On this blog, I will habitually offer some of these reflections from the past, intertwined with what is current. At the time, I was writing from an unshakable belief that if you are not laughing in the face of adversity and challenge, you are likely to be crying. Hilarity and joy are more profound than hopelessness, and I continue to cling to this belief.
Where it all Began; “Home is Where the Potato Pancakes Are”
There felt like very few options other than writing about the move to our small farm given our how our first days back in the Midwest unfolded. As we set out from Olympia, Washington to rural Wisconsin, I had on our cross-country trek my partner, best friend, and once when it was briefly legal in Portland, Oregon, my wife of just over 10 years, LeAnn. Our merry band of fellow travelers included two larger and loving yellow dogs of questionable ancestry, an angry and fluffy old cat and two of our best-est friends ,who we decided before our journey even began, had an automatic pass to a heaven of their choosing. Who, you might ask, would drive with these pets, two vehicles and a trailer across the country in the middle of August?? We couldn’t believe it either.
As we started to plan for our move back to the Midwest, several other major life events were taking shape. Our youngest child, a daughter, graduated from high school and planned to attend college in Chicago. Faced with an empty nest, the work and upheaval of moving seemed to be a reasonable approach to the pain of a quiet house. My dear mother-in-law was also giving in to dementia and we felt an urgency to get closer to her before she didn’t care or know who we were. Although we faced the daunting challenge of a housing market in crisis, we felt certain we had a higher purpose and that the universe would provide. The price we paid for our small farm was no doubt helped by the poor economy. But the money we lost on a house we lovingly remodeled to sell and help finance our move back was not. But again, we had good on our side, right? I will leave you to decide if this might have been “questionable judgement” at the outset.
Facing another Northwest winter after spending over twenty years facing them also motivated us as we put our house on the market. The garden was in, last minute touches added, and we were priced to sell. Most people are amazed to learn that in the horrible housing market of 2010 we were able to get a viable offer after being listed less than a month. It WAS an amazing house with an even more amazing kitchen. And as I said, the garden was in. We took a much lower offer than we would have ever imagined, made some fairly costly repairs, reminded ourselves that we were answering the higher call of family over money, and tried to remember that another family was moving in to enjoy all of the love and planning we poured into the place.
And we all know what “they” say about the best laid plans. It is true we sold our house in the timeframe we anticipated. We found a small farm that we could afford, despite our lackluster home sale. Our friends stepped in to help amidst their protests that we were leaving at all. Our daughter graduated and was accepted at her school of choice in Chicago. I had a job that I loved that I could do from anywhere. Things all seemed to be moving along according to plan with some minor bumps here and there. Nothing we couldn’t take in stride.
And this is where the story began; where it seems it should have ended.