Getting into gridlock with my dad
My dad wants to live off the grid.
He doesn’t seem to realize, as a senior with more than a few health problems, it just might not be the greatest idea to move into the middle of nowhere and live in a place that requires chopping firewood, hauling fuel to fill up the generator, and plowing your own snow. Even then it’s likely some winter weeks will be spent in complete isolation, waiting for a big thaw and completely dependent on whatever is in the pantry for survival.
Personally, I like the grid. As most of you know, I used to live in Bow Island, Alberta, which is about as far off the grid as I ever want to get. Granted, I was a three-minute walk from the IGA and even closer to my office door, but the town itself is about 1,700 people strong. I remember one day asking my son where he went for lunch, my brow furled, giving him my best stern look.
Dallas (my boy): Geez, mom. Are you were worried I was hanging out by the Laundry-mat, smoking? Or maybe behind Huck Finn’s (a local gas and confectionary station) with the really bad kids??
OK, it’s a bit embarrassing, but maybe I was. Trouble in a small town isn’t like trouble in the hood. There everyone literally knows everyone, and if your kid has the chutzpah to steal a drag off a smoke at noon, by noon and a quarter you can bet someone’s mom is calling you to tell.
Here, whether you live in the hood or not, your child is facing more extreme situations. It’s actually kind of terrifying and a pretty good argument if you’re like my dad and want to get off the grid.
But the thing is, I like people. I like having the option to pop over to the 7-Eleven at three in the morning and grab whatever I think I need (when it’s a typical insomnia night, sometimes the only thing I really need is a few minutes of company). And, even though I don’t go to Mickey D’s after midnight, I like having the option to do so if I so choose. I also like malls, delivery drivers and public events – like the annual Christmas tree lighting. I like the grid.
I don’t like hauling firewood. I did that with my dad growing up, and it makes me cranky. I don’t like stoking the fire at 2 a.m., but you know what I like even less? Not stoking the fire at 2 a.m. and waking up with the edges of your blanket frosted to your bed. Now, you’re nice and warm (well, except maybe your nose), but you know that’s all going to end as soon as you find the guts to slap your feet on that cold cold floor.
And I particularly hate hauling water.
I like taps. Call me spoiled, but I like water that comes from a hot tap and a cold tap. On demand. I like thermostats. Turn it up when you’re cool, turn it down when you’re warm. I like driving several blocks when I unexpectedly run out of milk, not traipsing out to the barn and getting way too up and personal with old Betsy. In fact, I am terrible at milking a cow. It just seems kind of rude, somehow, and while I’m apologizing to Betsy for my interference with her lady parts, her tail is swinging and she’s staring at me with a look that makes me question whether or not she’s a true vegetarian, all I want is a friendly milk carton to cling to.
I’ve told my dad all of this over and over again, but he thinks I’m either teasing or crazy. He just can’t imagine a person wanting neighbours and the hub-bub of city life. For him really living means being as close to the natural world as possible.
I respect that, and though I love the natural world, I know I also love creature comforts.
So me and the grid? We’re likely to be friends a long long time.