The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Art of Moving, Part Two: Being Sure

When I left off writing about where I think I will spend the rest of my life, I wrote as the thoughts came - what Florida has come to mean to me and why I've come to love being here so much. I wrote again about the "rules" by which I've lived my life - those ingrained laws that inserted themselves in my brain while growing up which may or may not be valid. Not being well for a while, (I identify with the Matchbox 20 song, Unwell, - except in the song the person sees an impending breakdown while my "breakdown" is in my rear view mirror - and oddly, someone - my therapist - agrees with me!) I recognize that for now, being introspective, even being somewhat self-involved, is a necessary part to the way back from where I was. Bear with me, then.

I have decided to move from my warm and comfortable Florida home to Beloit, Wisconsin. It's been far from a snap decision, taking years in the making. Even so, I need to work through the decision process, because I will be going into the (nearly) complete unknown - a city I've only visited, never lived. I'd definitely have preferred that my daughter and her daughters and their kids moved back to Florida, mind you, but that isn't going to happen, and, upon reflection, I certainly wouldn't want them all to move here simply for me. They have lives there that are enmeshed with other people they love, places which are familiar to them, and enjoy as much as I love my Florida home. It just isn't realistic to expect them to come here. Jinger and her family tried living here - in fact, it is here Jinger met Tim. But she missed the people and places she grew up knowing so much that she was unhappy here. Choosing a place to live should always include the happiness factor.

And I am happy around my daughter and her family and their families. They make me laugh, they warm me with their caring, and I find myself in a place where I am actually wanted, (even appreciated!) and in a place that I am a part of when I am there. I remember even telling Jinger that her home had become "the home place" - Family Central. And with Dusty overseas and Taran traipsing around his elastic corner of the world, being in the one location where these wayward sons will naturally gravitate to be with family is a great selling point.

It sold me. And it is constantly reinforced. Just this morning I viewed comments added to a photo I posted on - one shot of last night's dinner - and there was my explanation, a comment from Jaime, my youngest (to date) granddaughter, a response from me, and a note from Jinger - a conversation - and the interplay made my day. It happens a lot like that on Flickr, and I enjoy it so much now because it is not an everyday event. Face to face interactions, of course, are much more rewarding. From this distance, these things remind me what awaits me when I do move.

One of the reasons this could not be a snap decision is that there has been a part of me that felt moving from Florida would be accepting a sort of defeat, that I would somehow be a failure if I left this place where I had cut out a life for myself and accomplished things I wanted to accomplish as a poet, as a member of the arts community, as a functioning member of society. When I recognize that the past several years since I became sick I have done little to further those causes of mine (and the longer one stays away from the artsy activities, the harder it is, as in so many things, to get back to it) I think perhaps starting out as the new person on the block may actually be easier. And Beloit, Wisconsin has a viable arts community. This knocks a hole in another of my hesitations for moving: While I love my family, my daughter and her family, my granddaughters and their families, and even the friends I made while visiting, I do not want to live in anyone's pocket. I want to be there where everyone else is, but I want to have my own life apart from them as well.

I can do that. Perhaps this is exactly the best time in my life to start over again, to one more time envision how I want to live (all right, the boots and scarves and mittens and sweaters aren't exactly what I want, but we'll consider it a trade off!) and work toward that. I have come to realize that I have attained a certain success here in Florida. If I haven't accomplished all I intended, it's because I'm not done yet. I can accomplish what I want no matter where I am, I suddenly realized. Yes -- I can do that.

And it will take some doing. I live strictly on Social Security Disability. I actually live quite well, all things considered, because I know how to live well on very little, and - quite honestly, I live better than many people I know who have more income than I - but who are owned by debt in a proportion I do not have. The problem is accumulating the funds to actually pack up those things I will choose to begin this new chapter of my life with me, and physically move myself there. Jinger has sent a list of places that offer the type of housing I will need - subsidized housing that has apartments designed for handicapped people with aid bars in the bathroom, that sort of thing. I have decided which of these to contact and as soon as I have a vague idea of when I can afford the move, I will make more solid arrangements with the one I eventually select to be my new home.

One thing I have pretty much decided: I will probably not take my car. Eventually I will find another when I settle into my new place, but Augie needs things (a back window, a few piddly repairs to the creature comforts - the blower motor, the radio, the cruise control (probably a fuse on the last two items - I have to check it out!) and -- I dread finding out exactly what - some front end work. Could be just the CV joints - a reasonable repair I can probably afford next month - but if it is major, Augie goes. Ideally, I can get him into trustworthy transportation shape over the next few months - it would be a good and comfortable way to travel, just me, Liberty the Cat, important papers and the computer and other delicate things, and the plants. But I am prepared to let him go. Getting him trustworthy for the trip (most of it freeway miles - a cinch if he is in good shape!) will cost money I could be setting aside for the trip itself.

And the smallest truck I can rent for the trip is about 12-13 foot moving U-Haul or its ilk. Pricey. I checked. But I understand that I can also hire a part of a BIG moving van, that it is actually reasonable in cost (whatever that is) and I will be looking into that in the next few weeks as I do what I can to accumulate funds. A friend looks out for small jobs for me - even negotiates a fair price - cleaning houses or designing/creating something to be printed, and another friend uses me as a courier, sometimes.

While the date (or even the season) isn't sure, I do know I am going. I am living my life these days with that in mind, disposing of things that won't make the final cut, acquiring only those things I will need later and making do with what is around me, knowing I will create an entirely new and different home when I get there. I've told Jinger I won't have any draperies at all, but for the sheer ones I love. I don't need any more than that here. Insulating draperies will be necessary there. She'll keep her eyes open for me, and if I am really lucky, when I am close to deciding which of the apartments on the lists are being considered, she may even tour them for me, perhaps with her camera, so I know better what I should shuck off here and what I will need to bring with me. I will need bookshelves when I get there, and probably a chest of drawers or two, a file cabinet, and a computer desk and/or a regular desk. I'll need cooking pots that don't have Teflon, so I can throw out the junky ones and give the better of these to people who have nothing. I will also empty out my pantry of canned goods before I leave, the excess going to the Emergency Pantry the Resident Management Committee keeps.

Usually, when my life has made an abrupt turn into change, I've been taken by surprise. This one will actually have a plan, of sorts. Lord knows it is well thought out.

As I write this, I get excited all over again.

I'll be 59 this summer.

I'm overdue for a new start.


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