By Becky Mahoney
I’ve been adjusting to moving twenty miles away from the place I’d lived for the past 18 years. That’s the longest I’ve resided in one house, ever. I’ve called 35 different places home. Moss grew under my feet with this one, and by time the Universe finally decided it was time for me to get out of Dodge, my dream home had turned into a nightmare. While I slept fears coaxed a change to happen, soon, or else. I dreamt about jumping into my eleven year old red car with just a few articles of orange and lime green clothing, and a pair of flower festooned flip-flops. The credit card, the one with the largest line of credit left, was tucked into my tatty, ten-year-old bra. I’d drive and drive, until I ran out of road. I was exhausted trying to maintain my mini-mansion with little to no help, a declining bank account, and a body whose Wonder Woman muscles had shriveled and drooped under her armpits from the strain of the last decade. Hillbilly rich. That was how I thought of me. The little lady with the big house, a few fireplaces, many bathrooms and bedrooms. And, no landscaping, no paint job, no garage, no money. I just wanted to throw caution to the wind, cash in my responsibilities (that seemed all I had left anyway) and let it blow me, wherever. This pillar of tenacity (so others had named me) was really made of salt and crumbling beneath the waves of too many personal wars, back to back. I’m relatively good at dealing with what life throws my way, as long as it paces itself. I’d been pummeled and was overwhelmed and alone. Part of it was my problem. I might have given off the air of competence, wealthy widowhood, and an “I can do it myself” attitude. It was all a facade.
Then, the clouds parted, the sun appeared and finally, a house under contract. Hope rose up and there was potential for my escape without embarrassing the family by becoming a recluse with crazy hair, muttering to the squirrels in the woods out back. A loan process that should have taken a month or two, drug me down a side street away from my yellow brick road. I was going to earn my freedom! Six months now lollygagged off the beaten path before a closing date, the signing of papers, and a move!
I’d been somewhat proactive beforehand and searched the area for a little space on the planet to call my own. I did not need the deed to prove it. Although, I bandied about the idea of condo ownership to preserve a sliver of the American Dream. I wasn’t feeling very patriotic. My revolutionary freedom would show up in the form of a water heater breakdown, which in the past, left me crying in my cold shower. Now it would be just a matter of hours before the landlord would buy a new one, and install it. Downsizing to the life of a tenant, could take on a new meaning and that life would not include an extreme honey-do list, since I was the only honey at home, to do. I was done.
I found the perfect spot. Almost. Clearly it wasn’t time yet, for my Caribbean Cabana. Maybe I had to earn that dream and wait until I could coax the grown-up grandkiddies along with me. They truly are more important to me than soft, warm sand, and an ocean with a view. My little slice of rental heaven, half the size of my old home, had a garage, (something my old red car hadn’t witnessed in 18 years) and came with an invisible handyman. Lucky girl!
I have great neighbors too. Everyone is deceased and resting peacefully in a lovely cemetery with plenty of walking paths. There would be no noise pollution; late night fights or personality clashes. Just angels, keeping watch over me. That’s how I look at it. A three bedroom setup is icing for me; one for me, one for my desk and treadmill, and one for the guests I knew would want to come to sleepovers and enjoy their Zen-meister Mimi, Mom, and friend again. My living arrangements are perfect. Some say, home is where the heart is. I think that’s only partially true. I’ve left pieces of mine and carried with me a myriad of memories at 36 different locations now. I think home is where your peace is. It just feels right and for now, I am enjoying every delicious, carefree, moment of it.