Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day 237 of 365: Off the Grid

It's the little things that remind you how good you have it. Or used to have it.

Take, for instance, a dishwasher, or a washer/dryer in the same unit as you. My husband's first apartment -- deep in the heart of Slummerville Somerville -- had no dishwasher. You realize just how awesome it is -- just how much work you are relieved of -- when you have a dishwasher. Our Nashua apartment had no washer/dryer in the unit and we had to trug our stuff out to the "community room" to wash our clothes. Even though we were maybe 10 steps from said "community room", it was still a chore to end all chores, making us opine about our apartment on the North Shore, even though it was grossly overpriced.

Living in a small town means, more likely than not, your home is barely on the grid. And by that, I mean the only thing that the town really supplies directly to you is electricity. In the city/dense suburbs, everything comes in through an intricate set of pipes. When you're out in the woods so to speak, laying that pipe makes no sense. The ROI is next to zero. So instead, we get our water from a well, we get our heat from a tank, and we have a septic system. And, since most garbage disposals are not septic-system-friendly, we went the first 6+ months of homeownership without one.

You forget just how good it is to have a garbage disposal in your sink until you are sans disposal. Suddenly, you're emptying out the strainer every damn day. You cringe when you make rice or quinoa because you know that means an extra strainer-cleaning.

We used some of our tax-return money to invest in a septic-system-friendly disposal. My husband expertly installed it and, as of last night, we are back to being civilized people. I diced up potatoes as part of dinner yesterday and tossed the bruised ends into the sink, just on principle alone.

Even though living away from central pipeline comes with its own set of disadvantages (like we can't run the dishwasher and washing machine at the same time, lest we overflow our septic system), I absolutely love it. Maybe it's because part of me eyes modern civilization, knowing full well that all this shit could collapse at any second. Maybe I just like being self-sufficient. But I like having my house be almost entirely off the grid. If I could (and we had the money for it), we'd have solar panels on our roof (potentially removing the need for city-delivered electricity). In fact, while I wistfully dream of owning condos in every corner of the world, my husband dreams of building a second house that is entirely off the grid.

But then again, this really shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone who knows me (or my husband): I like being independent in that way, a part of the pack on a voluntary basis, but otherwise striking it out on their own. The same reason why I cringed at "group projects" or anything that involved working alongside anyone else.

And one of the things I love about living in New Hampshire is how close the boonies can be to civilization. The same way you drive half an hour away from any of the major cities and be in the forests (and, once you get to Manchester and Concord, it's not even a 30-minute drive; cross the border and you can hit the sticks), the forests are only a quick drive to back to civilization. I can get to "Manch-vegas" in less time than it takes me to find parking in Boston. I can be part of the crowd on a very easy and very convenient voluntary basis.

It's always interesting how I keep taking these mundane things that happen and spinning them into broader viewpoints on my life. You can just call me the JD of the blogosphere. Because I'm about as adept at this as the writers from Scrubs. I'll let you decide if I'm complimenting or insulting myself.

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