We continue to be a cluster of moving parts, drawing closer together each day, but still not connecting. We have electricity. A well. Our septic system is complete. Plumbing will go in soon- the final integrating step. We have cabinets but no countertop (yet). Appliances have been ordered, but cooking is an impossibility today. We rely upon cold meals or take-out from a small handful of local restaurants, each of which are becoming familiar with us and our all-too-predictable eating habits. I feel like I’m developing a reputation…
But the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is growing brighter by the day. Now as I glance around the cabin, I catch myself seeing shadows of what will be rather than what is. This morning I actually turned on the faucet of the bathroom sink, fully expecting to be greeted by a stream of water. (I should mention here that in my slightly impatient anticipation of the arrival of our plumber, I have set up the sink to appear as though the pipes are actually connected- I even adorned it with a bottle of hand soap and a display of our toothbrushes. The only thing missing- plumbing aside- is the physical manifestation of my aspirations for this tiny space. Believe me, if they were in any way tangible I would have splatter-painted them across the bathroom walls.)
The hardest part about construction is the state of dysfunction. We lived in this little cabin for more than a year with nothing- no electric, no well, no septic, no cabinets- but we could cook, clean, and stay warm. Now, in the presence of many of these luxuries, we are remarkably not self-sufficient. We are dependent. We used to have a shower (water was carried in, so it was an admittedly short, but always hot, shower). A Coleman camping stove served as our cooktop. In the process of seeking more, what little we had has been dismantled.
But this is ok. As the renovation of our little cabin nears completion, I feel more and more like a sellout crawling around in the infrequently-bathed skin of a hippie. I read about others who stumbled into their own versions of the cabin, and remained there for years. Even a lifetime. A haunt of what-ifs comes rushing down. Vultures preparing to feed.
Going through this renovation, I realize, is my last foreseeable opportunity to connect with the original reason I fell in love with the cabin. It keeps life hard. Maintains the few remaining threads that link me to the version of myself I discovered within the past year. The one who builds a fire when she is cold, and lights a candle when it is dark. Because her consciousness is required for such things as light and warmth, she places her heart into the mundane, and in doing so, finds the pulse. She is connected. Grounded. An albeit messy part of the whole, but still a living, breathing, inextricably integrated, component of some great rhythm.
The version of myself who sits with me now is decidedly disconnected. In limbo. Like the facade of a functional bathroom sink, any semblance of integration she presents crumbles away when you reach beyond the superficial. She fears the trade-off associated with simply turning a knob for hot water. Finds herself absentmindedly leaving lights on when she once marked time by the dripping of candle wax, the reduction of its wick. While I have to admit that I look forward to being able to shower on a whim in a way I never could have comprehended before this year, I worry that this will come at a cost. That the force of ease and comfort will drive me away from the heartbeat. The great rhythm will drum on without me.
I am going to have to find new ways to tune in- as I doubt the old avenues will continue to mark the way much longer. Even now, I can feel the path closing in. The connection fading. The pulse, when I am able to hear it, comes only in whispers. There are other noises now, and they muffle the sound.
But it will come. It will be a new adventure, like wandering toward a familiar summit from an unexplored approach. Perhaps I’ll even discover new perspectives along my way. But I must start at the beginning rather than pretending that I am already at the top simply because I’ve been there before. I must find water for the pipes before expecting the sink to serve its purpose, or I will simply be left with an appealing, yet inwardly empty, vanity.