…woke up at 4 a.m. and started writing. No deadline. No subject matter in particular. Just the rumblings of life.
Maybe it’s the wind. There’s a turbulence, a change, a danger lurking in the moon-lit, cloud-filled sky. Something new. Something old. Are the raccoons foraging in the backyard stream? Is that homeless guy camped out in the perimeter of the property? Will my prescription glasses ever turn up or is it time to throw in the towel of hope and order a new pair?
My sister and cousin are moving. My non-impulsive sister informed me last week that she’s in escrow, selling the family homestead and relocating to a pricier zip code I fear she can’t afford. House rich, day-to-day poor. She’ll have a Room With An Ocean View, something she’s long wanted, but selfishly, I know she’ll be harnessed to ensuring that she’ll now need to work longer and won’t have the funds to retire and horse around with me. My cousin too. Why would anyone want to work longer, enslaved to the responsibilities of paying for house expenses when you could be free and exploring? Less house, more freedom is my goal.
My sister’s decision has caused a seismic shift in my family’s world.
So here I type at 4ish a.m. trying to understand, turning the kitchen table upside down.
Thursday the Realtors arrive with their cameras and drones. This weekend, the house I grew up in, Grandma and Grandpa’s beloved abode, goes on the market.
It is her right.
Change is good.
At some point, it was going to happen. When she got sick. When she died. Closing shop on the Family Home is inevitable. It’s either in your control while you’re healthy and fit or it’s up to the relatives when you can no longer make decisions or you’re dead.
I admire the fact that she’s made a decision. I truly do. She is indecisive much of the time. The opposite of impulsive. But this decision, from the outside looking in, seems rash and not in her best, long-term interest. She’s never even walked in the house. She doesn’t know what she’s up against remodel-wise. The house is on a Main Street, much more hectic than the one she lives on now. But it has an ocean view. And neighborhood standards that dictate the color you can paint your house and whether or not they’ll grant permission to change the landscape.
Definitely not for me. Just the idea of a committee telling me what plants I can put in or take out makes me want to rebel and create a flamingo pink Disney jungle scape.
My sister’s vision about how she wants to spend the rest of her life is vastly different from mine. And that is the essence of what’s bothering me. It’s not the house. It’s the view. Which has always been different. It’s what caused us tussles as children. It’s what made me feel insecure. She was always right, always the thinest, the smartest—Mom’s favorite–who has been the protector of the Family Home almost her entire adult life. And now at 62, she’s about to literally close the door on decades of memories and move on. Whether it’s the right or wrong decision, time will tell. The fact is, she is shedding the old for the new, something I never, ever, as in EVER, thought my little sister would do. Change seems so out of character.
Which leads me back to my inner stirrings, my own longing to be closer to the sea, more aligned with Nature.
Am I not seeing the forest through the trees? Currently, I live two blocks from the beach in a historic cottage. My family and friends are close by, along with the convenience of living in suburbia. Maybe I have everything my heart desires but have been too distracted by the fantasy of change to notice.
What is it that I want?
Roots. And Freedom.
Love. Purpose. Discovery. Regeneration. Joy.
Can I experience these feelings while staying put? Of course. Is it my mind that needs to change rather than the venue? Yes, my mind definitely needs to change—no matter where I live. But this longing to be free isn’t a fad, it’s real. To be unburdened. To be porous. To have my limbs be as flexible as my mind.
It’s funny how a person’s view of life changes. When I was a kid, my sister, cousin and I would play Barbies, our kingdom stretching from the den, where my sister currently spends sleepless nights, into the hallway and sometimes into the kitchen where Mom percolated her preferred Maxwell House coffee. Our ever-changing plot consumed us for days. My sister was always the surfer Barbie, my cousin, the stewardess, and me, I liked to drive the Kleenex box convertible and cook food. Nothing has really changed. But looking back, my sister was never the homebody like us. She wanted to be in the water bodyboarding or skateboarding. Being tied down to crewcut Ken was never her thing. The accoutrements of homeownership were Mom’s thing, not hers. Which makes sense: The House on Paulina was our immigrant parents’ dream, a sign that they really made it in America, an accomplishment that never would have happened had they stayed in their tiny English village.
What we inherit.
My sister and I would likely never been able to afford to live near the beach had it not been for the generosity of our parents. We are rooted here, in our own homes, because of them. But our inheritance came with strings never detailed in their will: their hope for us was that our lives would be better than theirs, that our homes would bring us joy and peace and attract love and provide a sense of fulfillment.
With the sale of my sister’s house, maybe as soon as next week, our parents’ legacy has certainly been honored. She has been a good and loyal caretaker. She did our parents’ proud. But perhaps now, her burdens will lessen.
At the end of the day, or at 4 a.m., we need to know that we are all in the process of doing the best we can do, that we’re on the path we’re supposed to be on, heeding God’s will, and having a bit of fun along the way. One foot in front of the other.
Whether I like it or not, agree or disagree, my sister is about to take flight. Three, two, one—TAKE OFF!