All The Stories in a Day

28 08 2015

Last night I couldn’t sleep. The realization that we have no concrete plan for moving in 18 days from now settled in just as I was trying to doze off.  The contractors are hired and have a start date, but we have yet to set a meeting date to hammer out the plan of attack.  Monday they will knock out the cracked and separating fireplace, repair the wall and install windows.  This doesn’t help much, but it’s a start.

I had come up to the house yesterday to do SOMETHING.  I have this immense (and completely rational) need to feel as though something is happening to, for or at the house every day. I arrived in just enough time to grab the sledge hammer, demolish the bannister, throw the pieces over the deck to the road below, cart them one by one across the road to the debris pile, then get back in the car to drive home and pick up Kaherdin from school at 1:30.

Today I was feeling more ambitious.  My plan was to pick up a trailer at U-Haul in Mountain View, pull it to Concord to the place where we bought our Polaris, then haul the Polaris to the house in enough time to unfasten the tie downs, back it off the trailer then come in the house to do some more demolition work.

The thing about demolition is that it’s a fun way to get out aggression, it’s easy, and it’s something I really don’t feel a need to pay someone anywhere from $45-$75/hr to do.

I left the house at 9 a.m. and arrived at U-Haul to find them understaffed and quite busy. The two dudes working the counter were diligent, but their attention was being pulled in every direction. I waited patiently (first in the cue) for quite a while before I became antsy.  My mind had settled on an expected pace for the day and already, at 9:30, I was falling behind. I spun around, just for a change of scenery and a millenial got up from his chair and smiled at me.

“You going to Burning Man?”

I was flattered that he asked.  “No, not this year.”  Of course, I’ve never been.  Thought about it in the 90’s, pre marriage and kids, but just never got there.  Now I’m not so sure it’s my thing.

Soon enough a young guy, Cass, greeted me. He was in his twenties, had reddish blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. He wasn’t conventionally good-looking and came across much in the way you would expect someone who worked at U-Haul to come across — simple, to the point, not a whole lot going on.  He was friendly though. Even when a trucker came down on him for the slow service this morning all he said was, “All I can do is take one step at a time.  You are my customer, and you deserve my full attention.”

“That is one reason why we’re leaving the area.  Everyone’s so stressed out.”

He smiled and said, “You know, I went up to Oregon and lived with my aunt for three months. I was like, yeah, slower pace, nature, but when I was up there I thought I was so bored.  Then I came back and I realized how quickly time flies when you’re in the thick of things.”

I backed my car up to the trailer, he hitched it on then began looking for the lights, but could not find the connection. Rather than rip the Q7 apart looking for them, I opted to drive over to Terman and get the van from Danae.  With all our shuffling of stuff and kids, she has ended up with the van and the A3 at school. We had a hitch and light connectors installed for our trip to Yellowstone when we towed the camping trailer, so I knew it would work.

Back at U-Haul I wait in line again and, once again, it is Cass that comes available to help me. He pulls up my contract and I say, “You know what you said about time going faster here? How you thought you were bored with a slower pace in Oregon, but then realized it may be more of what you need?”

He nodded.

“I was thinking about how absolutely necessary that initial sense of boredom is in the transformation.  It’s withdrawal. But, once you get through it, your life becomes deeper, more meaningful.”

He stopped clicking the keys on his computer. “Yeah, it’s like here, everyone is on their hamster wheel.  It’s all about making money, paying bills, getting ahead.  When things slow down you just have time…to think.”

I told him how we’d been hit by motorcycle riders two days in a row.  The first one, on highway 17, split lanes and broke my side mirror before speeding off. The second one side swiped Danae while splitting lanes.  She caught up to him at a red light and said, “Hey, you hit my car!”  He came back with, “No I didn’t.  The only thing I hit was your ego!”

Cass leaned back laughing at that, then leaned forward burying his face in his knees.  “No he didn’t!!!! What a douche!”

“Yes he did.  Like he was so awesome that she was going after him out of jealousy.”

Cass paused. “You know, a couple of years ago I was a total douche. That guy will get it one day.  Maybe later than everyone else, but he’ll get it.  Everyone else will have matured and moved on in life, and he’ll still be acting ‘cool’. Maybe then he’ll look around himself and decide to change.”

We walked out to the trailer. Someone left a brown paper bag of groceries at the door.  “Is that yours?” Cass asked.

“No,” I said.

“Aw, I was thinking you brought a six pack!”

“I wish!”

“Really?  What’s your favorite?”

“Hard cider right now.  I’ve been doing a lot of demolition at the new house.  I like to unwind at the end of a day of smashing things.”

“Oh, yes!” He says and puts an arm on my arm. He hooks up the trailer and I am on my way.

I begin the slow drive to Concord.  Taking delivery of the Polaris is relatively painless. I get the operation tutorial, fill out minimal paperwork and write the check.  They load it up on the trailer and I am on my way.  It is 1:30 now, so I know I will not beat Danae and the kids to the house by much. No demo today.

I get to the house after three then wonder how I’m going to get the vehicle off the trailer.  There is no ramp.  But this is a Polaris. I un-do the tie downs then fashion two ramps from scrap wood and hope for the best. I have visions of punching the gas while in reverse and Danae and the kids arriving an hour later only to find me toppled over and flattened at the bottom of the creek bed.

It goes fine.  The Polaris is made to traverse boulders and logs, crazy ass terrain, it can bump over a 7 inch drop from a trailer hatch.

I drive the Polaris up the steep dirt driveway to the garage, then walk back down toward the van.  A truck approaches.  I remember that John, whom we met just two nights before, told us about someone who worked for a solar company, this is the truck.  The man slows down when he sees me and rolls down his window.

“Hi, are you the new owner?”

“Yes,” I say and extend my hand.

His name is Chris.  He and his wife, live a half mile up the hill with their three kids and his wife’s sister and her two kids.  The kids all range from 16 down to 3.  Chris is thrilled to learn that we are bringing children to the road.  They’ve been here the better part of ten years and there have been no other children.  I suggest we form a gang.  He is enthusiastic.  We exchange business cards.

“Faerie Goatmother?”

“I have a goat milk soap company,” I tell him.  “We have goats.”

His face lights up.  His middle daughter wants to learn about goats.  He and his wife home school their children. He tells me about all of the wonderful homeschooling coops in the area — places where the kids can take enrichment courses such as wilderness survival or academic courses that maybe aren’t the stay-at-home parent’s forte.

“She can totally hang with me,” I say, and offer that if she wants to learn to milk, we sometimes are in need of house sitters.  He lets me know that there is also an 18 year old girl on the road that babysits.

His sister-in-law’s children split time between their mother and father.  The father lives in Ben Lomond, but closer to town.  He says when they are on Love Creek they complain about being bored because, you know, they are in the forest? He gestures, like look at all they have.  I laugh and tell him we are moving our kids here to get them out of the rat race — a slower pace, time to slow down, fewer scheduled courses and activities and more time to form deep relationships.  He nods.

He tells me that he is one of the men that helps maintain the road, that they are waiting for first rain before getting started on this season’s repairs. He says he and his wife are the youngest people on Love Creek.  He looks to be in his mid to late thirties, so maybe we’re not too far off, age-wise, from them.

He asks when we’ll be living here full time.  I tell him we’ll move in mid-month, but that there is a lot of work to do. He shares that he and his wife lived in yurts on their property for eight years before he renovated an old cabin on the property, now they live there. He tells me of mountain lion encounters in the area. I let him know we plan on having the goats completely enclosed with a wire ceiling.  He says he things that will be good enough.

“We’re going to have to have you guys over for dinner,” he says.

“We would LOVE that,” I say. “You don’t know how excited we are to have neighbors.”  And it’s funny, because we live in such close proximity to people now, but everyone is too busy to slow down and say hello. They are coming or going, or simply just not interested in making a connection.

I unload my stuff from the van and soon enough Danae and the kids pull up. Kaherdin says, “I want the first ride in the Polaris!” We all pile in and take it down Love Creek Road to our logging road (which we ought to name — Faeriewood Drive?). I put it in low gear and we are off, chugging up that hill of forest floor, rocks and branches.  We reach our sunny hilltop and turn off the engine. K says, “Hey, that’s an apple tree!” He points to a tree that I had thought was an apple tree, but this time of year should be heavy with fruit.  It isn’t.  Instead the trunk has a fungus. I’ve seen this on our apple tree. The one we planted for Gwen to commemorate her birth. It is now mostly dead, just in time for our leaving.  Danae and I had already decided to cut this tree at the new house down.

“How do you know,” I ask Kaherdin?

“Because there’s an apple!”

We all look up, and there, at the top of the tree, is a lone apple, healthy and ripe, a small indication of all the fruit we have yet to reap from our new home.




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