Yeah, still talking about the weather. It’s actually a pleasant night for January in the high desert. The wind isn’t blowing. It’s in the high twenties outside, it’ll get a lot colder before morning but that’s not so bad for two hours past sundown.
But what got me thinking was that I actually caught myself standing in shirtsleeves in the kitchen, making myself a mocha, without a care in the world. I was neither too cold nor fearfully waiting for the cabin to burst into flames. There wasn’t anything I was feeling rushed about, or guiltridden about, or anxious about. I wasn’t using up fuel too fast, or buried in four sweatshirts. The roof wasn’t going to fall in, nor the walls blow down, nor the pipes freeze and burst. I was just a guy – comfortably dressed – making coffee – listening to the stove rumble. In his own house, with nobody to make him fearful.
My goodness, it took a long time to get here. But you know what? While I’ve often doubted that I was ever going to achieve this particular level of domestic comfort, I’ve never once – in over nine years now – regretted having moved from Socal to this crazy place. I’ve been frozen and baked and frustrated and hurt and even frightened, a few times. I moved here with no cash, no land, no plan and at almost no point along the way did I ever know what the hell I was doing. I got astonishingly lucky with my friends – people invited me in who should have shooed me down the road, took what services I could offer and integrated them with their own plans, made me a part of their community when most people would have…shooed me down the road.
This was lunacy from the beginning. I was one of those people who, when all hell was breaking loose around me at home and work which only meant it was Tuesday, would tilt my chair back in my gray carpeted cubicle and wish for a quiet cabin in the wilderness away from all this shit. But I was never one of those people who could rationally – that is, with large infusions of cash – make some simulacrum of that happen. The only way I could ever have the tiniest hope of the kind of peace I’d always dreamed of was to jump off a cliff in that direction – and see what would happen. It wasn’t courage, it was desperation.
It shouldn’t have worked. I should have ended up hopelessly on the road, washing up who the hell knows where. But I actually found what I was looking for. I knew from the beginning, from the first time I ever visited, that this was supposed to be home. I had to find a way to make it work, no matter what. But I didn’t have the resources or the talents – all I had were some tenuous connections, and screwing up personal connections is my specialty. It’s the one thing I’m specially good at. It shouldn’t have worked.
But it did anyway. To the extent that this has anything at all to do with my qualities and not the kindness of others – it turns out that if you care about one thing to the exclusion of all others, if you’re willing to freeze and fry and pull a helluva lot of nails from salvaged lumber and deal with the results of all the mistakes, the burst pipes and the sizzling wires and the weevils in your flour and maybe an occasional propane fireball, you can muddle through. Maybe even to the point of a cup of mocha in your warm cabin on a frigid night, with not a care in the world.