We didn't mean for it to end this way. karma debt just wanted to own a vineyard.
We moved to the Willamette Valley because they offered her a scholarship. Our first house had enough space and enough sun for a small garden: just a few hundred square feet, supplementing our daily fare. The existing fruit trees and vines added some joy, and fueled our dreams born of yeast. An aspiring brewmaster took up summer lodging between semesters and we'd talk late into the night about varieties and recipes, swilling homemade perry. When karma debt finished her degree, we rewarded ourselves with 5 acres.
It was just as we'd pictured it: a large farmhouse, a large workroom over the garage for our studio, a small orchard, and room to run the dog. We planted grape vines, and watched them die. We planted again, more soberly, and they took. We had our vineyard. A college friend of KD's decided he didn't want to get a real job, so he moved in with us and helped us upgrade the basement fermentation room: big sink, tile floors and walls, lots of storage for carboys and the reagents of winemaking and brewing. We made some terrible beers and some decent wines, buying more and more of our products locally.
After Bella left us, during the mourning that followed, we took in her man as footman, butler, and man-at-arms. He was self-sufficient, but liked having kind folk about. Needing both lodgings and workspace, we took over the farmstead next door and remodeled the barn: rustic lodging, and another studio space with workstations for visitors.
Others came. My sister and her husband moved from Rochester, NY to a farm a few miles away. They went for full-out hippy permaculture, and I swear there's nothing they didn't grow in that amazing mess of a farm. A few local organic farmers met us for coffee (back when there was coffee to be had). Some of the seasonal workers stayed through winter to work in town, and we eventually built a few cabins on the property to rent out. I became a regular at town meetings, while she kept busy at a few co-op farms to pull in a bit more food we knew something about. We wanted to be healthy and safe. We wanted to know our neighbors. We held Hot Damn! 9 at our main property, and for Saturday dinner we had over 200 people at the pavilion.
The first few blackouts of 2016 were annoying, but we were meticulous about hardcopy backups and human-based processes. We stopped using the extra computers, and brought in fuel cells to store excess solar and wind energy. The local technology contractors left town for the windier but amenable Californian realms. All they found were IOU's and wildfires. More friends came from the East, including a band of about 20 with enough know-how and equipment to start a small power generation spread. Trading cider and bicycle parts earned us enough to keep doing what we loved, while the kind Willamette sheltered us from the cold.
As more of the world went dark, we clung to each other. New York, London, Mumbai, Beijing: the big cities used their might to command the last of the waning resources. Prices went up, then you couldn't find anyone to repair your lawnmower, then you couldn't find gasoline. Increasingly we only had power for lighting and gas enough to heat water. Sometime in 2021, we heard the global Internet had gone out, and we held a wake for it. We thought we'd be a computer commune, doing other things on the side. We had it backwards. Once we couldn't power our computers and had nothing for them to connect to anyway, we still had talents and a connection that burned brighter for the loss of our global minds. Our people were welcomed everywhere, even the walled city of Saint Lou.
We retained vestiges of the old site. Some nodeshells became phrases, then became maxims. Some editors were invoked as if they were gods. We kept our heads, enjoyed what we had, and told the children about the way things used to be. Some of the kids would tag along with me to visit what was left of Portland, to scavenge for useful things and worship Tesla, he who impels the machines, in one of the old generator stations. They know I don't believe in their gods; they let me tag along. Tesla could not save them, but they enjoy their post-apocalyptic life as the only life they know.
The great cybernetic metropolises never came back, not in my years. We had plenty of leftover machinery, thanks to a vibrant interest in bicycles towards the mid-century. The brightest children not working in food or water have studied the old books and know the mysteries of torque and of alloys. They may one day discover how to generate enough electricity to restart the lost arts of power transmission and of batteries. For now, we have enough. For now, we can grow and love and laugh.
We never intended for it to be this way, and yet we did. We loved each other at the depth of our souls first. Only later did we see glint of eye, strength of arm. We recognized speed of wit before we heard cadence of voice. We knew we'd be alright before we knew what was wrong.