It’s still early in the morning, and I feel the warm glow from last night’s powerful concert with my women’s choir, Yala Lati. The lyrics and harmonies flow through my heart and mind, along with memories of looking at all the beautiful faces of women I’ve come to know and love over the past 5 years. I barely slept for most of the five hours I was in bed last night. I wanted to get up early since I only have until 9 am to be completely moved out of my Santa Cruz house, and the lists of things to remember, the going over of any possible thing I may have forgotten to do, the visualizing of how it will all fit into Wanda, and the recurring memories of cramming everything else I own into my new 9’ X 12’ cargo trailer kept muscling their way into my mind. How can I possibly still have so much stuff??? I step out my front door, the last load of cleaning items in my last wastebasket and dog beds and jackets spilling over my arms, and dump them into the pile next to the gate where I can load it all into my van.
As I’m walking out the new owner’s guys are carrying supplies in to start sanding the hardwood floors. They showed up 40 minutes early. I’m sure they had no idea how stressful that might be for me—they’re bright-eyed and smiling, as if this were just another normal day, not the day where I say my final goodbye to a house I’ve molded to suit my family and me so perfectly these past 20 years. It was only three years ago that I finally saw the completion of the bathroom remodel I dreamed of for a decade before. And just four years since Dan and I finished expanding and remodeling my favorite bedroom. I breathe deep, reassuring myself that it’s all going to work out fine.
My empty house–free of color, clean and spacious, ready for the next phase of family life…
The guy I called two days ago to take a final load to the dump pulls in the driveway, and greets me warmly as he looks over my unwanted items to give me an estimate: a warped folding table (the one that used to host Thanksgiving feasts, but has only served as a place to display yard sale items the past 2 years), the rotten garden benches I’d planned to fix, some scrap wood, carpet remnants from my shop (the ones that provided a welcome cushion to stand on while building hundreds of stained glass windows), two small garbage cans full of odds ’n ends, and a collection of well-used buckets. Then I show him my huge workbench that I was not able to give away. He told me he could dissemble it in 5 minutes with his sledgehammer when I discovered my drill bit wasn’t long enough to unscrew it. Ouch!! One of the hardest parts of all this has been letting go of valuable things that I couldn’t find new homes for, and adding them to the landfill. Each day I lined the sidewalk next to my mailbox with more things I decided to let go of: a mirror, an office chair, baking dishes, plywood, half-full bags of mulch, an ironing board and iron, cleaning supplies, bedding.… Everything disappeared with in 24 hours. I loved listening to people call out “thank you” to the air on the other side of my fence. Boxes of books were picked up as donations to the local library. I made four trips to the dump to deliver rusted gallons and pints of paint to the hazardous waste station.
As I let go of more and more from my former life, I feel a greater sense of abundance and connection to others. My very personal stained glass window, the one I made after my vision quest over 20 years ago, is now hanging in Anne’s living room window. My plants line the entry to her front door and hang inside her lovely home. My air bnb bed is at Nancy’s and my fountain is at her sister’s. My round mirror is at Yum and Desiree’s. I have a chair and outdoor benches at Kathy’s and women in my choir have some of the clothes I haven’t worn in awhile. Every time someone stops by I offer things I think they might be able to use. I feel a sense of my essence spreading out and distilling in, feeling the generous one inside me glow with satisfaction. This is the way I want it to be. This is how I want to experience life.
And then I look back and forth at my piles and at Wanda, wondering how in the hell this is gonna work….
The past two months are a blur. I tried to fit in seeing friends to say goodbye, singing with my women’s choir, attending trainings with the Hendricks Institute and working on the curriculum, going to weekly writing classes, and getting in a little exercise here and there, with buying a cargo trailer, deciding what to pack and what to sell, and feeling out what’s next for me. I almost bought a house in the Port Townsend ecovillage, realized I didn’t have enough money, then considered buying with another woman, but finally decided I wasn’t in love with the house enough to commit to it—and admitted I was in no position to make any major decisions about my life. I turned care of my cat, KC, over to my tenant, Maura, who fell in love while caring for her when I was traveling in August. With each responsibility and attachment I let go of, I felt lighter and more joyful.
Abundance to Poverty and Back to Abundance
I didn’t get as much money as I’d hoped for from the sale of my home. Stories of bidding wars and wide-eyed friends telling me I was sure to get close to a million dollars fueled a fantasy of riches coming my way, and when I realized I was going to let go of that dream and accept less than what I thought my house was worth, I suddenly felt despair, as if my whole life was falling apart in front of me and I was going to end up old and poor on the streets, unable to ever own a home again. Then I learned that I would have to pay capital gains tax on the profit I made since I bought my house, even though I owed more than half what I was getting and there was no adjustment for 20 years of inflation. I assumed that if I bought another house I wouldn’t have to pay taxes—that assumption was based on old tax laws.
I cried on and off all day long, adjusting to the idea of a life of poverty after envisioning abundance. I did adjust, and soon reinstated my sense of gratitude for having more money than I’ve ever had, but I vowed to do everything I could to be sure I keep as much of my nest egg as possible, which meant I didn’t want to pay monthly fees for storage. So I came up with the idea of buying a cargo trailer and finding someplace cheap or free to park it until I figure out where I’m going to live next, and selling it after I no longer need it. I thought I could surely find someone with a truck to help me pick it up, but that didn’t happen so I ended up renting a truck and picking it up myself. I felt a surge of pride as I hoisted my short-legged self up into the seat that seemed to be above my head and strained to peer over the steering wheel of the giant full-size Chevy pickup. Backing into my driveway took about a half hour of blocking traffic without anyone to help me see where the trailer was going, but I squealed with delight when I did it!
Half full and almost full–not how I planned it, but it did all miraculously fit! Now I wish I could go back and get rid of about half of what I kept. Next time…
Moving it into my neighbor’s driveway after it was full was another adventure. I had arranged for the guys that helped me move everything into the trailer to back it into my neighbor’s when we finished, but after they looked at the long, narrow driveway they decided they weren’t experienced enough to feel comfortable, which left me with two days to find someone else to move it. I asked several friends with trucks, but they were either out of town or didn’t answer right away, so I began to stress. Was I going to have to try to do that myself? Yikes! I tossed and turned all Wednesday night, finally waking at 4 am and relenting to being awake until I figured this out. I mentally went through my contact list, trying to think of who I hadn’t thought of yet, when suddenly my old high school friend, Delise, popped into my head—her husband’s a tow truck driver. Maybe he could do it! I texted her at 5 am and got an answer later that morning. It still took us two days to move it—even though I had a perfect driver, neither of us had the perfect truck and he ended up moving it to the beginning of my neighbor’s driveway with a huge long-bed tow truck. The truck didn’t fit across my road so he could back straight in, so we still had to move the trailer back by attaching the tongue to a dolly and pushing by hand. It took 5 of us, but we got it nestled nicely in place around 10 pm Friday night. Whew!! I am so blessed to have such generous friends!
I am constantly amazed at how my path is unfolding in a unique back and forth, up and down roller coaster ride with many forks and no obvious clues as to which one to take. I think I’m finally believing that when I get clear on what I want to create, I can sit back and let the Universe work things out for the highest good of all, including me. This self confidence is new. I like it. A lot!
Completions and Freedom
After hanging around Santa Cruz three extra nights after the concert so I could do some banking business, notarize my living trust, re-pack Kira’s storage unit, shed some of the excess stuff that ended up in my van in the frenzy of moving out of my house, and celebrate an incredible concert with the Yala Lati angels, I planned to say goodbye to Santa Cruz and head south to the desert where I will land with myself and hunker down for a winter of reflection and writing. I managed to squeeze in some lovely walks on the beach, dinners and a bike ride along scenic West Cliff Drive with dear friends (a couple of them very new friends—funny how that happened right before I move away), going out for one last meal at my favorite tiny breakfast nook at the end of 41st Ave., and spending a couple of hours writing in one of my favorite coffee shops (this is something I always fantasized about doing in retirement, even though I’m not a coffee drinker…). I made a few stops to buy last minute items that aren’t available where I’m headed: organic produce, high quality dog food, fresh oysters and fish, a few supplements, and one last yummy coconut cream tea latte from Gayle’s Bakery.
Footnote: The featured image at the beginning of this post is a dream collage I did around New Year’s almost two years ago, when this journey of transition began for me. A part of the collage got cropped off from the upper right when I uploaded it to this site–it says “This is Home,” on top of a background of tree trunks, flowers, and a jaguar. As I look for a new home now, I realize home is in me–it’s with my good buddies Riley and Pickle, and the friends I choose to spend time with, and most importantly it’s in the natural world. I think my collage states clearly what my intentions have been and symbolizes much of what I’ve explored these past two years. I found it tacked to a wall in my shop as I was moving out. I smiled with delight as I realized how powerful this activity was for me!