Right now I’m living a pig and chicken life.
The term “pig and chicken” may confuse you, as it was coined by a small band of world adventurers more than a decade ago.
Once upon a time, when I spent a chunk of the summer with all of my belongings tucked into a backpack and my camera in a seriously stylin’ fanny pack, I spent some time in Tunisia.
I like Tunisia. It’s a lovely country filled with mostly lovely people. I didn’t like the men who grabbed the bums of the women in our group because we were risqué enough to go out in public without head coverings, but the majority of folks we met were very, very nice.
(Like the guy who saw me sweating profusely with a bright red face and helpfully told me water won’t make the heat of spicy red sauce leave your mouth. I now pass the tip on to you — next time you accidentally drink salsa or rub raw Habanero pepper on your gums for fun, skip the water and head toward the milk. It cuts the heat every time!)
The Tunisians I met were very practical people. Living in a non-industrialized, non-glamourous country will do that to you.
Not only were Tunisians friendly and helpful, ready to play a pick up soccer game in the street at a moment’s notice, and lacking any concern about body odor, they also “made do” with a public transportation system.
In fact, their questionable looking and sounding “maxi-buses” were hard to miss as they rumbled down the road. These people-mover-style vans were usually built to seat 24 people and filled with 50 bodies. (Personal space seems to be a relatively foreign concept to the Tunisian culture.)
Because everyone was sitting on top of one another and wedged together like a can of sardines, luggage got tied to the roof of the maxi-bus. And up there, among old suitcases and cardboard boxes doubling as travel bags, were laundry baskets filled with poultry, pork, and practically anything else you can imagine or consume.
After glimpses of many, many smoking maxi-buses with small livestock tied to the roof with scratchy twine, we began to call the mass transit system “pig and chicken.” The term represents something very practical but not necessarily pretty or polished.
We’re living our own version of pig and chicken these days.
Today Lizard and I were joined by some friends and went to work on creating our back yard. Yes, we’ve lived here for more than a year and are only now getting a formal back yard… don’t judge.
(Who wouldn’t want their children to use storage units as play areas or talk to the people in the parking lot of the fast food restaurant on the other side of the barbed wire, chain link fencing as they bounce on their trampoline?! Oh, wait… that would be me.)
Our world is not one of champagne fountains, chocolate bon bons and caviar. Truthfully, it’s not even a world of Starbucks and Macy’s. We’re living practical, simple, non-beautiful life these days.
It’s pig and chicken. Form over function.
After a day spent creating living space out of forested jungle, I can’t describe how happy I am to be moving toward a more traditional back yard, but I also recognize the time spent in pig and chicken land has been good.
I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Most importantly, I’ve come to realize that life… it isn’t always polished. Sometimes it’s tied together with cheap twine and precariously hanging on to a vehicle belching black smoke and filling the air with wheezing noises of mechanical angst.
But the lack of illusion — delusional beauty? — in no way takes away from the ability to enjoy our surroundings… if my attitude is correct.
That’s a pretty huge lesson. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn!
Have you had a season of life where things weren’t “Pinterest” beautiful? What lessons did you learn from the experience?
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