A few weeks ago, I have shared a text about the old cottage that we have recently moved into. In the spirit of authenticity, I was going to write about everything. On the day I finally sat down to write, I was in a great mood, the weather was fantastic so the text that appeared on my screen was a beautiful description of the romance here. It was not untrue, some less picturesque parts were merely omitted. Somehow it felt so rounded that I didn’t want to spoil it. So of course in my head I kept writing more of what I wanted to share about our current living situation.
It’s not necessarily the most beautiful memories that are shining the brightest, but the strongest ones. For me it’s often the ones that have involved a bit of discomfort. Waking up in Patagonia, next to a crater lake, on the Argentinian and Chilean border. It was so cold, we did not have the strength to change from our sleeping gear, we just packed the tent quickly and went to wait in the car until the borders opened for the day. Hiking down to base camp after making it to the top of Kilimanjaro. Sleeping in a car next to a gas station somewhere in Brazil because there was no “time to waste time” looking for a hotel and we needed to keep on driving. All of these moments involved feeling invincible, feeling capable and feeling alive. In all of the above, choice is the key element.
Naturally when I had to go into the garden in the early morning hours to fill two buckets with rain water so we could use them to flush the toilet, I felt (for the lack of a better expression) alive. That’s really saying something because after moving back to Czech Republic, it’s actually been the very opposite – the feeling of barely alive. So these spartan conditions reminded me that I still have it in me, that I still have a personality, which just quietened down under the burden of daily musts.
Unfortunately everything has its limits and it turns out that especially limited is your sense of adventure after you haven’t slept four nights in a row.
Ok Tereza, can you finally stop being so damn philosophical and tell us why the hell in the 21st century in the middle of Europe do you have to collect rainwater to flush the toilet? Yes, damn it, I will tell you, but on my own terms.
Let’s start with this. In the past year, we have made some bad decisions, which have probably been driven by emotion and to a certain degree not being able to imagine changes in life with two little kids in tow. The ideas that we had were unrealistic and expectations were not met. Leaving the life in Australia, where we loved living, was driven mainly by two reasons. Family, which we couldn’t see due to the border being closed along with the hopes of having some help with the kids. Properties, all of which needed our involvement. One in particular that needs to be completely renovated and rented out.
Bad idea number one was leaving Australia. Second bad idea was thinking we can live with family. Third bad idea was to renovate a property for a business rather than renovating our own home first. Bad expectation number one was thinking that we will be happy finally coming back to our home country after such a long time. Bad expectation number two was that grandparents are ready to be grandparents with all that it takes. Third bad expectation was purely mine, thinking that for the time being, I will be mature enough and able to handle the serious downgrade in our lifestyle.
This all added up and I feel like there’s no end to the storm. Sometimes the wind dies out for a bit, but as soon as you catch your breath, check the compass for where you are going, it starts to snow. It’s been like this since the very beginning in July. Therapy helps, sun helps, being outside helps, visits from friends help, the fact that we are so very much in love helps. All of this helps a little and there are days when I feel like we will come out of this on the other side, look back to these days and think what an adventure. Hopefully that’s true.
The cottage we have moved into is a place, where we planned to live in for a long time now. We have never planned to move into it without a serious rebuild. In this case the renovations would not only involve the floors and the walls, but also a completely new water and waste system. We only planned to do that someday. Someday is as accurate as our plan got. “Some” day after we finish renovating the other property and live somewhere else for the time being. This “somewhere” else wasn’t specified in our plans either.
So when we moved to Czech Republic, it was essentially like moving to a different country and starting anew. We didn’t have a car, we didn’t know where to go and shop. The real crisis started when autumn came crazy quickly and I didn’t have any clothes for the kids. These banal things suddenly became a major problem. It would have been easier if we were able to stay at my parents’ house like we initially planned, but instead we had to find a place to live on top of these daily struggles. I really didn’t want to go into a rental, apart from the cost, the task of furnishing a place felt like too much. So instead we had yet another bad idea and moved into the cottage. Instead of renovating, we made it liveable.
Immediately we felt better. The place is beautiful as described. We finally had our own household again. For the first time in more than a decade I had all of my things under one roof. The view is like no other. With November came the cold, the fog, the coughs and the water stopped running. The plan is to drill a new well (an only option in this village), which takes time. The company we are dealing with told us May next year is probably realistic if all the approvals go through. In the meantime we are using the same well that has been here since Lukas was a toddler. Unfortunately it’s not able to sustain our household and the neighbours’ who are also connected. So here we are. Me, desperately not wanting to move again and at loss of ideas. Everything else can be sorted, but you can’t buy water for a well. When it’s been a few days without a shower and without proper sleep as the kids are not feeling well, things really start to weigh on you and you question everything. Even with a running dishwasher, things with two kids can get overwhelming. Most importantly you really ask yourself: What the hell was I thinking? What the hell was I thinking to voluntarily go into this situation and bring my kids into it too?
With all of this happening, it has really made me think long and hard about how living that truly sustainable lifestyle is such a privilege. I already wrote on this topic and the recent experience confirmed it completely. You know what? Without water you can’t exactly wash cloth nappies.
To finish on a positive note. I do understand why peasants who worked hard had a lot of kids. Water might not be running, but there’s a sexual revolution happening here. Summer 2016 can certainly be jealous of Autumn 2022 big time.
SlávkaNovember 25, 2022 at 7:48 pm
Don’t know if you read this and if you do, maybe is useless to tell you, but still I need to write this: you touched my heart with this article (and my husbands as well), we did not live for such a long time abroad nor in such a beautiful country. But, every time we were leaving places we considered our homes, it felt terrible. When I left Spain, I cried for few days and being back with all my slovak friends was not helping. I wish I had read this article on those days, I felt like a stranger, all considering me crazy not being happy back home. At that time I did not know my husband, who told me (after reading him your article) felt exactly the same. So healing for me, this moment 🙏
I wish you find your healing moment as well, who knows, maybe you re in the middle of it right now.
Thanx for this article!
terezaFebruary 1, 2023 at 6:23 am
First of all, thank you for a comment that is not a spam! It means so much to me that real people read this <3, at least it makes sense for me to write. I am beyond grateful that my writing could be a healing moment for anyone.
Your feelings are ALWAYS valid, even if rationally they don't make sense or other people might find them crazy. And how wonderful that your husband felt the same and that you are able to share this with him. You always leave a piece of your heart behind leaving a place that you loved. You might think that there's only one place to call home for you, but the truth is, for some people it might not be just the one and we have to make peace with it, the heart and soul scattered across because of all we have experienced. If you ever want to chat, you know where to find me.