Tag Archives: money

The Shabin

There’s not much left of the road. Just two indention’s overgrown with weeds and grass. Blink and tilt your head and you can almost make out the tire tracks. But alder trees are growing in between the divots and it’s clear that no one has driven a car back here in a long time.

In my hand is a scrap of printer paper, a series of hastily scribbled squares and rectangles drawn on it. One of those rectangles is my future home, maybe. Brittney follows along right behind me. Just ahead is a man I admire and love. A man I want to be like, but with my own flair, my own style. After all, there’s only one Kim Heacox just like there’s one David Cannamore. At the youthful age of 65, Kim’s enthusiasm remains boundless and I find myself wondering what he must have been like when he was 30. I know I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with him.

He leads us through the properties acres, referring to it over and over again as, “our property.”

Our property.

My god. Is it really possible? A small cabin sits near the land’s southern border next to the remnant of the road. The rest is Spruce and Pine forest with a bit of bog, a bit of marsh, and sprinkled with berries. Oh the berries. High bush cranberries, neigoon berries, even some low lying blueberries. I pass an alder no more than knee high. I run my hands through its branches. The leaves are manicured and nibbled. A moose has been here recently. It feels like home.

We can’t stay away. We drive the two miles back to the little slice of heaven. We forgot the tape measure, so we measure the cabin’s tiny room the only way we can. I lay down on the wood floor and so does Brittney, her feet brushing my scalp. We can almost lay down all the way. Calling it a studio  would be generous. No running water, no toilet.

I doubt many would understand the appeal of a dry cabin devoid of plumbing. Cabin may not be the best description. It’s part cabin part shack. A shabin as it were. But both of us see it for what it can be. Knock out a wall, raise the roof, put in a loft. Definitely a bathroom. What are we missing? A sink! Should install a sink at some point.

But for the right price… we’ve lived rustically long enough. What’s a few more years?

I think about the homes we walked past in the Seattle suburbs. 700,000 dollar monstrosities on a quarter acre in tidy suburbs. Each home copy and pasted from the last. Each subdivision given some charming name like Shady Acres or Pebbled Brook. I don’t want a 30-year mortgage. I don’t want property tax. I don’t want my neighbor’s music echoing through my walls.

Give me simple. Give me peace. Give me trees and blueberries. In our minds it’s already ours and we haven’t even called the owner yet. The owner we know is looking to sell. You’re crazy if you think I’m telling you where in Gustavus it is.

It’s scary. Sure we’ve talked about buying a house in this city filled with magic for three years. But to be this close, our feet draped over the edge, just one step from going over. Maybe buying a house is like having kids. If you wait until you’re ready you’ll never do it. But I also know that this is what we want. That we’re ready to make this home.

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Collect Experiences. Not Things

For the first time in years I want something that I cannot have. The number in my bank account is woefully too small to buy the house that Brittney and I have been salivating over for the past two days. It’s not a mansion with enough square footage to fit a basketball court. Nor does it look out over some ridiculous ocean side vista. It’s just a humble, quaint, hobbit approved house on a tiny road in Gustavus, Alaska. And I can’t have it.

Since graduating from college, I’ve been rebelling against the status quo. Bouncing from seasonal jobs, spending months in New Zealand and Canada and loving every minute of a life that we seem to create one step at a time. But as we’ve wandered, we’ve begun to feel the need to have a home base. A place where kayak gear, camera equipment, and pets can pile up without fear of how on earth they will fit in the Nissan Tetris in a few months. So we looked up houses in Gustavus and began to covet really bad. Houses are never an impulse buy. Thank God. Because I was looking all over the screen for the, “buy now” button like it was ebay.

We took a little crash course in down payments, mortgages, and interest rates. What else are you going to do a 9 pm on an island where you represent 66% of the population? Slowly we began to accept the hard truth that the dream was a long ways away. Though it didn’t stop us from scrolling through the photos one more time (so much natural light!).

In Victoria, British Columbia is the Phillips Brewery, the only microbrew beer I can find in Alert Bay’s tiny liquor store. Besides having a Peanut Butter Stout, which is freaking amazing, the inside of their bottle caps have the phrase, “collect experiences, not things.” For the first time in a long time I want, “things,” or more accurately, “thing” in leu of, “experiences.” Weird.

Of course, if we hadn’t been jet setting, going to baseball games, and had, you know, worked the past seven months, we might be able to make it happen. But I sit in a house perched on the rocks over Blackney Pass. A storm beginning to build after a calm red sky morning. Yesterday was monopolized by calling orcas, sea lions bark and roar at all hours of the day, and the stars pop with no interference from streetlights. Sure, I could be sitting in that house today and I’m sure we’d love it. We’d also have a thirty year financial commitment that would really make it tough to live up to the website’s namesake.

I’m sure someday we’ll truly be ready for that sort of endeavor. But when we do, I want there to be no regrets, that it’s done on our terms, on our time. That we don’t sit in our house with fantastic natural lightening and wonder what could have been. Someday we’ll have a doormat that says, “Cannamore” and a sign that says, “all guests must be approved by the cat.” But until than, I’ll savor the adventure, the sweat, the and cursing as I try to cram one more duffel bag in the back of the car.

Collect experiences, not things. Experiences after all, don’t need a house to be stored in.