Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trimming the Garden - Making Space to Grow

I spent a good portion of my academic career mulling over the roles man insists on playing with the world. It was first codified sophomore year by Mrs. DeGroat as Transcendentalism... Thoreau and the gang. I was excited by the notion that there was a binding energy within all things. That everything was "connected."
I think it was a fruitful concept for a lonely and ambitious adolescent. I spent the next few years dancing around the implications of Transcendentalism, soon to become Pantheism.
My peers and most elders now call me a man.
I no longer question my will to express, much like I am doing here.
I have accepted the blank stares and stiff silence of those that do not understand.
Because I have been loved by both sexes for my thoughts and actions. I have a circle that has shown me that it expects me to continue to keep going.
That is how I know that what was once a comfort, is still a comfort, but for a different reason that does not diminish its validity.

What do I mean?

Kaitlin and I are closing in on our fourth week in Kershaw County. We left the brutal summer behind last week in finishing the sapling extractions and pine straw laying.
Last weekend we had a get together to celebrate changes. Kristen will leave for the University of Frankfurt at the end of September, Kaitlin and I will leave for Colorado September 2nd, and I turned twenty-three.

Friends and family that have known and loved us from all points in our life were present. I will one day think of a new cliche for the, "this is not good bye, merely 'until next time'" but it is a fitting sentiment. I am happy that we have handled this transition in this way. Heart open, arms wide, with smiles.

I remarked to Kaitlin the other night that these moments are the reward for living boldly. A year ago we hinted timidly at our wildest dreams for our lives after graduation. So far, we're on track. A week from now, we'll set out on the next phase of that vision. Each day is another vote of confidence. Each evening by the fire, reflecting on our decision, we are bolstered. As dearly as we love our friends and family, the sky is dark here - we are isolated and happy.

Between the two of us and roasting sassafras we are both bare under the night and full of our loved ones. I hope that is enough to get us through anything. I hope that is the minimum we require. We do love everything else, but if that is all we get - we'll be okay.

Less than a week from now, we'll hit the road for Colorado - where aspen and fly fishing await.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's just past two o'clock. The midday sun is on the decline and that means only about an hour before Kaitlin and I get back to the grind. No more hocking hummus and pita bread. No more refills, no more sidework, no more unreliable coworkers. It's just us.

We successfully made the "move" from Columbia to Lugoff. I say "move" because ten days later and we are still living out of our bags. We actually moved into my Sity's former home in Camden. Due to a bunch of technical mumbo-jumbo my parents were not able to settle the estate before we arrived (two days after in fact) - so thus, they were unable to move out of the house in Lugoff.

It hasn't been all bad. We have long been accustomed to the absence of internet and television, and better for it! We spent the first week getting organized, reading, sitting in the breakfast nook watching the day evaporate the morning fog. This is the life!

Then the work began. The process has been less than organized. We have been frustrated by the parochial way of making appointments - which is not to keep them. The plumbers, the carpet guy, the cable guy, people offering to pick up linens as donations, all have reneged on previously agreed appointments - some on multiple occasions. The sum has been a haphazard smattering of odd jobs that "need" to be done, but are not the top priority.

As I speak the carpet in the den is being stretched, enabling furniture from the house in Lugoff to be moved here. The plumbers are digging a new line to the sewer. Things are happening, but in the ten days that it has taken to get people out here to do work - we have been forced to scrounge for productivity.

We've been outside mostly. I recall Kaitlin's defeat almost two months ago, "Jack, I'" - Welcome to the Southland. But even I, who have been acclimated to this place over the last twenty-one years am struggling with the last few days. Moving furniture and reclaiming a wild lawn through triple digit heat over consecutive days has left us both depleted. And we've only just begun..

There is enough yard work and painting yet to be done outside that could last us well through the month. We've only recently become organized enough to work in the morning and evening (as we originally intended) - hopefully this will allow us to retain our endurance.


In the downtime we have signed up for WWOOF. We received our list of farms in Chile and have mapped them out using GoogleMaps - so now we will read the descriptions and decide where we'll try to end up.

The trip is still months away though. I am very anxious for the last week in South Carolina when I can spend some quality time with my family. And then September 2nd when we begin our two weeks on the road. It will be another step closer. Another destination.


Meanwhile, it is still the beginning of August and it is still getting hotter. The next ten days will be the real test. How long can we hold out before we start falling apart, whether it be physically, or emotionally, or both? I think we can do it. I am happy to be exhausted, to suffer blood blisters, and punctures from tools and shrubs. To be drenched in sweat before eleven in the morning. To see such a change come over the places that have always been so familiar to me. It is valuable work. There is real progress. We must be sure to step back in our exhaustion, to put our hands on our hips, and look at what we have done. This will remind us that our efforts are put to use and that we have more to give, more to create.

I always want to be able to do this. Whether it is to help raise a barn in Chile or to nudge an adolescent out of the nest onto the passionate winds of literature and sport. To experience motion in things.