Bend in the Snow

I took the day off to drive Elsa into Bend to get her braces on. Somewhere in the drive over or in the drive back, I had a “moment.”

I’ve thought and talked a lot about “letting the house go.” When Paul mentions it, I agree with him. I stick my bottom lip out and nod my head as if to say, of course, this is a fact that could be in our future. When I talk to people, I shrug nonchalantly as I say, “We may lose the house,” and twist my mouth to the side to show that it’s a bitter point that I’ve accepted.

But I haven’t accepted it.

Deep down inside I haven’t really let the house go. In my heart of hearts, I hope a miracle will occur, I hope a rescue will come, I hope a breakthrough will happen.

It’s really hard for me to feel that we’ve wasted our 30s on planning for and building and working to pay for this house. I spent hours of my time going over the plans again and again. Paul and I drew the plans from scratch. We read books on housing design. We drew and scrapped it, drew and scrapped it, drew and scrapped it. We put so much of ourselves into it — big closets for four teenage girls. An extra large bathroom for four teenage girls. A mud room for four girls. A work bench in the garage for Paul to tinker. A big back deck for hosting. The kids downstairs for hosting. Warm inviting logs and tiles for hosting. We’ve done a lot of hosting.

I love my dishwasher, my washer, my dryer, my fridge, my stove, my sink, my bar, my kitchen. I love the space upstairs where I write.

We didn’t just design this house. We all sacrificed seeing Paul for two years while Paul built it. He didn’t just make calls and set up crews. He built it. He was there at every step of the project. We’d bring him dinner, we’d picnic in our unfinished house just to spend time with him.

I helped stack the logs, grouted the floors, assembled the cabinetry, assembled the closets, painted the closets, painted the trim. 

Family and friends came to help us. My dad helped with logs. My mom painted and watched kids. My grandparents helped with the cabinets and windows. Elida and Randy did our basement floor. Jason and Bud helped lift and hold and nail and screw things tight. Robin watched our kids, brought us food. Paul’s parents pitched in, Anne too. Other friends came and helped, stopped in, encouraged us, brought us a beer or a bite to eat.

It was a community labor of love.

It took us two years to plan. It took us two years to build. We’ve been scrambling to keep it for over three years. Seven years of our life lost to this house we’re going to have to let go.

And we pictured it a thousand times in its pristine perfection. It was such a culmination, a love affair, of all our hopes for what we wanted for our family.

I don’t like defeat. I’m really, really stubborn.

So even though I’ve been nodding, brows furrowed, looking like all the media pictures of Obama, like I’m really taking this seriously, all this time, I’ve been in complete denial.

Something’s going to happen, something good is going to come, I’ll just get through this month, I’ll just get through today, I’ll think about it tomorrow, I’ll camp here til they change the locks, I’ll fight to the bitter end, I’ll hole up in the garage with my pellet gun cocked and ready — no one is going to take the house.

In the orthodontist’s office I looked at houses for rent. They go for half as much as our mortgage.

But they aren’t our house.

I looked at a little condo in Bend and remembered when Paul and I looked at a condo before we ever built.

Why didn’t we just choose it then if we’re going to end up there now?

Why’d we have to go through all that … for nothing?

I remember having this pressing feeling — gain your freedom. That’s what I kept hearing over and over — gain your freedom. I thought it meant that we were supposed to get financial freedom. I thought we’d get it by building a great house that would absorb our school debt.

We’re more slaves than we’ve ever been.

But this “moment” wasn’t a grieving process like you might think it is. I didn’t cry or mourn. I didn’t even whine. This moment came as a complete surprise. All of what I just wrote is background. I’m just giving you the lay of the land.  

The moment was .. I just let it go.

I don’t know how or why I did it — I don’t know why I couldn’t do it before.

It was a gift, I guess.

All of that effort was needed. I just don’t know the reason yet.

I remember a story about my grandpa learning to splice just because he wanted to learn how to do it. That’s so like him. Anyway, I can’t remember the details of the story, but he proudly told me it was absolutely vital later.

Maybe the whole house ordeal will be vital later on.

All I know is that I’m thankful I’ve let it go or that it let go of me.

I feel … free.

Paul always has had a longing for Bend in the snow. Prineville was never where he wanted to be. We just parked there because it was closer to his job.

His job’s not there anymore.

Whether Bend in the snow has a literal or figurative interpretation, maybe cutting loose of the house is the last rope that tethers us to Prineville. Maybe it was me that was holding us there all of the time.

Bend in the snow, here we come.


1 Comment

  1. I think it is important to see that whatever happens, you both have always given your best and continue to give your best. The labor of love in building it doesn’t diminish if you aren’t living in it. And the planning, and the building, the years are not lost nor wasted if you leave it. They have been wonderful years. And wherever you go, there you will be, the food and drink will be delish, the conversation lively and relevant, the laughter continously ringing out, whether it is Bend in the Snow or Patagonia…there will be clogs, cast iron, and bacon fat! Oh, and cappucino.


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