Oh, The Places We'll Go
Tales of a Tindominium #2 Before the dreadful winter of 2015, which I fully lamented yesterday ( http://www.missdemeanors.com/single-post/2016/12/19/Tales-of-a-Tindominium ), there was a wonderful season of daydreaming about how and where Steve and I might live if we were to let go. Let go of the beautiful house by the sea with its lush gardens and rooms filled with memories. Let go of lawn mowing, weeding, home repairs and replacements (We were no longer striving for “improvements”). Let go of real estate taxes, a mortgage, and a life that we had outgrown. Just pondering questions like, “Do you think the medical care can possibly be that good in Ecuador?” or “Would we be bored in Belize?” were more fun than we’d been having for a while. While we knew we’d love to spend winters in St. John where we’d vacationed for thirty years, wouldn’t it be wise to explore other destinations? We’d never been Florida people. The few times we went, we found it too crowded and busy for us, but reading about The Forgotten Coast made us reconsider. This stretch along the west coast of Florida was not part of the development madness the rest of the state experienced. Plenty of state parks and endless beaches prompted us to spend an October weekend there exploring. The beauty of the Forgotten Coast is unexaggerated, but it’s chillier than we wanted in the winter. Plus, we tried a test we invented to determine whether a location would work for us: Pretend it has been raining for four straight days and your eyeballs hurt from reading. What would you want to do? We quickly came up with three ideas. A movie, a bookstore, or a fabulous recipe to cook. Unfortunately, the first two were difficult to find and the ingredients for our make-believe jambalaya impossible to hunt down. No, we were not meant to be Floridians. The other question we deliberated, and we learned we really know how to deliberate, was where would we live during the summer months? I’d read a fascinating account about a couple our age who left New Jersey to relocate, not retire to mid-coast Maine. Notice, I’m not inclined to use the word “retirement” because I felt we were reassigning ourselves to new adventures, not popping into rocking chairs waiting to die. I had a ton of wonderful writing friends who lived in Maine, many between Portland and Belfast. Real estate was reasonable and cultural stimulation plentiful. Maybe St. John in the winter and Maine in the summer? We spent Steve’s birthday weekend in April exploring the area. Steve, who was an Eagle Scout, knows how to explore. Inch by inch. In three days, I’d seen every small town I’d read about, visited bookstores and galleries, and had the best croissants this side of Paris (Moonbat in Belfast). I saw a wide variety of homes ranging from cabins to Victorians to farmhouses, teasing my imagination about what it might be like to join the folk who live Downeast. In the end we were lured back to beaches, but this time to Outer Cape Cod, which had been our escape all the while we lived in Scituate. On a cold and dreary January Sunday morning, Steve might turn to me and ask if I’d like to take a drive to the Cape, walk the Audubon Sanctuary in Wellfleet where we used to camp, and then go for a bite to eat. The Cape had always managed to buoy my sagging spirits. Steve thought it might be the solution. We happened upon a tiny Sear Roebuck bungalow in Truro. By now, I had become a member of the tiny house fan club, so the size didn’t bother me and it was near a similar bungalow we spent a week in each summer. One with a screen porch where I would utter, “I could live here.” The house we were considering needed work, but I loved Truro. I could live there. It wasn’t meant to be. While we were clearing out the debris from our home in Scituate (a blog post in itself, if not a book), we waited for certain zoning conditions to be met and were constantly disappointed. Finally, with a closing date on Scituate on the horizon, I realized we had no place in Massachusetts to come home to after our first winter in St. John. More importantly, no place to come home to if we needed medical care, which seemed likely since Steve had been given a scary diagnosis. I panicked as I scrolled through the Outer Cape real estate listings, always starting with the lowest price, of course. Each time I would see the listing for a trailer in Wellfleet for sale for $25,000. There was even an article about it in Cape Cod Curbed, referencing $4 million dollar trailers in Malibu. (http://capecod.curbed.com/2015/8/24/9927554/wellfleet-mobile-home-for-sale). Steve would laugh and say, “We could do worse, dear.” It was located next to what we believe is the most beautiful Audubon sanctuary in the country. I would bristle and tell him to get more serious. He did. One day, as the closing date loomed and I was wailing about being homeless, Steve grabbed the car keys and said, “Let’s go look at that mobile home.” We did. I sat on the dated old sofa on a November afternoon and saw light beaming into the tiny unit. Outside skyscraper tall pine trees, just like the ones we camped under at the Audubon Sanctuary, swayed and danced. My imagination went wild with ideas about what I might do with the challenging blank canvass I was looking at. “I could do this,” Steve said to me. I knew it was an invitation. “I think I can too,” I said, accepting, knowing people might think us crazy, but exhilarated by changes we were ready to embrace.