As some of you know Dan and I will be renewing our vows of 30 years at Liberty con. Part of this is because we wanted to do it for the 25th, but we couldn’t being broker than broke and not even going to LC (if I remember.)
Of course, this is the way of the world, so we’re broke this year too. It’s temporary and more than usually self-inflicted because we chose to move this year to a rental and get the house ready to sell. OTOH it’s not entirely self-inflicted. Our other house is near a high traffic road, and our porch furniture gets covered in black sludge within 3 months. Given my particular respiratory issues, I think that is if not what has played havoc with my health for the last 10 years (there were other things, including a worsening condition now hopefully fixed) at least a strong contributing factor. Given that, we needed to move. But there’s more to it than that.
It’s starting to look like when the house sells we’ll be empty nesters. I have a bit of trepidation about younger son on his own, but it has been pointed out to me by his father that at three years younger than him I crossed half the world to live with strangers (and meet my future husband) and that sooner or later, even engineer-birds must fly.
I don’t know about other people’s lives, but our lives move in segments, from well established routine/setting to another with a brief, often terrifying trasition, where we often attempt to go bankrupt. One such transition was from childless couple in Charlotte, NC to couple with kids in Colorado Springs. There was some lag and leading indicators (Robert was born in Charlotte and was one when we moved here) but our life didn’t establish a new pattern/rhythm until we’d moved, a process that almost broke us. Same with our last move, between couple with little kids and couple with more or less autonomous and certainly self-explaining teens.
This is feeling like another one of those, and these transitions are needed in a way. They “reorient” you.
To explain, you get caught in habits that existed for a good reason, long after the reason is gone.
In cleaning this house and fixing it for sale, I’m coming across this a lot. For instance, when we moved to this house, I made a lot of my own clothes, a substantial amount of the kids’ clothes, as well as almost all of the household stuff (It’s been years since I took a sofa apart to re-upholster. I just realized that.)
This habit had been got into for good and sufficient reason, the reason being that we were keeping up with dual-income families on one income. This meant the person who rarely made more than 5k a year had to make up for a lot of the money she didn’t bring in. Refinishing, reupholstering, making most of our stuff, including things like slippers for the kids, were part of how I compensated.
Only this last move, to the house we’re now cleaning was also when my career started moving (sideways and upside down, as usual) so I not only had a lot of work, but I also, suddenly, inexplicably, found myself making about the same I would if I’d done what mom tried to talk me into 20 years ago, and finished my doctorate (depending on the college and the field I chose, between one and two years) and became a college lecturer.
The problem is, there were habits. Habits from the times mommy didn’t make enough to justify not interrupting her. Habits from the time when Sarah was, of course, the logical choice to spend all day looking for a missing paper.
Those habits proved almost impossible to break in that house. Here things have started shifting somewhat.
BUT more importantly, my mental habits hadn’t changed, so I continued picking up bolt-ends and other ridiculously low priced fabric, in the vague idea I’d use it for this and that. I haven’t because I don’t have the time to sew I used to. When moving I made the decision that other than some vintage patterns/fabric which I’ll eventually use to make myself clothes, I’m going to narrow my sewing focus to “making stuffed animals.” Mostly because so many of you and so many of my friends have littles, and adopted grandson ALSO totally needs a dragon a year to grow on. I still have a room full of fabric, which depending on arrangements at the next house might or might not need culling down. It also depends on where the next phase takes us.
It’s always hard to figure out what shape the future will have till you’re there. These transitions tend to have that “earth-shaking” feel and the boundaries of your quotidian life change in ways you couldn’t anticipate.
For instance, when we moved to Colorado Springs, I expected (and we looked earnestly at) a suburb like the one we’d lived in in Charlotte. Perhaps more rural, since we’d been looking that way before the move.
I couldn’t have anticipated a housing shortage, due to MCI moving to town, which shuttled us into a student apartment downtown, which in turn reminded me how much I liked walking neighborhoods and consigned us for the next 21 years to living in Victorians, in walking neighborhoods, mountain village and urban neighborhood. Which in turn shaped not just the texture of my everyday life, but also the boys’ upbringing. (For one since the age of six, they’ve been free to go off and buy their own lunch. At six, corndogs from an arcade stand in a little mountain village.)
In the same way I don’t know where we’ll end. I think we’re done with walking neighborhoods, or rather our definition of walking neighborhood has changed. You see, it used to be I liked to have enough stores within walking distance to force me to walk. Thing is, I’m now buying most such things (books, okay, mostly) from Amazon, and what entices me out is more likely to be a walk around the park with my husband. (Mind you, I wouldn’t mind being close enough to the museums in Denver to walk to them, but I REALLY don’t think we can afford that.) That texture has already changed, only we’re sort of caught betwix and between. But it has changed what we look for in another house.
Other things that weren’t a consideration when we moved last, are a consideration now. We’re in our fifties and the “winter” of life is still a little off, but if we live in the next house twenty years or so, it won’t be. So proximity to medical services and ease of ambulance reach are a plus. As is accessibility to an airport, because I’m getting right tired of having to get up at six am for a nine am flight. Not to mention the four am for a seven am flight. Kevin Anderson tells me I need to make more public appearances. I don’t like it, but I’ll assume he’s right, and in that case, ease of transport becomes a big thing.
We’ll of course be looking for something with a decent office space for me, and possibly husband together (we’re that odd thing, a writing couple who likes sharing an office.)
In my dream world, we buy something near friends, and we settle down to take a walk morning or evening, work the rest of the time, and share housekeeping duties. I take Sundays off, and read or sew. Oh, and evenings, I get to do stuff while Dan watches TV. I’m not “always on” and always late with books (though that is likely to be true, once health settles.) I know, it’s a pedestrian dream, but it’s mine.
I’m hoping to keep at least those outlines. The rest… who knows. The new pattern whenever it comes (It’s dependent on house selling, so who knows?) will have some surprises. And some of them will be pleasant or most will, once I change my mental parameters.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know we’re at an inflection point and from here on “things will be different.”
You can fight those, or you can embrace them. We’re choosing to embrace this one. The renewal of vows is our way of saying “this we’ll take with us. This we’ll keep.” And it is therefore important.
The rest… we’ll see.
If I don’t thank all of you who’ve donated — you made the room awfully dusty, and there’s a lot of you — I am grateful. I’m hoping the amount is enough to get someone else to redo the fence, and maybe, if we’re lucky, to fix the balcony. I’m now in the “cleaning and staging” phase in the second floor and older son is finishing painting bottom floor (he’s very good at it.)
If it all goes well, by Monday all the hard work will be done on the inside, we can pay someone to do the outside after we come back from Liberty con. And I can settle into at least a “trial” pattern of having time to write and spend time with my husband (even if the house will still take a thorough cleaning, and probably won’t go for sale for two weeks, because of contractors doing other stuff.) I’d like that. For one I want to finish Witch’s Daughter (Michael’s sequel to Witchfinder) and also Darkship Revenge and Bowl of Red (Shifters.) And then I want to do the dragon trilogy.
I want to write. I want to have time with my husband. I want to stop being carpenter and painter and jack of all trades.
And once the house sells, I want to visit my dad, because he’s 84 and time is running away from us.
It will come. Transitions are sticky and scary, but they pass. Just.A.Few.More.Days.
This too will get done. This too shall pass. And the future will be good.