EPISODE #73

Love Yurts

When my friend Perry gets his mind set on something, he goes big. Like the time he went as scissors (in a rock-paper-scissors trio) for Halloween and he made blades for his legs that could really cut. His girlfriend Caitlin was the rock. She just stuffed some newspaper under her shirt.

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Caitlin and Perry were college sweethearts. Years later, they eloped in Vegas.

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Caitlin says the ceremony at the Graceland Wedding Chapel was much more serious than she’d expected, and it gave her the giggles. Perry kept it together though.

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Perry and Caitlin became grownups together. But they kept fighting about the same old stuff they’d fight about when they were 20.

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After an unplanned pregnancy and miscarriage, they found it hard to be around each other. Perry wanted to talk about whether or not they’d try to be parents; Caitlin couldn’t bear the thought of talking about it. Perry wasn’t sure if he wanted to be with Caitlin anymore. He needed to figure it out. So he went big. He signed up for a course at the Boulder Outdoor Survival School in Utah, where he spent two weeks hiking through the desert with just a knife, a cup, and a blanket. He slept in caves, made fire and shelter, and trapped his own food.

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Perry liked it so much at BOSS that he quit his high-paying job to go teach courses there. He built himself a yurt, all tricked out with solar electric lights and a trap-door wine cellar. And he and Caitlin decided to get divorced.

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The next time they saw each other was at our friend Ravinder’s wedding.

This is what Caitlin looked like.

This is what Caitlin looked like.

This is what Perry looked like.

This is what Perry looked like.

But then, a few months ago, I emailed Perry and asked him how he was doing, and he said he was great. That he was going to spend some time with Caitlin and they were going to try to have a kid together. Of course, I had to know more. So I called them to find out what was up.

NOTE: This show includes an update to the original episode, which ended in a cliffhanger. I don’t want to give it all away, but hint below:

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Are YOU raising kids under unusual circumstances?
Tell us all about it. Down there, in the comments.

Photo of Caitlin dancing: Jameson Brown Photography

13 thoughts on “EPISODE #73: Love Yurts

  1. I’ve loved listening to this podcast every since I found it. Two summers ago, I binge-listened every morning while hiking in the hills above Salt Lake City with my dog, Gus. This morning I listened in the dark, misty fog while Gus and I walked through the quiet streets of my neighborhood. It was good to hear an update on Caitlin and Perry. I wish them and their little Sebastian all the best as the begin the grand adventure of parenting.

    I do want to mention that I was a little bummed to hear the way Caitlin’s brother was introduced as, “Her 14 year old adopted brother.” It immediately created distance between her and her sibling – at least in my mind. Maybe this was intentional. Later when he goes to a state run home, did I feel less empathy for his situation. When Caitlin and Perry talk about adopting, it is a reason not to pursue a child in that way.

    I know this wasn’t intentional, but it struck a chord in me. Our oldest daughter is adopted. She has two younger brothers. I hope that they never refer to her as, “my adopted sister,” even though it is obvious because she is from Nepal and they are from… well, two white people.

    That’s my perspective. Now it’s time to get some kids up, make some breakfast, and get on with this foggy day.

    Keep up the great podcasting. I’m glad you’re back.

    1. I agree, Rachel. I, like you, tend to be sensitive to phrases like “adopted sister,” “adopted son,” etc. Perhaps this is because my sister’s family is a mixture of biological and adopted children, and I don’t think of my “adopted” nieces and nephews any differently than I do the nieces and nephews who share my blood. I am head-over-heels in love with all of them. In this story, I guess it was necessary to mention that Caitlin’s brother was adopted because, as you said, it affected her choice not to pursue adoption herself. But I do wish he’d initially been introduced as her “brother,” and the adoption part could’ve come in later when it was pertinent to the story. Just something for people to think about!

    2. I felt similarly. I thought this was a lovely episode, and I’m a fan of the show, and think it does a terrific job telling stories about families and about parenting. But as the parent of a child who was adopted, I felt uncomfortable with the description of Caitlin’s brother as her “adopted brother.” I don’t call my son, my “adopted son,” nor do his cousins call him their “adopted cousin.” I often listen to episodes of the show with my kid and I would have felt protective of him to hear another person described this way.

    3. Hi, Rachel. I’m the Perry from the story.

      I was sorry to read that hearing the way Hillary introduced Caitlin’s brother as “adopted” created a distance between them for you. For a lot of the time we’ve been together, Caitlin and I have been closer to him than to any of Caitlin’s other siblings. And if I read your comment right, I’m also sorry that knowing he was adopted somehow caused you to have less empathy for his situation – that certainly wasn’t intentional.

      Isn’t it unfortunate that the word “adopted” can have a negative connotation when it actually means to be chosen? Caitlin herself, born 6 years after her next oldest sibling, lived with the running joke that she was a happy accident – unchosen. I think you’re right that Hillary used “adopted” intentionally, but as a narrative device not to imply distance. It helps explain the larger story of how at 28 and with a mother in her mid-60s, a 38 year old sister, and 21 year old nephew, Caitlin took in her 14 year old brother. As an indication of how close the family has been, each of Caitlin’s siblings have been his primary care giver at different times in his life, including now.

      The story of how Caitlin’s brother came into her family as an older child with developmental, physical, and mental delays who didn’t look anything like the rest of the family is significant and would command a lot more space than I can devote to it here. I do believe it deserves not only attention but also some reflection about what it means to make that kind of commitment. To suppress the fact of his adoption is to deny his experience. And if we reserve the word “adopted” for those who mean it pejoratively, then that’s the only context in which adopted children will hear it.

      I understand that the word “adopted” can be a trigger for some parents, so if it makes sense for your family, I also hope that neither of your sons refer to their sister as adopted. But based on the thoughtfulness of your comment and how you seem to be raising them, I believe that if they do they’ll do it with pride and love and respect.

      – Perry

      1. Thanks for the reply Perry. That was very kind of you to respond and I understand how difficult it can be to consider all angles and “get it right” in the telling of a story when you have limited time. It didn’t turn me off of the story, you as people, or the podcast for the future.

        I will definitely listen to that Moth story. The Moth… another podcast that keeps me company on long walks.

        All the best to you and (both of) yours.

        Rachel

  2. I’m confused, I’m halfway through the episode and it seems like the same story as a previous episode. It seems more like it’s telling the story again than giving us an update. I’m a little bewildered here.

    1. Hi Crystal,

      This episode contains the full original story with an update at the end. We apologize if this wasn’t clear!

      –Abigail, LST producer

  3. I really resonated with Perry and Kaitlin’s story because my husband and I also kept putting off that “kid” discussion. yes? no? We stayed in limbo for years. In fact, on the afternoon before he asked me to marry him, he asked me if I wanted kids. I was unsure, and said so. We agreed to let it sit in limbo, and then quickly agreed that we wanted to own two dogs! (Which we did do!) It took us 10 years to finally have conversations about children again. And it wasn’t a pleasant one. I decided I wanted a child long before my husband was ready. It was agonizing to have these conversations. It was so nice to hear that Perry and Kaitlin had similar issues, and that they, like us, struggled to move the conversation along. We had our son when I was 41. And we couldn’t be happier as parents.

    1. I definitely relate, except we had a “no dogs before kids” rule. I thought, and I think Caitlin did too, that for us a dog was a way to avoid the kid conversation. Now that we have a baby we’re finally talking about a dog again.

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