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You’ll be happy to hear that our little tantrum-plagued Sadie is coming through the worst of it. She felt frustrated this morning and emptied two shelves of picture books onto the floor. But then she immediately sat down in the middle of the pile and spent a good half hour looking at them, page by page. If that’s the worst of what she’s got right now, we’re going to make it.

I woke up this morning with that thought ringing in my ears. “We’re going to make it.” It’s been one year to the day since we raised the frame on our Mountain Dream Home, and nearly five since Nick quit his job at Harvard University, which was the start of this whole mad adventure. That means five years since I’ve had a square four walls to call my home. Yesterday I was in town all day, catching up on some writing things, and when I came home the drywall was up and the floor was clean. It looked like a real house.

I felt really wonderful and then I sat down and had a good cry.

We said, in our half hour planning conversations that we have almost every day, that the walls would be closed in by the end of August. It did not seem like that was in the works. Ventilation, plumbing, the gas lines, all the electric work, the insulation. Well…it’s August 30, but it’s still August!!!! We’re going to make it.

I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wanted a life that we really lived, instead of going through the motions. But this moment when I’m really sure that we’re going to make it is also a good time to tell you that I am tired. I’m tired of unfinished things and late nights, and the crazy time. I’m tired of starting a big canning project at 5pm and finishing it by headlamp because I had to spend the whole day doing other things. I’m tired of all of us bumping into each other while we get dressed in the morning, and I’m tired of my little one not having her own bed, and I’m tired of my husband being as taut as a wire doing all this work himself, under pressure.

Nick has this thing he’s always telling the Internet, which is that he wants to work right up to the edge of what he’s capable of. He wants to test what he’s capable of, and always push those boundaries. Well…it’s romantic. It’s just as romantic as it sounds. But also I get to spend a lot of time right near the very end of my rope.

This is, ummm…good? I can’t really defend it. But I don’t regret it, either. I think this is just what life really is, if you can pull away all the dreck that keeps us confused and wandering. We can pretend to be comfortable and not stretched, but mostly that’s just pretending, because we have human souls and they’re always yearning for us to get taller and bolder and more and closer to everything we’re meant to be. We can ignore that — and all of us have tried — but we get grumpy.

There are those who say that you only experience your joy as much as you experience your sorrow. Joy and sorrow are kind of mixed together, really. They have the same physical body language. If you look at a figure kneeling, arms and chest thrown open, clutching their heart, you aren’t sure at first if they just won an Olympic gold medal or lost their deepest love.

These things are both true: I don’t mind that I work so hard. And I’m tired of working so hard. These things are both true, too: I’ve always known my husband could pull this off. And I’ve been carrying worry like a second coat.

But today is the day that I feel the rush of relief. The bank account is pretty empty, but we won’t go under. Our strength is used, but not quite overspent. The winter is coming, and the days are getting shorter. But the cold won’t catch us without a home to live in. My mother used to call this moment, “the light at the end of the tunnel.” When you’re still in it, but you can see the end, and before you’ve gotten close enough to see the very next obstacle. (Which is surely coming. But please, no need to call it down just yet.)

It’s not only me. It’s all around me, too. The stretched out, loose days of summer are getting tied up into the rhythm of our fall. My city friends are all rejoicing (in complex ways) that their kids are back in school. My own big kids are learning how to draw “Western birds” and insects from workbooks we picked up at the thrift store, feeling just like their city sisters focused and excited to learn new things. And Sadie? Well, she’s still three. But she’s going to make it.

I wish you all a glimpse of your own relief, even in all the emotional complexity of that. If you’re near the beginning of a push I wish you all the courage to believe it’s really possible. And if you’re right in the middle I wish you all the power of the heavens to keep on. And if you’re near the end, I wish you a sit down and a good, honest cry.

Love, from the yurt,
Esther
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