Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgivings Past and Future

I've always been a nostalgic writer.  I've had three blogs in mind to write over the past several months, but here I am, writing on Thanksgiving as memories of past years and thoughts of the future fill my mind.  Plus, I have to do something--I woke up too early and am midway through making my layered jello salad and can't go back to sleep.  I've watched numerous you-tube videos with David Tennant and had previously finished all of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs books (sorry, Kate Morton--we can still be friends, but I have a new favourite), and I'm too tired to do anything productive like grade papers.

This year is my last Thanksgiving in my house and Thanksgiving isn't even at my house.  This Christmas will be my last Christmas in my house, but I won't have Christmas at my house either.  My house will go on the market this spring after I have packed away what I love into storage--about 20% of my belongings--and I will move on to the next phase of my life.  It was a very difficult decision for me, wrenching in a way, and there will plenty of tears shed during the next several months.  It's not what I want to do; it's what I need to do.  No one is pressuring me to sell my house, but no one is arguing with me either.  The impetus to do it came about both gradually and abruptly.   I have considered it in the past, but it was less than a week ago that a sudden awareness during prayer led me to believe it was time.

Allow me to wallow in past expectations for a moment.  Both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived in the same houses their whole lives.  I only knew my mother's parents, but visits to their house were the stuff of childhood memory.  I even wrote a tribute to my grandmother called "Over the River and Through the Woods."  Oddly enough, I wasn't that sad when my mother sold my childhood home.  The lilac and snowball bushes were gone, but I would miss the vine covered carport and the new addition of raspberry bushes and the jam my mother made from their bounty.  Of course, I was 40+ years old and it meant that she could move to Boise where one of my brother's and I live.  She was happy in her new residence and my children loved visiting her with great frequency (weekly if not daily).

I moved into the house I live in about 25 years ago.  It's where I lived when my last child was born.  It is where I taught preschool for some 15 years.  It's where my mother came to live her last few days of mortality.  A positive memory, if tinged with sorrow.  It is where my children grew up and every inch tells a charming or hilarious story of the joy of their early years.

This house is also where my marriage died a slow and painful death, where my oldest son spiraled down into depression and then addiction and where I weathered unemployment and my own days of depression.  Those events could have ruined any positive memories, but the incredible love I received from my friends and neighbors during those times made my house all the more loved.  With the divorce came an opportunity to re-establish who I was and as I covered my walls with hearts and flowers and pictures of children and grandchildren and hung lace curtains at my windows, my house became a refuge.

My property is covered with trees, rose bushes and dreams of beauty--and a couple of pet burial places.  Of course, I can't afford to maintain the trees, so my church family has paid for necessary removal of dead and dangerous trees.  My roses don't get enough sun or attention, so they aren't magazine cover material and the dreams of landscaping remain dreams one hot summer after another.  My neighbors will be happy to welcome homeowners with time, energy and money.  Which is the salient point of this decision.

When I took the teaching job in Hansen 3 years ago, it was not meant to be permanent.  One hundred and twenty miles from home is not a good commute.  This year I am living in my third weekly 'home away from home.'  For the third year in a row, I rent a room.  The first two years it was the upstairs and then the downstairs of an older widow's house.  She is very pleasant and was happy for the extra income.  This year it is the downstairs of a much older widow's house; she is also very pleasant and happy for my paltry company at the end of long days at school.

It turns out I like my job in Hansen.  It just doesn't pay enough to continue this lifestyle.  I make about $7,000 less than I did in Boise and Nampa.  Given rent, gas costs and the necessity of a reliable, comfortable car, I can't do it.  I borrow money intermittently from friends and family.  I pay it back, but it's embarrassing.  My house needs repairs that I can't afford.  Meanwhile, my cats have overtaken the place in response to being neglected.  They shed; they don't always use the litter box.  My son lives here part-time, but despite his best intentions, my house has become more and more dusty and cluttered in my absence.  No one comes on a regular basis except the ever loyal Farnsworths and I'm pretty sure they're okay with not having to worry about my frequent neediness.  I'm not even home enough for my grandchildren to hang out here on a regular basis.  I so very much wanted it to become a 'grandmother's house' where my family gathered, but that has not been the case and for many reasons will never happen.

But I digress and sink into a deeper than necessary pit of self-pity.  For, as is almost always true, there are plenty of open windows involved in the closing of this particular door.  First of all, I will be free of financial strain.  I plan to continue to be a gypsy during the week and live in rented rooms.  On weekends I will stay with my daughter, her patient husband and their adorable children.  Summers?  Who knows?  Maybe a week here, a week there.  Maybe Scotland in a year or two when I've paid off doctors, car loans and have a bit in savings.  And most importantly, I will be ready to serve a mission in a few years when I retire.  It has been my desire to do that since I was 21 and owning this house would have prevented that from ever happening.

Eventually I'll buy another house.  A smaller one.  Maybe I'll even have one cat to live there with me.  Up will go my lace curtains again, and out of storage will come the 20% of dishes and furniture I love and my grandmother's double wedding ring quilt.  And more memories will be made!