When I was young I was sure that if I ever got my own place it would have to be new, even though my sustainably-minded subconscious knew that an existing structure would be better. Although I enjoy sleeping in the dirt and picking up bugs, living amongst someone else’s grime really grosses me out. Nevertheless, we have spent the last two months negotiating to purchase the house we are renting. It’s sort of a peculiar situation. The current owners manage many properties and this one is becoming too much for them to manage from afar. It certainly has more value to tenants like us who use the land and the creek. Truth be told, I freaking love this place. Since I was 18 I have moved over twenty times, in and out of dorm rooms and “housing+stipend” residences. I have boasted before about the freedom of living and caretaking others’ spaces, including not buying my own toilet paper, and not having to commit to a place. I have lived in five different states in four different time zones and stayed in a hundred different houses and from all that experience, I can happily say that this place is delightfully “me”. Well, Us.
The isolation and privacy from the canyon appeals to my post-apocalytpic-prepper needs. The Hispanic culture pervasive in the area makes me feel foreign and not entitled to the space, which encourages me to work hard to get to know and become part of the community. This is really an outdoor mecca with hundreds of trails within twenty minutes of my house, including a full forest that I feel I have all to myself at the end of the street I live on—a ten minute bumpy ride away. This climate is an ideal escape from the inescapable realities to come in conjunction with our rapidly changing climate. I just hope I can document all the existing flora before they burn out or begin their slow migration.
The house itself is a little rough. It has all the grime of years of month-to-month rentals with dogs and children that absolutely grosses me out if I think about it. But it’s mine. A blank slate I can apply whatever colors of paint I want to upon. A one minute walk from my door on a rough day will put me at the most peaceful acequia—a babbling little brook among juniper, pine and willow. A six minute stomp through the snow or the high grasses (depending upon the time of year) puts me at my own river, running right through the property, with a perfectly flat meadow on the other side. A hill beyond that runs up to the road, where talk of one day installing a zipline has been the most commonly-agreed upon update for us to prioritize. (Maybe we'll wait til the house is paid off).
Just as much as I am keen to the space and all the opportunity and challenges it presents… I am just as excited and frustrated at the opportunity to “own” my own space, wherever it is. Of course, the duty of signing an immense amount of your current and future income away is daunting, but what I found more troubling was the idea of purchasing space in the first place. An untimely encounter with an intoxicated individual from the Taos Pueblo put into perspective my right to be on this land at all. Through a strange sequence of open valleys, land acquisitions, land grants, lost bets, and idealistic commandeering with some hippie's parent's money, now I am the US Government-recognized owner of this small section of land, divided by some simple pokey, vertical metal lines. A series of documentations will further propel this to someone else’s hands some day, but in the meantime, it’s my square of Earth to steward and share without needing permissions, and I’m damn ready for that.