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My Muddy Valentine: Sometimes Love Means Getting Your Hands Dirty

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By Tim Curfman

My husband and I are staring with bugged-out eyes at the sight before us: our new 38’ x 14’ cedar log cabin sitting in the middle of the road, just waiting for a UPS truck to explode through it. My Fitbit buzzes, notifying me that I just achieved a new peak heart rate.

Jim, my husband of 20 years, stomps over to discuss the situation with the delivery foreman. Jim is respectful and even-tempered, but still manages to convey the fact that we’re not happy.

How did we end up in this situation? Jim and I own a vacation-cabin rental outfit in the rolling hills of Washington County, and have gone through the agony of overseeing 11 on-site construction projects during a 10-year period. But somehow, we neglected to build a cabin for ourselves.

This cabin was supposed to be a 20th-anniversary Valentine’s Day present to each other—a place to call our own. It would be constructed off-site, trucked in, and BOOM, we’d have a new private cabin tucked away in the woods.

That didn’t exactly work out as envisioned. [See photo, above] The delivery guys couldn’t get their semi through our gate, so they had to unload the cabin onto the road. They would then use giant forklifts to move the cabin to our build site.

It seemed like a reasonable plan, except that the forklifts could barely budge the building. We spent the next five hours participating in a grueling tug-of-war between the cabin and the forklifts as they dragged it forward, inch by inch, across 300 yards of gravel road.

Jim is chain-sawing back tree branches that are scraping the cabin sides and I am running around with a shovel, knocking back mounds of dirt that are building up along the skids of the cabin as it gets dragged and twisted and bounced around. Heavy equipment groans nearby, and the chance of a loss-time accident seems high.

A visible curl of steam is now rising from the top of Jim’s head. Our eyes meet, and a secret smile creeps across my face. I also know that we’re going to laugh about this later. Maybe much later?

Jim flashes me the tiniest of smirks and then turns to face the foreman with a dark expression. They plan the next maneuver that will nudge the cabin a bit closer to its final resting place.

Slowly, painfully, we wrangle the cabin to its destination: a cleared section of woods that has unfortunately turned into a mud pit because of recent record-breaking rain. The forklifts sink into the soft ground, and we drag out sheets of plywood for them to drive on. Darkness descends, and we finish the project in a nightmare of mud and floodlights and concrete blocks.

It’s over. We drag ourselves to another cabin we’re staying in. My shoes are soaked and Jim looks like he dug himself out of a mudslide. We slam down hastily mixed cocktails, take long hot showers, and throw away pairs of unsalvageable jeans. As we collapse into bed, I turn to Jim and say, “So, honey, how was your day?”

We laugh and we sigh and we look into each other’s eyes, and somehow the whole experience feels comforting. After being with Jim for 20 years, I know that it’s going to be okay. Even if the damn cabin cracks in half during the night, it’s going to be okay.

Somehow these insane little adventures (four house remodels, 12 construction projects, and endless landscaping improvements) have served to strengthen our relationship. We know that we can depend on each other. We know that we’re going to see it through. We know we can survive anything as long as we have each other.

When I look back on the last 20 years with Jim, it seems like my life really began when we met, and everything before that was just waiting and prepping for what would be the most important part of my life. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been amazing.

The next morning, Jim and I wake up to sore muscles and creaking joints. We pry ourselves out of bed, get dressed, and hobble over to see our new cabin in the daylight. The cabin is beautiful, and the damage from yesterday’s move looks superficial. Everything can be fixed.

I know that by Valentine’s Day, come hell or high water, the cabin will be fully furnished and fully functional. We will sit on the front porch of our new home and look at each other and say, “Happy Valentine’s Day, baby!”

But next year, maybe we’ll do chocolates.

Tim Curfman contributed the article Do or Diet to the January online edition of OutSmart magazine. He and his husband, Jim Rolewicz, own and run Scenic Hill Vacation Cabins in Brenham, Texas (scenichillvacations.com). Read all of his OutSmart articles at outsmartmagazine.com/author/tim-curfman.

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Tim Curfman

Tim Curfman is a frequent contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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