When I sold my house, closed my practice, and moved to California, my life became tiny in countless ways. Today it shrank a little more, and with a bittersweet note that clings to the waning hours of this spring Friday.
Derek Campbell and Kelly Pipe-Campbell started their #tinyjourney in Washington. They spent a year building their home, then came south to be with Kelly’s family. By and by they made their way to Park Delta Bay, with their pup Ella and a rascally kitten named Louise.
Their house became iconic in this community. Its tall beauty graced G-Row. Its inhabitants did no less. Kelly’s sweet nature and Derek’s wide grin flavored our days. They helped start the weekly dinners which became our social mainstay. Derek hauled their game collection to the clubhouse and got us all in the competitive spirit.
I don’t think any of us would be as secure and stable in our homes without Derek’s carpentry skills. He started by leveling my house and others. Louis and Helix got a window. Tiles came to adorn the perimeter of my kitchen sink. Cupboards here and there took on a new sheen. Laurie’s house grew cozier with a custom build.
They toiled in our community garden. They did favors, and shared ideas, and talked about their lives and the challenges which they had overcome. I once came upon Kelly bent over a sewing machine, making new cushions for a couch that Derek was building for their home, so that Derek’s parents would be more comfortable. Kelly radiated patience as she worked. I envied her calm.
Derek and I had more than a few run-ins over political and social issues. But voices never raised in anger. He earnestly quoted sources that I later studied. He listened to what I had to say. I know that I irritated him with my liberal views. A couple of times, I backed down from a weak retort. But we stayed friends. More than once, he lifted me from the ground after I had fallen. When I got sick at the beginning of this pandemic, he brought me groceries. He would not accept reimbursement. He waved away my thanks.
We knew the day would come when their tiny journey would take them from our meadow. It does not seem right, as Noah said. There is a TinyHouseBigSky-shaped hole in our universe. But with the rest of us, here at Park Delta Bay, I wish them safe travels, fair seas, and following winds. Tonight I walk on a floor that Derek laid with Kelly’s help. I rest in a sitting room which Derek created. My neighbor Robin cooks in a kitchen with cabinets that Kelly refinished. Each of us can point to something Derek built. Each of us can tell a story about Kelly and Derek at Mei Wah’s, or sitting on someone’s deck at sunset.
When I walk in the morning, I will stand in front of the spot which they occupied for the last two years. I will gaze across the meadow into the tall willow. Perhaps a bird will rise into the blue sky. I will think of Derek and Kelly, in Montana, where the wild horses run. Then I will continue on my own small circuit, half as far as I am able, and then, back home.
It’s the eighth day of the seventy-seventh month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
Follow Derek and Kelly as their #tinyjourney continues: @TinyHouseBigSky