There was always hope. Hope in the better tomorrow when a day was rough. Hope that the rain would stop that day when the cabin decided to flood. Hope that the cold would end and we would see the sun. Hope that when we had been to the ocean to scream things would be better by the time we got home. And that was the thing with hope. Somehow it always happened. Somehow the rain did stop, admittedly three days later, but there was an end to the water rising and a lot of clearing up to do. That also passed. Somehow things did get better. A new job would come in for Zah, someone would buy a book, a garden would be commissioned. Somehow hope never failed us even though it could take a while. What we needed, not always what we wanted, would happen and we would be grateful.
The cabin was always a fun way to hope. We built it log by log, bit by bit in a “T” shape because for me light was important. I’d spent too many years locked away in a dimly lit New York apartment and lack of life left me feeling sickened. So the bedroom was one arm of the “T’ with windows on all sides. North, south, east, west I was able to look out and feel a breeze through an open window. One night Zah told me that he was concerned when we designed it but said nothing. He had seen in my eyes the fear of the dark and the need to see the trees and ocean. So he’d said nothing and we had built our crazy cabin. That first winter we froze thanks to all the glass but Zah told me it was worth it to see me smile unconsciously as I saw some bird or animal through the window. The following spring we saved and bought triple glazing for the room and I made heavier curtains. After that we never had to hope for warmth again. Anyway we had each other, the dogs, and there was always extra duvets.
Every time we had to hope it would come to pass. One night by the fire pit as we were drowsily watching the lights dance Zah asked me about my hopes. I said that I hoped he would keep this cuddle going while magically finding a way of grabbing another bottle of wine from the kitchen. As I lay there slightly dazed from being allowed to fall back out of his arms and I heard his feet pounding the ground to get the bottle I stopped to think about it. The hopes we allowed ourselves were realities waiting to happen. They weren’t special just things that would come into being when the time was right. Like the promises we never hoped for what we didn’t subconsciously know was reality. There was no hope of someday owning a Porsche or finding ourselves millionaires because that didn’t matter and we had no surety in it. What we hoped was the inevitable would happen and it did. Zah came pounding back with the wine and as we took turns swigging from the bottle I told him what I’d realized. “Good, eh? I know what I hope for” was all he came up with before he burped and things became more adult under the lights. Now that was a certainty waiting to happen.
The realization was proved true when we flooded for the first time. The site should have been perfect but extra snowmelt meant that the stream running down to the ocean burst its banks and wiped out the rose garden. Zah and I were pleased that we’d thought of this and made sure that carpets weren’t wall to wall. Everything could be rolled up and packed up into my office in the roof. There we spent two days watching the water and kind of having a good time. The dogs would go wading through the kitchen and at one point something long and shadowy circled through the water. Whether it was a fish, an eel, or just weeds we never found out, but after we spotted it we agreed the dogs should stay dry. Again hope said the waters will go down and they did. This time meaning that we banked up our side of the stream to below the house and eventually turned the whole area into a very nice terrace. So I lost my roses, most were washed away, but it didn’t matter. Those bushes we found were planted elsewhere and grafts made. A very nice lady who read my work sent us three Souvenir de la Malmaison as a replacement when she heard about what had happened and so rose garden became roses all over the place. We were blessed and grateful that our home was still standing and we were safe.
Zah is the better at hope. With me I sometimes slip into a place where I can see the tarnish on a cloud’s silver lining. He will slip his hand in mine and take me for a walk even when I protest I have a piece to finish. He’ll pick me up and throw my shoes in a bush to make me walk and connect again with the earth. One time when I was being particularly obnoxious and failing to look for the good in something he stood me barefoot in the freezing stream and told me I could only leave when I’d seen something good. Looking at him I instantly saw something good so I was allowed to run back to the house before chilblains set in. So hope begat hope that day though a degree of lust and love were the lubricant which let it slide in. I never finished that article. I was too busy warming up in bed with Zah.
Then there was the time Zah’s son appeared from college unexpectedly. Things had gone wrong, he felt unable to continue. A lot of it stemmed from loneliness and a certain degree of prejudice too but the poor lad was broken. We agreed he should take a couple of weeks with us to work through what was going on and see if he really wanted to quit. My office became a room for him so he could be away from us. As it was April I would sit in the summer house and shiver but it was worth it to know he was safe. My hope was that he would stay on at school but it was between the two of them to decide the how and the what. After three days my hope of him returning became a hope of somewhere warm to write but it was ok. On the fourth day Zah came out and said that things were more settled. Chase would return to school for the rest of the term and see how things went. Zah talked and I listened as he spoke about all the little things that had grown into big things and how he hoped Chase would make it.
As we lay in bed that night neither of us felt hopeful. We worried and tossed and turned until about three in the morning when Zah suddenly whispered in my ear an idea. He asked if I minded and I kissed him saying I approved wholeheartedly. What made him happy made me happy though I spent the rest of the night awake wondering how we’d achieve it. The idea was simple. We would give Chase an option and a security. Over breakfast the next morning we told him the plan. Return to college, be brilliant, shine as well you can but you will always have a place here and never feel ashamed when you come back. Zah flipped a key to him across the table and told Chase that there would be a door and a new wing with his name on it when he finished the term. He would always have a place to be and it would be his. So the “T” became an “H” that summer. Trees were felled, sawdust got everywhere, thumbs were hit with hammers, and somehow we found the money to make his side the same as ours. He would have all the light he needed and the privacy as well. The roses had to be moved again but they and I were getting used to that one and somehow they thrived. We also learned from the mistakes of our own room. So when he visited he didn’t have to freeze that following Christmas. In the end he passed with honors and is still going from strength to strength. He never chose to live with us but he still wears the key round his neck. He tells me it’s his hope and reassurance and we love it every time he walks down the path to the house.