When Life Burns to the Ground

I have been asked why I bought such an old camper. The reason is this: It’s nothing that cannot be taken apart and rebuilt into something better. It has a Mopar motor, which I know how to work on, and it’s old enough that I can find parts for it almost anywhere for next to nothing. But there’s something else….

Remember when Henry David Thoreau went to Walden to learn how to live? When life burns down, that’s really all you can do; learn to live again.

I got hired for a job working on an organic dairy in Tennessee. I’ll be milking and pasturing a herd of Brown Swiss cattle come next weekend. I’m almost afraid to say anything about it because it seems like every good thing in my life somehow goes to shit the more earnestly I want it. Nothing I love or long for is ever easy.

A micro-poly farm is a lifelong dream of mine, and this seems like the first good step forward since my husband left. I’m moving to the area where we had talked about retiring to in another twenty or thirty years by myself. I’m at a point where I think that waiting for “when” and “if” is silly, and maybe even counterproductive. I want to live in this camper, rebuild it, make it more efficient, make it a home, make soap, grow herbs, keep goats, and find a new life amongst the ashes of the old. Maybe in the process I will become a wife worth having…a lover worth missing. And, if I don’t, at least I will have spent my time wisely.

I bought a camper so old because there was nothing else. When your life burns to the ground, you find shelter where you can, and begin again. That’s what I’m doing.

…Tomorrow, after Sunday Mass with my friends Michelle and Father Erik at St. James the Greater Church in Ogden, Utah, I will begin the long drive to Tennessee and, GOD help me, if nothing goes wrong, I will arrive in Knox County Wednesday evening and begin looking for roses amongst the ashes.

I hope that this is the right thing.

A “New” Turtle Shell

Today I paid a thousand dollars for a 1976 Dodge Bougham motor home from a young park ranger in Huntsville, Utah, and walked away with a dream. One more thing I can cross off of my bucket list.

Tomorrow, it goes to the shop to get the vacuum seals replaced, and then I can get it passed for emissions. Yes, it’s a piece of crap, but it’s my piece of crap, and I can’t wait to start making it my own.

It’s a bittersweet acquisition, given that it’s a dream that my husband and I share, and he has chosen not to be here with me. But it’s also kind of poetic; the motor home is the same age that he is, and I get to rip its guts out and rebuild it into something new, without judgment. All of the disappointment, hurt and anger welling up within me can be poured into creating a new “home” within the shell of the old.

It’s a good project for me. No rent, no house payments, no major bills but gas, oil changes and new tires.

I think I’m going to gypsify it. And it needs a name. It seriously needs a name. I’ll make a short video of it tomorrow,  and we’ll come up with a name. And maybe some new dreams.

In the meanwhile, I’m kind of distracted from the idea of killing myself today. It’s a good thing.

The Wedding Anniversary That Wasn’t

Today, August 3rd, was my wedding anniversary, and I spent it without my husband.

Other wives spend anniversaries alone because their husbands have gone to war, or are stuck on business in a far off city, longing to return home. I have no idea where my husband is, or if he will ever come back to me.

I spent my anniversary alone today because two weeks ago Sunday, my husband left me. No warning, no discussion, not even a fight. Just an email telling me that he was leaving, and one last “I love you.”

I have spent the past two weeks vascillating between tears, and sleepless, nauseating numbness, trying to discern how he thinks deserting me is loving. The day he left, I died inside, and then I fled. I just left everything. Nothing matters without him.

I understand how someone can die of a broken heart. I most definitely want to die. I have considered it at length. I have made plans that would make others cringe. But right now, in my heart of hearts, it’s an option. A good option. Living in the wake of being abandoned by the one person you trusted more than anyone else on earth is unbearably painful–like having a heavy, hot stone inside your chest that cannot be moved. It’s exhausting, and surreal, and leaves you with a sense of loneliness that cannot be described in any meaningful way. It has definitely made me question my faith, my purpose, my willingness to exist.

I spent my wedding anniversary alone today, and I want to die.

I love him so much, it has destroyed me.