Tuesday, August 6, 2019

My Casa

My House!

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.


Friday, August 2, 2019

I had a Dream (Part 4 of Moving on)

I have appreciated the slow immersion into my new job. It’s not a new job at all, actually, it’s so similar to everything I’ve been doing for the last decade as to be almost boring, or unchallenging at times. But it’s a new organization, and after the dramatic cut from the last one, I have appreciated a lengthy, reflective ease-into this new world.

Yesterday I completed my first camping trip with this company. I was reminded how much I hate rain, and am afraid of lighting, but I put on a good confident face for the kids (while making some wagers with the weather gods). I also had a really good team—not as much fun as the French folks I endured a week of wicked weather with, but two solid female educators with a lengthy list of outdoor experience.

It’s strange starting over after giving so much. In 2012, I was trained on a new program that spoke to my soul. I silently vowed that I would work there for ten years, but I only made it seven. Over the years I jumped in all the way—giving my energy, ideas, sweat, and tears to an organization that gave me the feeling of home and the support of family. I really thought of my work there as a baby that I had helped grow. This year, I’m learning new traditions, new faces, new jokes—out of communication of any of my “family” that remain at the old organization, standing on the edge wondering how much I’m going to jump in. 
In the old world, I suppressed parts of myself, and pulled energy out of the parts that aligned with their ideals. This time, I'm giving that part of myself, but saving the other parts for different dreams. 

I went to sleep in a dry tent on a wet meadow. I almost didn’t need my sleeping pad because the ground was so soft from the grass. My tent-mate was a co-worker at the Ski Valley over the winter, who I never paid much attention to. I fell asleep grateful for the dry, warm, cozy home for the night, marveling at the strangeness of sharing a small space with a woman who only knew about me what I was able to share on a short drive in a van.

In the morning, as we awaited the sun drying the grass, a child’s side comment reminded me of a story that Jason Caballero told me at Magic Camp when I was 17, which sent in a flood of dream memories. I stopped, staring at the grass and let it all pour in.
It started with a stack of papers. A portfolio of resumes for future Executive directors for my old job. The top one was a familiar goofball who I couldn’t recall, but someone that made me think, “What a crazy option, he would do great”. With that settled, I somehow appeared at my job of watching children in a giant gymnasium (perhaps a strange hybrid of my personal training cert and educator responsibilities). I quickly noticed an open door which led to another gym that had a banner labeled CJ’s Gym and was a playscape of magical illusions for kids to interact with. CJ Johnson wasn’t running it, but Chris Walden was. Somehow I went and got Kent and he and I walked around talking about potential improvements to the place, until James Caldwell appeared.

Remembering the dream sent waves of comfort, nostalgia and humor through my body. I had a clear representation of what this dream represented—How much I’m pulling from Magic Camp, where I first gave my whole heart, and how I’m trying to move on from the last job, where my heart is lingering. This new place has a similar structure to my first job at Magic Camp—using CITs and Junior Counselors to do some of the relationship-building and game-playing and leaving the logistics and responsibilities to those with degrees. My foundation of taking care of people, and educating life skills to children with different needs in the framework of being a goofball all came from Magic Camp.
Then, I heard my dream telling me that I need to trust that changes to my old job will be made with their best interest. And to re-wire the “we’ out of my brain whenever I promote their programs. While I’ve been working hard to acheive different career goals since leaving that company in October, it’s been challenging for me emotionally. My baby has grown up and gone to college, and hasn’t so much as called home. 

Morning walk with the kiddos after a night of rain.

The trip wrapped up successfully. I tried to calculate how many tents I’ve set up and broken down. When I regained service I had a message from a leader of the old job, inviting me to have dinner and chat with the kids. Go figure—as soon as I decide to move on, I get a bridge back.
I’ve told a lot of people this, but, I’m glad I gave my twenties to travel, new friends, and building up programs and ideas. But now I’m ready to settle. This job seems like a promising place for me to settle into something sustainably, which just wouldn’t have been possible before. The path hasn’t always been straight and it certainly hasn’t always been easy, but I’m really grateful and satisfied with what I have now.