I can’t believe this is the first time I counted it, but today I did, and it’s 73. I walk it ten times a day and now I know that each time I do, your door is just 73 steps away from mine.
But the winter of 2013 had to happen before I could make this walk: two winters ago is when our families decided to trek out, yours from the city and mine from the country, to find a new home somewhere along the South Shore.
We had a dream about where we wanted to raise our families together: it would boast acreage, charm and a body of water. So the six of us hopped into your white Crown Victoria (google that shit) with our two two-year-olds strapped into the back on either side with my husband’s skinny arse between ‘em, your husband’s skinny arse in the middle up front, you at the wheel because that’s your jam and me taking passenger position.
We roped a realtor into helping us find this magical property which hosted either a) a massive home where we could all temporarily live together and one of our families would build a second structure, b) a massive plot that hosted no homes whatsoever so we each had to build a structure, or c) the most unlikely of them all, a plot with two habitable homes. Luckily for us, the list of options to pick from was quite small given that next to none of these options existed at all, let alone in our price range.
Nonetheless, we were on a mission, as your family wanted wide open space to raise your family alongside a family who had some country living experience, and we wanted some god damn company doing our thing and a human to talk to while doing it. Neither of our families could make it happen financially individually, and so we decided, as four educated adults, to pursue it together, against the advice of every single other human on the planet, ever.
So there we were in your car, following a foolishly hopeful realtor some day in the middle of winter on some backcountry rural road after some unremarkable winter storm. If the Crown Vic wasn’t a low rider before it certainly was that day, with all our butts, potties, optimistic cameras and endless snacks in it.
We approached the sharp turn in the road, some casual umpteen hundred potholes, and some icy patches in stride. And then, we reached Mush-a-Mush mountain. Or that’s what your car would have called it, and surely its ego was boosted that day when our tribe wound up jack-knifed in its ditch, only half way up its steady incline.
“Wheeee!” the kids sang out.
It took four grown men to shovel us out of that mess, after enlisting a neighbour down the road. Our realtor’s Jetta sat resting on the hilltop with ease, so we took to its backseat, entertaining our toddlers with our boobs.
That listing, we decided, was not meant to be, and after hours of struggle to get down off that hill, we laughed as we called it a day and headed back to our place with you passing the driving duties on to your hubby.
He drove slightly quicker than you had, because lets face it, everyone does, and was eager to get back and shed his soaken shoes, socks and pants.
But then a turn happened, and the car slid. The kids screamed “wheeee” again, and we ended up in a ditch.
Silence. Silence. Scary silence.
But then you know what came next, after some fresh air? Uncontrollable laughter. CAA was called, the neighbours’ eyes rolled and we moved on.
Some months later, we found our option c. Through two feet of snow, we saw the potential in an ancient farmhouse, fifty sprawling snow-burdened acres, a frozen peninsula and a decrepit mobile home. We did that because, we’ve learned we all bring something special to our dynamic.
There’s me, who is the spontaneous one. My Justin is the dreamer. You’re our thinker and Al’s our financial sense.
And here we sit today. Out in the yard between our two homes. Our babes are on their bare bellies in the green grass, and our toddlers are taking turns riding a $5 pedal bike at just three years old.
Everyone said we couldn’t do it- that we were blowing our savings. That we would regret living together, and that nobody could be talked into giving us a mortgage. But we’ve opened minds and taught folks some shit along the way.
Yes, we are the community’s confusing commune, and yes, we are unconventional. Our neighbours still don’t know who is married to whom, and whose kid is whose. But if only our doubters could see this scene here today, they’d get us. Two years ago we had the foresight to see that our oldest kids, three weeks in age apart, would have the freedom of country living together. Together, in the middle of nowhere, they poop in the lawn and cover it, piss off the deck, observe the slaughter of chickens and push each other to pedal bike at just three years of age.
And our newest additions, just seven weeks apart, can gum eachother’s shoulders, give eachother eye boogies, snuggle in a bed together for four seconds at a time and eat Larabar wrappers together.
My husband taught yours to chainsaw, your husband taught Justin how to talk with neighbours. We’ve unloaded bales of hay together, and built fences when I was due to evict a baby. We’ve dug eachother’s cars and homes out of snowdrifts, and dug luges for sledding. We’ve had the benefit of numbers when it comes to chasing cows back into the pasture, or at least the option to take turns doing so. Each of us keeps a spare carseat in our own backseat for the other couple’s kid.
We’ve made so many mistakes living here, and yes, it is pure chaos. We’re both wearing 48-hour-old grungy pajama pants, our babes are inches away from chicken shit while they lay here in the grass, and our preschoolers are trying to “tow” the pedalbike in two very opposite directions. But at least our pants have solidarity, you inch my babe’s hands away from the poop and I remind our kids to use some words instead of brute force against one another, and we move on with our day.
Yeah, life is intimate living this close. I’ve seen all three of your men’s privates, you’ve picked an earring out of my kid’s ear canal, we’ve committed to memory the other kid’s anuses and wiped them too many times to count. Then there was that talk about not putting things up their buttholes, too.
But there’s also the intimacy of our toddlers playing midwife and baby with each other, and you’ve even let me nurse your babe to help induce my labour.
And we help each other out of the ditch time and time again.
You’re my village.
We made this. Girl, we got this. Only 73 strides away.