I had the most glorious dream last night. It was simply delicious.
In my dream, I had just rented a bright, cheerful office space. I was nervous about renting it, but there were all these people who were really excited about my return to work, and it felt awesome. People who wanted me around! Work! A maintained office environment! A paycheck!
I woke up smiling. And my smile faded as I saw the mess that had been left out from the night before. Toys all over the place, dishes, food.
I am so over doing this.
That it’s mind-numbing, un-ending, grueling, thankless.
Nobody told me that my husband leaving the ketchup out could set me off – straw on the camel’s back – because I just can’t take One. More. Thing to put away.
Nobody told me that living off the grid would simultaneously heal me and threaten to crack me.
That my crushing depression would lighten from living out here, my bi-polar symptoms would even out and my PTSD would would only come with triggers, few and far between.
But. The isolation.
The isolation is intense.
I thought I knew a lot about isolation, just being deaf (perhaps the most isolating of disabilities?) and growing up in countries where I didn’t speak the languages.
But this is different. Being surrounded by trees is cream on the cupcake of life. But getting too deep in my own head because I’m the only adult I talk to, day in and out, makes me moo.
The outhouse, a symbol of my sanity, also makes me walk into people’s houses and get Toilet Envy.
‘ooooooooh, it flushes!’
The wasps in the outhouse, alligator lizards. The need to smooth shit over – literally. The open door and huge glass windows are gorgeous but with construction crews around, it makes me as self-conscious as I was in China.
That is, if I don’t organize, ask (plead? beg?), and figure it out, it will NOT happen. I’ll be stuck re-balancing sink support bricks for the rest of my life.
Nobody told me that my Grandma’s cat would try and pee, poop and puke on any bed she can get. All the time. Every day. Special points for the kid’s beds.
Nobody told me that animals require more work than I think I want to put in.
Nobody told me that it can all feel like a makeshift life, of being on one never-ending indoor (uncomfortable) camping trip. That it’s overwhelming. I was never the type who likes roughing things to begin with.
Nobody told me that starting a life in a rural community off the grid can feel like nothing is ever done. Not in that regular way of “oh, nothing ever gets done around here!”, not in the way that life – the never-ending adventure – is supposed to feel like.
Building a life in a yurt (or more accurately, round house) with a concrete floor, unfinished drywall and teetering make-do storage and insufficient furnishings feels ugly. It feels uncomfortable. It feels like too much. It feels sticky, itchy, messy, disorganized and always on the edge of breeding maggots.
Nobody told me there is a difference between a pleasurable “challenge”, as opposed to an insurmountable struggle; a hike up a shady hill instead of clamping up icy Everest with frostbite encroaching my fingers.
Nobody told me that kids would be so hard.
That raising little kids would make me cry with my feelings of failure.
And nobody told me that a million moments with them would make my heart explode with love.
Nobody told me that I would miss working in an office with people to talk to.
That I would miss office work! That I would sorely miss being valued by dint of my paycheck, if nothing else. That I would miss feeling accomplished, working through issues successfully. That I would miss the way that some people would look at me after I helped them and just beam, “thank you!”
And that I would miss dressing up and wearing nice shoes.
Nobody told me that I’d feel like I was slipping through opportunities, or would miss being able to apply myself to problems – if even only through writing. That posts, pitches, articles, applications, interviews, twitter chats would be missed because of the connected challenges of living where and how we do.
I suppose we could move to town. Town in and of itself presents a host of other, very different problems for me and my brain. So in moments like this, I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. A very beautiful rock and hard place.
With lots of wonderful work to dive into, problems to happily solve in a cheerful space with colleagues who share my own vision. Bright windows, well-maintained computer, office supplies, water wells, on-site toilets that flush and a coffee maker.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.