third dance partner, the song in my head, perhaps hummed, perhaps not; there are days when the sun doesn’t seem to exist and these are the hardest, when the clouds have weight and space and vacuum out the oxygen; there are probably way too many days when I ask myself, what the hell am I doing; there are probably not enough days when everything is in its proper place; there are days when I’m convinced the world owes me, some inexcusable narcissism to explain away laziness and fear; there are bookshelves in almost every room, holding not just books but records, movies, pictures, random knick-knacks that state who we are or wish to be seen as or who we understand ourselves to be; we have alphabetised everything because order is important, a vital declaration of how we see things, of their importance to us, important enough to take the time to organise their order; there are days when I feel like the log cabin thinks I am a stranger or a ghost haunting the man who wanders room to room–unless you build the house, though, aren’t you always a stranger or at the very least, a type of extended visitor or perhaps that is my entire problem with understanding this home; there are days the log cabin glows with sun and these are the best kind of days, the sun and the sky and sharp air, the blue stretched like an art panel; there are too many days when I can’t figure out where the time went, when did it become this month, this year, when did I become this man; there are days, actually every single day, when the dog runs in circles when somebody enters the house; there are days, actually every single day, when the cats yell at us; there are days, actually every single day, when there is some chore to start, to finish; there is every single day the waking up to G., seeing the world as a better place because she is in it, seeing the log cabin as the place we staked our claim to together, realising how much of becoming an adult is actually the act of loving someone other than yourself, recognising that the log cabin–up on the hill looking over the marsh and the garage and the gravel driveway, looking further over into the downtown of our small, small town, looking even further to the only real road in or out of our small town, looking further still to the next town over, the town where we work, shop, eat, the town we find ways to make ours, looking as far as we can to the ways we imagined our future being and never seeing this log cabin, never seeing this small town, never seeing the long drives to “better” grocery stores–is where we are, the home with neighbors who keep a “show” cow in their backyard, the home in a town with people who keep shetland ponies in their backyard, right next to the elementary school; there are days when all of this makes sense, just like there are days when daylilies make their comeback and the yard looks like it got a remodel; there are always days with room to grow and to dance with my wife.

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