Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"I Hope To, Real Soon"

The CoachHouse interior is beginning to look more like a house and less like a construction site, but it is a long way from being finished.  

Kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinets will be installed this Friday (I hope) and these custom cabinets are on the “critical path” schedule for much else:  kitchen countertop and backsplash, bathroom sink and vanity, floors, baseboards, water heater, toilet, and well—simply, a LOT.  

But progress can be seen, especially with the sheetrock floated and textured, tub and shower tile in place (no grout yet), and window sills installed (as I type).   The electricians return tomorrow, bringing life to the receptacles, switches and recessed pots.

The spot for the washer/dryer:

No air conditioner but lots of insulation:

Sheetrock work:

An old fashioned bathtub and tiled shower, sans grout and faucet:

Window sills ready to be primed and painted:

This little CoachHouse will provide much in the way of convenience, serving as the Airstream’s winter base for travels around Texas.  And I am excited about it providing a nice little guest quarters for visiting family and friends.  

But what I am most anxiously awaiting is the availability of a washer and dryer-- and a bathtub!  

I’m not ready to blog about Laundromats, but I’m guessing many will get a chuckle just thinking about me in a Laundromat, carefully checking washer and dryer for “residue” of prior users, not to mention my “process” for getting clean clothes “out” of said washer/dryer with minimal “residue” contact.  Yes, give your personal washing machine and dryer a hug, and agree that community Laundromat’s are for the college student or twenty-something’s first apartment experience.      
The Airstream does, in fact, have a very nice walk-in shower; but no bathtub.  I’ve seen a couple of TV shows on HGTV, showing examples of “high-end” RVs with a multitude of amenities including full-size bathtubs. Would I want one of those RVs if someone gifted me with the over-million dollar purse required for ownership?  Absolutely not—at over 40 feet in length, they are too big to “camp” in my beloved state parks, not to mention driving the back roads of North America.  I’ll stick with the luxury of our “condo on wheels”, sans washer/dryer and sans bathtub.  And yes I know I’m spoiled by camping in this traveling condo—and I like it that way. 
But I’m really looking forward to a “base camp” with the added amenities of washer, dryer, bathtub.  A place to return from winter camping trips and wash clothes, draw a hot bath, bird and hike from this unique base camp, and get ready for the next trip to our beloved state parks. 
I propose that our world is divided into two types of people:  shower people and bath people, regardless of type of shower (military, outdoor, walk-in) or type of bath (tub, river, lake, etc).  There are some folk that like both, but they are the rarer bird.  

And so when CoachHouse neighbors stop by to check out the latest custom build of these 12’x24’ “sheds”, almost all comment on the fact that I’ve allocated precious space to a bathtub rather than the more compact shower stall.  

They’ll say, “You going to use the bathtub?”  I reply with my best Texas drawl, “I hope to, real soon.”  And when I suffer the Laundromat with other WTs without access to personal washers and dryers, they’ll ask:  “You going to have a washer and dryer in your new CoachHouse?”  I reply, “I hope to, real soon.”
I learned about hope seven years ago.  I learned that I didn’t know a thing about it.  I learned that I believed in hope the way our American culture teaches our children to believe in Santa Claus.  Children are told through advertisements, movies, and family customs “if you are good, Santa will come.”  

And so the children go to bed on Christmas Eve, “hoping” Santa will leave them presents under the tree and fill their stockings with wonderful surprises.  And their hope is grounded in the fact that they pretty much know it will happen.  In poverty and in wealth, children know whether or not they can hope for Santa to come.

Expectations are set and based on the given condition; a factoid, as logicians would say.  Behavior is based on a known, or highly probable, future.  I hope to have a washer, dryer and bathtub really soon, because I’m paying a prime contractor team to install them.  Hope is almost an easy thing, when the outcome is based on a “known future”.  Seems patience is the main challenge.
And then there is the sharing of hope, not so much about a highly probable future, but more about the expressions that are comfortable to our culture:  “I hope you have a nice day.”  “I certainly hope so.”  “I hope that helps.”  “I hope to see you again, really soon.”  “I hope you don’t mind.”  Hope is almost an easy thing, when the outcome is about the niceties of life.  Seems a positive outlook is the main challenge.
And then there is the exclaiming of hope as an expression of casual advice:  “I hope not.”  “Don’t give up hope.”  “I hoped you wouldn’t.”  “Don’t have false hope.” “I hope you’ll understand if ….”  Hope is almost an easy thing, when expressing casual quips of advice, whether meant or pretended.  Seems a clear understanding of the intent (or pretense) is the main challenge.
But what happens to hope when we truly don’t know the outcome?  When an important aspect of our future is not known, and even holding a future is unknown?  What does it mean to express hope when we aren’t throwing out niceties or quips of advice?
How does hope work when a doctor tells a patient, “I’m not sure if you’ll ever ______ again.”  You fill in the blank:  walk, see, stand, talk, etc.  Do I understand hope, do I believe in hope, do I exercise hope when the outcome is so unknown that percentage chances are replaced by “I’m not sure if you’ll ever…?”  Cancer patients are often given percentage chances:  75% chance of a full recovery; 25% chance of living five more years; 5% chance of more than three weeks.  And hope?  Do we frame our hope on this known future?  Is hope about begging or bargaining?  Is it about strength or weakness? 
Some people lump hope with faith.  But even the famous “love chapter” to the Corinthians separated the two; and gave us some sense of what faith can do:  move mountains.  But hope?  We know it should remain in us. We know we should practice it.  But what is it?  When habit and customs have defined hope as betting on a likely outcome; or in the niceties of life; or in the casual observance of unsolicited advice—do we have hope? Or do we toss it around in our sentences because we don’t know what else to do with it?
Seven years ago a tortuous trauma caused friends and family to fear I’d lose my faith.  It never crossed my mind to do so.  Seven years ago a tortuous trauma caused friends and family to fear I’d given up hope, as I was “mostly dead” as Billy Crystal’s character said in the movie “The Princess Bride”.  I was mostly dead and facing the doctor’s words of “I don’t know if you will ever…” 
What I learned surviving that trauma was that I couldn’t give up something I’d never really practiced; something I didn’t know how to practice.  I’d never experienced the practice of hope when the outcome wasn’t worth a dollar bet.  “Hoping and betting” are not a virtue in my family.   My trauma didn’t cause me to lose hope.  It caused me to realize I only knew how to hold hope for sure things.  My life after trauma didn’t cause me to gain hope.  It causes me to be well aware that when I casually say, “I hope to, real soon” I’m not addressing anything that is important, other than making someone smile.
I believe that any day spent practicing the discipline of faith can be a wonderfully rewarding day.  I believe any day practicing the discipline of love can be a wonderfully fulfilling day.  I believe any day where hope is a discipline to practice, is a day that holds some level of darkness for myself or my loved ones.  I will not pretend:  I do not seek to better understand hope.  I do not seek to practice the discipline of hope.  I don’t want to.
I will be glad when the CoachHouse is done.  I will be glad when my days are filled with family and friends; with travels and hikes; with binoculars raised in praise of a day in the field.  I will be glad when I have a washer and dryer; a bathtub.  I will be glad when I can “get on with my life.”  I hope to, real soon.

1 comment:

  1. Emily - I did get quite a chuckle thinking about you in a laundromat - it is clear you know yourself well! Thanks for including that.

    I peeked into your blog after an event yesterday brought back fond memories of our status meetings. I passed around an interesting electronic board as show-n-tell at the beginning of a status presentation where I was expecting a lot of tough questions. Management was distracted enough looking at the board that I got off pretty easy.

    I've never heard of a coach house before. Sounds like a great home base in a wonderful location.

    Happy Travels!



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