I graduated and accepted the job with Caterpillar. I was ready to start and had little to move, so I drove Babe the blue ox, also known as my Subaru Forrester to Lafayette, IN to find an apartment.
I searched Zillow, Trulia, Apartments.com and visited numerous complexes. It was a tad overwhelming.
The day before I was to sign a lease to Pheasant Run apartments, I saw this in the newspaper https://www.jconline.com/story/news/crime/2019/05/24/lafayette-man-killed-found-suspects-apartment/1221285001/
A murderer lived in the same complex and kept the body of his victim in the closet. It gave me reason to pause.
I was a bit apprehensive. Then, I thought, if they found one murderer at the complex, what is the likelihood there are more? Highly unlikely.
I texted my contact at Caterpillar and she asked me to call.
She put me on a conference call with the other members of my team, most from the Metallurgical Lab and Quality. I told them I was poised to sign a lease with Pheasant Run.
“Why don’t we get together and talk before you do that?” She had misgivings about Pheasant Run despite the fact that her husband had lived there before they were married. He said it was fine.
I had little else to do. Why not?
We sat at her kitchen counter, comparing notes, looking at a map and the internet.
“I have a friend who has a tiny house that her parents used to live in. She might be willing to let you stay there for a while. It’s small, but really cute. I don’t know if she wants to rent it out again. I could call and see?”
Once again, I had nothing to lose.
The minute I stepped into the garden, heard the frogs croaking and saw the tiny house I was hooked. The garden was incredible, black and orange koi in the pond, flowers blooming and beans growing on the fence. A book of Wendell Berry’s poetry perched next to the loveseat in the front room. Wendell Berry?? I couldn’t contain my sheer pleasure. I LOVE WENDELL BERRY! I hope I didn’t squeal, but I may have.
It was a slice of paradise and maybe a block from the trails and memorial of the Battle of Tippecanoe. It felt like home the minute I laid eyes on it.
Brenda and Greg were my long-lost cousins from another life. She works with wood, when not employed caring for local parks. He is a finish carpenter. Both are avid canoe/kayakers. It was like aliens dropped me in a campground of my dreams. There was a clothesline and a compost pile in the yard behind my place. Sharon, my friend from Caterpillar, brought over some vegetable starts and I put them in by the clothesline. She also donated a single coil for me to cook on.
My tiny house had no shower or bathtub. I joined the YMCA to shower, or would use Brenda and Greg’s when it was convenient. My tiny house had no dishwasher, no microwave, no kitchen sink. Once a week I would cook a vat of soup and divvy it into my glass jars and take one a day to work. I would carry everything across the yard to clean in B& G’s house. I cleaned lettuce and made a daily salad, and boiled pasta for dinner. Hummus. Brenda would park cucumbers by the back door to share from the garden. My tiny home was a sweet place to land every night. It had everything I needed plus the added benefit of built-in community.
Almost every night, Brenda and I would chat. She was an instant friend, kind and open. We talked easily about everything. She had a habit of picking up potted plants that needed care and bringing them home, but never getting them into the ground. I was more than happy to pick a place in the garden and dig a hole for them to take root.
Both Brenda and Greg loved canoeing and kayaking and they included me in their friend group, inserting me into Dave’s canoe. What fun. Rock hunting on the shore and learning to spot the paw-paw fruits dangling off trees.
This small place was the richest I have ever lived. 250 square feet of paradise.
I never signed a lease. For either place.