(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
isn't it funny how we many things we take for granted? things like heat and running water and lighting, etc.?
renovating any sort of house is fraught with inconvenience and renovating a centuries-old property only compounds them. I realize many people might think it silly ... but these inconveniences have helped to ground me in my new life.
the feeling of accomplishment and resilience in surviving while doing without ... and still finding ways to be content, happy even ... has been profound. my first days here in my home began on a pallet on the floor ... no real bedding, no lamps, no refrigeration. Thankfully (ever so thankful!) I did have running water complete with a toilet. as time progressed and seasons changed, the fact that no heat was here was another eye-opener. I'm no aesthete ... as I commented on another blog, my grandmother was an appliance, I don't wish to be one. but I also decided I didn't want to enslave myself in order to acquire any and all 'luxuries' available ... and work right straight through any opportunity to experience real life.
now that some conveniences are returning, one by one, they seem truly decadent. An example last night. About two months after I moved in, I received phone service. there was a phone line downstairs, in my foyer. there was no electricity in my foyer so an extra long extension line snaked into another room so I could plug in my phone and modem box. For months, this phone has had limited use because most of the people I would want to call are nine hours behind in time and so using the phone meant taking a flashlight down to the freezing foyer (no heat either) and standing shivering on the cold stone floor in the dark. Back to last night. I was on my cell to my friend Kathleen when it dawned on me. Yesterday, JY completed the hall lighting. The radiator in the foyer now worked. and I had a folding chair! Quelle luxe! I told Kathleen I'd ring her back, went downstairs, turned on the light, sat in the chair, dialed her up for free (with unlimited charges for US calls) and had a good long visit with my dear friend! in relative comfort (yes, the extension cord is still there and so is the dust and the unpainted walls and the unsanded moldings and there is no overhead light .... but STILL!)
The electricity is finished in my new kitchen. I can now press my 'interrupteur' (lightswitch) and illuminate the kitchen! this morning, I plugged the coffee grinder into the wall instead of walking over 2 rooms to the one outlet, unplugging the extension and plugging-in to grind my coffee beans) ((Riana, I know I could grind it by hand ... but remember my list! I'm not doing so badly!)). I can place some bread in my oven to toast if I so choose!
JY and I chatted about these things that so many people in the world do without and we mutter about. Like I just did above...oh the inhumanity of having to walk to another room to use an outlet! how out of touch am I? Millions in the world do without electricity. ever.
Another example of why I think my friend is so ... so ... well, get this. I had a little leak from a pipe in the 'cave' and he had placed a large bucket there. over the course of weeks, that little 'tique, tique, tique' had filled the bucket to the brim. The leak was repaired and a large bucket of water sat in my kitchen. I inquired about it and what I was to do with it ... the reply?
"Kim, water is expensive. very expensive. Use it to wash something ... your hands, the sponges. or water the dogs. or save it for the flowers you buy ...". Then we talked about the lack of clean water in so many parts of the world. and here, we just throw it away. Culturally, we are completely disconnected from vast swaths of the earth's population ...
Consciousness. maybe that's it. My consciousness is being reawakened. My house is still a humongous project. it will be ongoing and may never end. Most people would never want to live here and would think it dirty. or undone. or uncomfortably inconvenient. I know, and I understand. and yet ...
I'm thankful. Not only do I have the above luxuries. But the luxury of having somehow created this opportunity. The opportunity to live a different kind of life. a life as yet not entirely known and pretty much undefined.
This lap fits me to a tee.