When I tell people that I lived four years of my life without running water or electricity, people think I am joking. But it’s the truth. After living on my grandparents’ property for a few years, my parents bought 20 acres of land outside of the microscopic town just south of the Canadian border. The land was completely raw, no electricity lines, no well, and no house. So my parents bought a new and improved trailer and drug it up the washboarded dirt roads. I remember that day; it was quite a job to haul a 60′ x 12′ trailer up a 6′ wide road with a hairpin turn in it. Man, I feel bad for that truck driver!
At the time, I hated living there. It was my pre- and early teen years and I felt isolated from friends. We had to use an outhouse. We had to haul our water, which made everything more difficult. We didn’t have a refrigerator, instead using camping coolers constantly. But it wasn’t all bad. My cousins lived on our property for a while too, and we roamed all over that property pretending to be explorers, and “building” clubhouses. There were rattlesnakes, but all the kids were aware, and nobody ever got hurt. I remember many beautiful sunsets and that is where I took my first pictures with a real camera. My dad taught me about the stars there. And bikes– oh the times I had on my bikes. To this day, one of the best feelings is the freeing feeling of riding a bike.
I learned so much living this way. I have a huge appreciation for the outdoors. I learned how to build a fire at a very young age. I know how to light a kerosene lamp. I could cook on a propane stove, and then do the dishes afterwards without a functioning sink. I appreciate solar and wind energy.
This more interesting phase of my life seems to define me more than any other. I guess because I was so “different” during this time, it formed my personality. It was a sort of refiner’s fire for me. When I look back and realize that it was only 4 years of my life, I am the one surprised. It felt like to much longer.
This was a time filled with difficult emotions for my family. My parents fought all the time throughout all my childhood, but this period of time was the worst, by far. And when we moved from The Hill, it was because my parents finally split up and my mom moved us to town. My dad quickly followed us, so that separation didn’t last long. Boy howdy, looking back, do I wish it had lasted longer! I am sure this emotional time made it feel like it was longer than it really was, and also I am sure it was another reason why I feel like my life was so shaped by this time in my life.
I could really look back on this time and tell a negative story. Or I could play it up and make it sound heavenly. I am hoping that I have stuck close to a middle line. I haven’t worked through it enough for myself to decide whether I think it was positive or negative. And really, it just was. I learned a lot. I suffered a lot. It contributed to the person I am today. Simple as that.