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.

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