In late December and into January, while I waited for the soil to
thaw and my special-order mutant Native plants to arrive, I studied up on Mountain Beaver control (this creature, which eats a few hundred dollars a year’s worth of plants in my clearing, costs the timber industry over $350,000,000 annually in damage to seedlings, tree farms, and restoration plantings. There is no shortage of reading on this subject). Why add another couple thousand dollars worth of plants if the plants will only become forage and nest? Culling and co-opting the best of Mountain Beaver strategy from the industrial/governmental forestry complex, I
planned great changes for my Mountain Beavers: a change of Spiritual Plane.
I made plans and drawings for more and greater changes to the property. I tidied up an area just beyond the clearing for a treehouse. I moved a couple giant rocks into featured locations. I sketched a small lean-to shed for the side of the house, a place to store those things in the garage which kept me from using it as a shop. I designed an arbor to replace a part of the remaining Confinement Fence, the rest of which would be removed, and I noted for ‘disappearance’ six of the dozen loathsome Bigleaf Maples which closely ring my house. The remaining six, too large or too close to the house to fell, would get severe prunings or selected trunk removal to reduce the volume of those stupid leaves. After doing projects, I love making lists of projects; to plan for change, creating drawings and dreams, afforded me a grand time. I was having more fun making plans for change than I had in all the previous TWO YEARS of living in the home. In fact, with the New Year only one thing had not changed: my wife…or rather, her mind.
As I spoke with greater and greater enthusiasm of my plans, my wife agreed and applauded, but reserved that tone in her voice in the way she does not think I can hear: ‘Yes…but.’ These reservations, abstract and imprecise, led us to friction over the first real difference we have had in our fifteen years together. We have ALWAYS wanted the same things, ALWAYS liked the same things. We had never before disagreed on a Grand Plan. Now, I wanted to stay in this house and had ‘fallen in love’ with it in a way I had not before; my wife, having decided she wanted to move last fall, could not get her mind to move back in. We had reached the first fundamental idealogical divide in our life together. And a divide wherein one person arrives at decision through reason and the other maintains belief through emotion: that is not a divide easily bridged.
I cannot help that there is obviously a punchline to this tale, a bombshell at this point less
explosive than the first time I dropped it in the fall. So when my wife took me to see a property just down the street, a 1977 semi-split with a super smart floorplan on a shy acre at the end of a cul-de-sac, of course we made an offer–accepted the next day. Much in the way that when my wife said she wanted a baby and I wanted a puppy, the compromise was not the baby gorilla I suggested…but in fact, a baby (when said illustrative baby was born, I knew I had made the right choice; my daughter is awesome, and gorillas can become difficult to manage as they age). I trust that giving up my will to accede to my wife’s wish is the right choice, and I will love our new home too. Whether I do, or don’t…well, I am husband and father first, and I live to serve the hive.
We put our house up for sale the next day and miraculously, five days later that sold too. We move at the end of March. I cannot say that I’m not conflicted: I DO love this house I built, though probably the way an heiress loves a Hell’s Angel. It isn’t right, but it’s just so damn sexy. While all seems fine to me now, when the Mountain Beavers consume another thousand dollars’ worth of plants, I’ll be fed up again. Right now my daughter and I can play basketball in the garage, but next year the hoops go up a foot for third-grade girls, and it isn’t likely she’ll want to practice the Hakeem Olajuwan Dream Shake on colored spots on the floor without taking the shot. I didn’t want to sell the house
at the price we sold it; we take a pretty good loss on costs outside of the construction budget, and it will keep me working at least a decade to make it up, but I don’t want to live in a monument to my own hubris, either. At the same time, the ‘new’ house is 36 years old and has the same problems, projects, the same improvements and work, as my last house,
the one I bought when I was twenty-nine. I am forty -five now. I can’t help but feel that I have moved the progress of my life back significantly. As a man, a husband, a father, I want to do what is best for my family and to do the right thing, and I am troubled that I cannot say that ‘best’ and ‘right’ are the same.
2013, The Year I Changed My Mind, indeed.