I arise today, comfortable on my Japanese futon. Every morning I wake up at 5 am. The morning light starts to flood in the cabin at this early hour. I was never a morning person but without electricity I awake early to utilize the morning light. I enjoy watching the sun rise over the mountains and at the same time watching the smoke billowing out in thick, black, clouds from the local logging factory. When I come home from the office it is pitch black inside my cabin.
When I bought my Japanese futon, I was excited because I had been sleeping on an army cot. I had initially thought of buying a regular futon, and was on the verge of buying one from a couple about an hour away from Belfast, where I work. I asked Joe-Pete if the truck would be ready for me to use on the day that I wanted to pick up the futon. He asked me how far I was going to pick up the futon. I told him.
He told me that the truck wouldn’t make it that far, or the odds were pretty low. Joe-Pete asked me how much the futon was. I told him the price. He pointed out that I could buy a brand new futon on amazon for the same price. He was correct. During this time I had been emailing back and forth with the couple as far as the time I would pick up the futon. I was planning on coming around five pm on a Wednesday.
Their response was, “You know it will be dark then, right.”
Of course I did. But unlike 90% of the population in Maine, I worked normal office hours. I responded that I did realize this and I was anxious to come buy the futon as I had been sleeping on a cot. (Side note, the cot wasn’t that bad. But the combination of sleeping with my dog on the cot was bad. We both gravitated towards the middle, falling into an unknown vortex that had the effect of bending my body into half like a piece of paper by the time I woke up in the morning.)
The couple responded, “How can you sleep in a cot?”
I could sense the disgust in their response. How dare I sleep in a cot. Was I out of my mind? I’m not sure how they would have reacted had they known I was also living in a situation with no electricity or water. They may have had a heart attack and keeled over had they realized that I was living in a one room house, no, not ten rooms, and sometimes I shower in the sauna. I imagine this couple to be living in one of the huge foreboding mansions I see when I drive around in the small coastal towns near Belfast. They get their coffee to go at the local coffee shop and attend a Catholic Church on weekends. They only eat organic food, and shop at the farmers market. They both have puffy jackets. They enjoy skiing, but mostly in Aspen. They are from Boston and are retired living in Maine. They have three grandchildren named Pete, Beatrice, and Jack. They go sailing in the summer but they prefer their yacht.
I decided to buy the futon off of amazon. I ended up buying the Japanese futon as I wanted to utilize the loft in my cabin and to reach it you had to climb up a steep ladder. Dragging a futon up there with a frame would have been difficult.
I work with a Bulgarian scientist who is in the United States to keep his green card. He has virtually no people skills. I was explaining to him my living situation and how I cook with a propane stove and have propane heat. He said, “if your heat stops working the propane could keep on going and leak into the house and kill you in your sleep. You wouldn’t realize it until it was too late most likely. “ I had been pondering all of the ways I could die at the cabin, this just reiterated thoughts plaguing my mind. The next time my business partner office was in the office, I said, “If I don’t show up for work one day you should come check to see if I am dead.” He laughed. I said, “I am serious.” I was.
Ways I could die:
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (I have zero ventilation, especially in the winter)
Lighting the propane stove (for awhile I was using matches and it is entirely unpredictable how big the flame will be. Most of the times it’s large enough that it could singe my eyebrows off. Every time I light the propane stove, I think, “I’m going to die using this thing”)
Climbing up and down the ladder to the loft. One wrong move and I could slip and fall and land on a hardwood floor.
A serial killer (it’s less likely but I am in the middle of nowhere in Maine which is the perfect setting for a horror movie)
Poor ventilation while cooking, you hear about this all of the time in places like Kenya in the Masai Mara. Their huts are made of cow dung and when they cook sometimes the ventilation is so poor that it can cause respiratory illness and death.
Today I went to work at the Fraternity. This is the local store in my small town of Searsmont. I needed to charge my speaker, laptop, and phone. There is nothing to eat if you are not a meat eater so I ordered what I thought was two pieces of toast. The Asian woman behind the counter looked disappointed and asked me repeatedly if that was all I wanted. I reassured her.
I paid for my food and went to sit at a table in the corner. I settled in and my order of toast was brought out. Turns out two orders of toast means four slices of bread. Butter spread on the toast, generic grape jelly as a spread. I began working on a project as people floated in and out of the store. Some stopping to shop and others settling in like myself for breakfast minus the charging of various electronics.
I began to notice a pattern. Everyone coming into the Fraternity had bright orange hunting clothes on. They also were in groups of two or more. A group of three men and one woman sat near me. I could hear the woman talking about how she had started hunting with the men and how she had improved her skills over time.
People looked at me with curiosity, probably because I was not wearing orange. Another two men came in and sat down. One looked like Jax from Sons of Anarchy and the other man looked like a middle aged version of Burt Reynolds. They had both ordered a big breakfast and kept on talking about eating it. They also talked about how long it was taking, and how the guy that had ordered first’s food had come second.
Burt Reynolds kept on looking over at me with curiosity. Burt Reynolds also belched with no abandon after he started eating his food, several times. It echoed in waves through the small, cozy dining room. I could hear them talking about their marijuana plants and their plans to smoke after breakfast. I decided to leave once a group of clowns dressed in hunting clothes entered the dining room.
I was hungry around noon at work. My business partner said, “It’s about time for lunch, would you like to go to the hospital?”
When I first visited Belfast he had mentioned that the hospital was the best place to eat because they had organic food from farms nearby and it was inexpensive. Both of these things were true, although I would not say it is the best food. The Bulgarian scientist comes with us to the hospital often. He always uses a lot of ketchup with his food, which I find odd seeing that he often complains about how unhealthy American food is. Today he accidentally used Sriracha instead of ketchup all over his rice. To remedy the problem he poured an avalanche of ketchup over the Sriracha.
We decided to cook thanksgiving dinner for the misfits who have no home in Belfast. The deal was we could only eat a turkey if we hunted it ourselves. We’d also have to give the turkey a weapon to make it a fair fight, while we would not have any weapon at all. We would only be able to use our bare hands. There are plenty of turkeys around here, we didn’t want to anger them or be unfair. Since our plan did not yield a turkey, we had soup, potato salad, carrots, cranberry sauce, and a strawberry (made with non organic strawberries) pie with a picture of a turkey carved into it by Joe-Pete.
We had decided to eat at five pm. It was Emogean, Chris, the sauna builder, the Bulgarian scientist, my business partner, and myself. My business partner had been concerned inviting Chris as he talks a lot sometimes, and in inappropriate moments. Dinner started with a prayer where we all held hands and were silent. This silence felt like it lasted a thousand years. Finally we broke hands and began to eat.
People complimented the food, making pleasant small talk. Chris sings and sang a beautiful Italian song about the beautiful sun. Then, the subject of Native Americans came up and the massacre that had occurred on Thanksgiving. Chris took it upon himself to give us a ten year history of why this happened.
I started to look around the table. Everyone had glazed over eyes and were staring at their plates hoping that there was some sort of exit door that would open and swallow them up. I started to lose composure and found ways to leave the room. I was terrified of what would have happened if I burst out laughing. Finally, after getting up several times to go to the bathroom and clean,
I whispered to my business partner that I needed to go let my dog out and left the dinner.