past the point of no return...
The irony is not lost on me: we wanted to live simply, so we almost unimaginably complicated our lives. We wanted to save money, so we dumped our entire life savings into building something that financially snowballed out of control until we had nothing left but blood to give. We wanted to spend more time with our little one and with each other, so we devoted nearly every waking moment to executing an endeavor which sometimes made us feel like visionaries, and other times made (makes?!) us feel totally and completely delusional. We wanted to live a life full of adventure together, and one of us had a life-threatening accident mid-build. The process has been a slow and painful death, and a beautiful rebirth. It has torn us to pieces, and drawn us together. It has exposed the worst in us, and drawn out strengths we never dreamed we possessed.
Our story is a comedy, for sure, albeit a bit of a comedy of errors — and along the way, there’ve been tragedies among the victories, but such is life. These last four months have really been on the up and up, and most of that time was actually spent tiny-less... or rather tiny-er. After six weeks of serious progress on the house, we moved back into our VW camper van and headed north to our native Seattle (or rather, my native Seattle — my woodsman grew up amongst the ruins of an old hippie commune out in North Cascade Mountains til he moved to the big city for college). We spent half our time in Seattle, and half our time in Marblemount, and it was glorious, though incredibly busy. We were shocked to be so happy and comfortable back in our van-home, as little Moses calls it. In fact, since returning to Redding nearly a week ago, we still haven’t moved back in to the tiny. Even though Moses has started school, we are still camping out in the van, with the top popped and the back hatch opened wide. I feel safer there... I don’t look around and see a mountain of work which denies me rest.
I realized tonight during a rare ten minutes of solitude (translation: I was alone in the car running an errand ALL BY MYSELF!) that I feel conflicted and betrayed because somewhere deep down, despite what I professed, I actually expected the tiny life to be glamorous. And as I was just writing the above, a tiny frog sitting (unbeknownst to me) upon the banjo hanging on the living room wall behind me jumped ever so gracefully over my head and onto my computer screen, thus illustrating my point perfectly. Gross. (In case you're wondering, that was our first frog incident.)
Apparently I thought we'd finish the tiny in a matter of months (ahead of schedule, probably) and I’d have nothing left to do with myself other than lounge around and read classic tales to my boy and take long naps in the afternoon sun and write beautiful songs that pierce the soul and brew giant vats of soup with homemade egg noodles and way too much garlic. I thought living tiny would be as glamorous in actuality as it is when I'm talking about it with someone who hasn’t actually SEEN the tiny. I thought our tiny house pictures would wow the world, like the tiny photos that wowed us and wooed us and called us to come with the promise of freedom and the hope of simplicity and the assurance of rest (back before we knew any better). I thought our story would have an exceedingly happy ending.
But as far as the build goes, our story has yet to end. We’re still stuck in the messy middle where neither of us is entirely certain as to whether our nemesis (the tiny, in case I’ve lost you already) is going to get the better of us, or whether justice will prevail and good will conquer evil and everybody will live happily ever after. For now, it feels a lot like camping for way too long (think years!) with way too much stuff but somehow not everything we actually need. Or perhaps it's more like backpacking through Europe — not homeless but without a true sense of all that home has to offer over and above the mere technicalities of a house. And then you go home and look at all your lovely photos and you’re like, “that was AMAZING!” and all too quickly forget how exhausting it was, and what a headache it is to constantly be trying to figure out what to do, and when to do it, and how to do it — not to mention just meeting all of you basic needs (which is very important, if you're a creature of habit like me).
There are times when the road we are traveling is so long I cannot conceive of how I can possibly even THINK of carrying on. There are times when the night becomes so dark and I feel so lost and so alone (despite the fact that there are two very warm bodies ever within arms reach), and I find myself blindly groping around for any sign of hope, any sense of order, any inch of uninhabited space. There are times when the hot air becomes so stifling I can scarcely breathe and the mountains of our stuff are on the verge of exploding, as am I, like tiny volcanoes. And that time is ten o’clock, and this week it has hit me every night, night after night, like an endless procession of waves: trying to knock me down, trying to toss me about, trying to drown me in sorrows, and successfully bringing me to my knees... which is a good thing.
There was a time, not so many years ago, when I would have simply resorted to drinking myself to death, one night at a time. I am grateful those days are no more, and that the very remembrance of it surprises me: when I remember that I have forgotten to even remember! But now, I lay my head down on the pillow and I cry out to God and the tears fall and I speak the truth instead of agree with the lies and my faith rises and I know that, like last night, I will manage to fall asleep and somehow when I wake, we will begin again and He will give me enough for the day — enough hope that the Lord will provide the money we need though the deadline looms large, enough faith that I'm touching the heart and moving the hand of God when I pray for the ones I love who are hurting so hard, and enough courage to endure another day of our less than glamorous little life.
We envisioned the finished product and the happy life we'd live within, and we had vague ideas about the work it would take to get us from here to there, but the truth is: we had no idea. It’s like getting married, like belonging to someone other than just yourself, like giving birth. You think you know, but until that baby’s coming out and there’s no stopping it, I promise you: you don’t know jack. Thankfully, love is blind, and dreamers dive in deep... past the point of no return, if they're doing it right. For now, I may have to shower out in the yard with the hose, hopefully after the water within has been well warmed by the sun, but someday that leak in the two-headed shower we built WILL get fixed and we WILL be able to shower indoors again... together... forever.
So as ten o'clock comes round, I face it: the harsh realities of this tiny life. Nothing in our life is by the book, and there are moments, such as today, when I miss the comfort and stability of the life we once lived — but I will never turn back, though nothing we are called to and have purposed in our hearts to do is even possible apart from God showing up.
It’s not like the shows. It’s not quick, it’s not cheap, and it’s not easy. And whatever YOUR it is, it IS worth the journey — should you have the courage and character to embrace the pain and the great unknown, and allow it to utterly transform you. There is beauty in the process, however long or intense the delivery may prove to be...