“It’s beautiful up here. This is my dream: to buy a little piece of land in Worcester, put up a yurt, and raise my family,” she said. I smiled, allowing the romance of it all to stay in her mind. And why not? It is romantic, isn’t it–to live up here on this hillside, sheep and chickens grazing in the pasture, an acre of food growing in the garden, our family held each night in the circle of the yurt. It’s all so lovely. I say this to remind myself that we are here because it was our dream, too, though truthfully, the thought that shot through my head at her declaration was the ease of a house with running water, well-insulated walls, and hard-wired electricity. I pictured her turning on the faucet at night to make a bath for her son, then pictured myself hauling two 5-gallon buckets up the hill to the yurt, pouring water in a pot and waiting for it to heat up on the stove before pouring it again into the sink. This is why Waylon doesn’t get daily baths–I know the weight of water.
Just as I let her, I let myself dream up a romantic picture of life in town: living in a house with big windows and light streaming through in the morning, having a clean kitchen with matching dish clothes and bowls that don’t chip from being piled on the floor of the yurt when we’ve run out of water and can’t seem to find the time to run down and refill the buckets in the greenhouse, tight walls that hold warmth, doors that keep the wind outside instead of offering cracks for it to whistle in, a small garden just for the family, the ease of keeping the car parked and walking everywhere.
But then I think, what kind of job would I have to do to have that life? Where would the dogs run? What about the noise of traffic? I think about the weight of water, how I stop to rest a few times as I carry the jugs uphill, how those moments of rest are filled with breath and a view of the mountains. I think of Waylon and the amount of dirt he eats, and the strength of his immune system thanks to it. I think of the word easy and wonder what it really means, because I tried the life of 9:00-5:00 inside at a desk with a salary and benefits, and you know what? It didn’t make my life easier.
What’s easy is to romanticize what we don’t have.
It’s worth remembering that we are here because we chose it. We are here because we strive to create a life of balance, substance, and joy. It’s worth remembering that the most challenging times are also the pivotal ones that determine our path. It’s also worth remembering that there is actually nothing stopping me from having matching dish clothes.
I let my town-living daydream drift off in the wind and come back to this life in our yurt, with unfinished projects and sheep that escape their fence and 50 families to grow food for. I come back to it because it brings me alive. After all, romance is not always easy or without conflict, but it is nourishing. And though she drove back to her home in town, to our visitor, and to you all, I say this:
Choose your path, and live your romantic life.