where the writers are
Urban Camping

I woke up this morning with a very cold nose. That's because our furnace has been switched off during this part of a remodel. The kind-sized bed where I lay hidden under the covers was recently wedged into the guest room, which was once in my hopeful baby days designated to be the nursery. It's now on its way to becoming my office/do-whatever-I-want room -- but for the next two-three months it'll be where we sleep. The other place we hang out these days is in our garage.

This little corner of the world is where Mr. PJ and I can be found in the morning toasting bagels and grabbing a cuppa Joe. We gather there again at the end of the day to cook up dinner on our hot plate or microwave. Our minimal dish washing takes place in a dish pan dropped into the bath tub in the only functioning bathroom in the house. When the temperatures dip to the 40s at night we head for the guest room and snuggle under a warm down comforter.

Today as I made my way around the plastic sheeting stapled to the ceiling to get into the new kitchen under construction I couldn't help but wonder what the big deal was. Where's the horrible stress that everyone claimed would have us ripping our hair out and testing our marriage?

This is urban camping. We're tapping our creativity to see how little we actually need to survive. Anthony and Ben, the carpenters who show up each day at 7am in the middle of our breakfast, have practically become extended members of the family. We kibbitz and razz them for their off-key singing.

I knew this project would take six months, cost some coin and disrupt our lives some. Again: what's the big deal? Stress? You want to talk stress? As any infertile knows there are many worse ways to live. Try year after year of being in the midst of a "construction" project that has no end in sight. Where you write big checks and never get the return. Where you plan and make accommodations but never see any actual progress. Where every day you study the calendar and wonder if this month or later this year might be the one that nets a successful outcome and the fruits of labor. Where your "contractor" orchestrates a team of hard working journeymen and women to assess, test and try to keep your hopes up but ultimately has to deliver bad news -- the project was canceled or can't be completed.

The construction project I'm living with and through today is a cake walk, a freakin' day at the beach. It ain't no big thing. That's because every day I see tangible evidence of the architect's plans taking shape. When we write checks the electrical fixtures and windows appear, the house gets a roof and the plumbing goes in.

Speaking of plumbing a lovely air heated tub will go into the new master bath this week. I seriously wish I'd had that tub when I had real stress in my life.