To dream of a Home
I remember the very moment I first thought of building a house. It was spring in 2005. After spending the last two years in a constant battle with DSHS to retain our temporary state disability while applying for federal benefits, both Jeremy and I had just received notification our battle was won. We had both been approved for social security disability after appealing our case before a kind judge. We began looking forwards to three years worth of back payments and the ability to have a steady income once more.
More importantly, we began to dream.
Jeremy’s dad was agreeable to the idea of us using a small portion of his property to build a house on. At the time, the location was a cute little clearing near enough to the driveway to allow easy building. We spent hours out there each week, sitting and dreaming of the house we would soon be living in. Because in those days, everyone told us it would be an easy place to build, mere weeks to finish after all the permits were approved.
To build a house seems a daunting task, and indeed it should have seemed even more so due to how severely ill we both are. Nonetheless, I took up the project with great zeal and an incredible desire to finally have a real home.
As the weeks rolled by and became months, we had still made very little progress. Working on a shoestring budget as we were, we had tried to build very small and very much under budget. Conventional building materials were not an option as they are far too toxic for our bodies to handle now. This was how we came to build a load-bearing straw bale house, a hope for less toxicity. It is also the first one approved for building in our county. Given the nature of what we were trying to build, we had few options for contractors. Because of this we tried working with independent contractors and professionals who though unlicensed, showed a great willingness to make our dream of living in a safe house a reality.
Promises of meeting budgets and MCS needs filled the air, only to later be blown away on the breeze.
It is absolutely incredible the number of people willing to take advantage of a severely ill couple living in a tent. Astounding even. It eventually all came down to money. They wanted more than the agreed upon prices in the contracts to continue working and we refused to be strong armed into paying more. I do not understand people who think that way, and perhaps that is ultimately what led to our being deceived by them in the first place. Or perhaps they had originally meant to keep the promises they uttered, but after the initial shock of finding two people homeless in the woods had faded, they began to think more of their pocketbooks than of being kind and gentle people.
Whatever the reasons, four and a half years later our house still sits without us in it, lonely and waiting to be completed. The years have left us with little resources to finish building, no contractors whom we can trust, and a home no longer safe for us to be within twenty feet of it for longer than a few minutes. Out of options and out of resources, I don’t know how we will ever get this done. But what I do know is that every day sees me out there looking at my unfinished and toxic house and trying to will it from the very depths of my being to become the finished, toxic free house that I have always dreamed it could be.