The caboose-sized flower shop at the end of our old block had the habit of throwing out odd furniture from time to time. Once a Plexiglas showcase adorned their alley, then the huge steel frame of a Wielder resistance weight training machine, then a giant busted fish tank, another time there was a stack of old magazines that nearly reached the roof, then a water bed and a pile of stuffed animals. It was the stuff you'd see behind huge tenement buildings on rare occasion. The appearance of these objects was odd, intriguing and potentially useful. I kept my eye on that alley.
The bus seemed immense at first, and from the exterior still is but when you fill a space with the structures and forms which we define as comfort and necessity, it shrinks, lots. I had put up the front and rear walls, filled them with insulation and covered them. My world began to shrink. I started to lay-out lines for more walls, smaller. I walked to the front, picturing the raised seating, the desk, smaller.
Kirstin had been saying she wanted a bathtub in the bus since the beginning. I'd been ignoring her for just as long, hoping that if I didn't say anything, didn't happen to find one, she'd forget about it. "She's busy with the kids, she'll forget," I thought.
"We're getting that bathtub, " she strode into my workshop, "The kids are napping and we're getting that bathtub."
I looked up from my work, "Uh?"
"There's a bathtub in back of that flower shop down the street."
We walked the half-block to the back of the flower shop, me dragging a skateboard.
"You know bath tubs are heavy, it'll throw our weight off..."
She looked at me.
"Alright, but if it's cast iron, it'll be too heavy and we'll have to leave it," I prayed for a defect, a rusted-out bottom, a crack running down the middle...
I had already made the back wall deep enough and was setting-up the second wall five feet away so the tub would sit snugly between. Five feet is a lot of space when your whole house is twenty-eight feet long. The average household tub uses 30-40 gallons a fill, where's that water coming from? How much does 30-40 gallons weigh?
A bathtub just seemed like opening a can of grasshoppers, we'd spend so much time figuring out the details the bus would never be road-ready. Besides, it seemed totally out of line with the aim of simplifying our lives. I had to convince her it wouldn't work.
We reached the back of the flower shop. I affected the manner of appraisal, squinting, looking hard at the tub. The damned thing was stamped steel, rigid and light. I looked for rust. None. Even the drain fixture was in good shape.
"It looks pretty good," Kirstin knocked on the gleaming white enamel surface which issued a "Bong".
I exhaled, "Haahhhhhh, yup."
"Alright," she lifted an end and pulled the tub onto the skateboard, "Push."
We rolled the tub down the sidewalk, Kirstin smiling at neighbors, me pouting.
Before building the second wall, I went to the back of my in-laws' house to check the tub one more time. Maybe there was some defect I had missed, maybe I didn't have to waste all that space. I pulled the tub up out of the snow, nothing, the enamel shined at me in defiance. I dropped it, climbed the back stairs to the kitchen, grabbed the door handle, maybe I could convince her... Through the window I saw Kirstin and the boys. Jack was playing on the floor, she held Sawyer to her chest while bouncing to appease him, her neck was loose, head drooping. Her form showed nothing but exhaustion in the warm light, everything about her slumped. Sawyer, our second boy wasn't sleeping and neither was Kirstin. She'd taken on the bulk of raising the boys while I worked, either out of town or on the bus and her job never ended, it showed.
I let go of the handle and headed back to the bus. Maybe I could figure this tub thing out.