Seda designs and gets plans approved for a bedroom, office, and bathroom addition with a private entrance. We break ground together, but it is Trinidad who cannot rest.He is digging the footing for our new foundation as if it must be done within the week. His friends come to play, and he invites them to dig with him. They tire, and he offers them a break while he digs. I am touched and inspired by his driving will, and I learn to meditate while dumping tailings beside the pond, one breath at a time.
I run to Home Depot across town for just one more thing almost daily.Seda’s lists are well-intentioned but incomplete. At Lowe’s, the boys discover that plumbing elbows can be pressure fitted into elaborate weapons. It is rare that they can keep their new toys.
I discover that my Xtracycle can carry dimensional lumber if it is held away from the pedals by a pizza box on either side, and, lo and behold, there is a Little Caesar’s next to Home Depot! This maneuver is so gratifyingly efficient that I celebrate everything except what they put in those pizzas.
Beer proves to be a legitimate building expense in the absence of a paid contractor.
The boys pound nails and drill holes, but they are best at demolition.Seda, Ben, and I raise the walls together one Sunday after brunch. I love learning to build, but someone has to feed the crew, and I’m the most experienced hand.
Ben does a lot of the plumbing for the job and sweats countless copper joints aiming in all directions to power a sink and a two-person claw-foot tub.This tub and the composting toilet are the crowning glory of our new addition.
I grow starts for Ben’s winter garden at his request.I clear beds and plant almost a hundred baby greens. Ben says he doesn’t want to water. He’s over the honeymoon, over the mystique. He did just fine without watering before I came along. I tell him I’d rather have known his thoughts on this before I grew the plants for him and cleared the beds.His friend tells him, “Ben, water the plants.” Ben gets out the hose.
One night, in a state of particularly heated lovemaking, Ben and I set off the smoke alarm in his yurt. I would think it was a fluke if it hadn’t happened twice more the following year.“I’m afraid that our relationship is based on sex,” I tell him. He takes me in his arms and looks straight into my eyes. “No,” he says patiently.“Our relationship is based on really great sex.There’s a difference.”
Ben completes his student teaching in math and then becomes a substitute teacher.He sets his clock for midnight to check the website for jobs, responding to calls at three, four, and five o’clock in the morning. He mourns not having a classroom of his own and a regular schedule. I suffer when I see him so frustrated.
Sam tells me out of the blue that he’d like me to pack him a lunch so he could eat it somewhere else …like school.We spontaneously jump the waiting list and get the boys into an alternative public school in town where many of our low-income educated counterparts send their children. Sam begins first grade and Trin starts third.It’s a gentle transition from homeschooling, and the boys and I picnic and read aloud together under a tree after school before we bike home each day.
Inspired by Ben who rarely uses his vegetable oil powered car for anything, we rely more and more on our bicycles, revving up the biodiesel station wagon once a week or less for trips to the feed store or lumberyard.
In August, just before sunset, Ben finally gets the recumbent tandem bicycle working, and he hooks his six-foot long flatbed bike trailer to the end of it.
Ben pulls up to our house proudly and puts Seda behind him to pedal while the boys and I cuddle up on the flatbed. We cruise the park and then get ice cream cones a couple of miles away. In the evening light, our big family laughs and eats by a fountain at the university. Anything seems possible.