what we agreed to that day was a cheap monthly lease with option to purchase. that granted us the use of the two street facing retail spaces, a grimy little kitchen, a bathroom no bigger than a closet with a tiny plastic shower stall, and the back office of the barn. it also guaranteed us first right of refusal to buy the barn, and every month's rent went toward an eventual down payment amount. for two kids as strapped as us, who already owned a house in a city five hours away, it was perfect. we were buying time, time to unravel our life in portland, and time for larry and jane to move their belongings out. the adventure begins.
we started right in. if i was going to eventually live in this barn, the place needed some serious help. there are the things i remember vividly, gutturally: years of other people's grime like thick rubber, coating the stove and fridge and kitchen floor, barely functional. the sink filled with old dishwater and a solid layer of dead flies. fly poop, tiny waxy brown dots coating everything. rotten spots in the floor which had broken through. more cobwebs, thicker cobwebs than i've ever seen. a pungent smell wafting from the floor in the heat of summer, maybe a snake's nest or something dead. termite blooms, dancing around the lights to lose their wings and disappear into a wall. at times, the filth was nearly impossible, inescapable. i cried, i toiled, i screamed. it's a miracle i didn't lose my shit completely.
we worked hard to make it feel like our place, even though half of the barn was filled with mass quantities of other people's boxes. the back room, once filled with plat maps and files strewn about from an alaskan gold miner who had abandoned an office there, became our bedroom. we installed a little caboose stove, vacuumed and dusted the corners, added a foam mattress and a rug from a garage sale down the street. we painted the gallery walls white, washed and dusted what were the old paint shelves of the hardware store, moved some furniture around, gathered as much art as we could muster, opened for business, and had our first show. i was having my struggles with the idea of moving away from portland, and was still living there half of the time to make money doing art jobs to keep afloat. as spread thin as we were, we were making a go at it, our best shot, at the beginning of a life in edison, an artful life, a small town life, best as we could with what little we had.