I like to think that my life, in a collective sort of way, has meaning. That I've been moving forward. By moving forward I don't necessarily mean in a straight line, or in the same direction all my life just for the sake of some physical goal, but moving forward on a path that is right for me in a more spiritual sense. I like to think I'm doing okay, more than okay in some subcategories of life, but to an outside observer it probably looks more like I'm just a pinball, randomly bouncing around, hitting a few high score spots, but not particularly in charge of the game. Some days, like today, it feels like that might be closer to the truth than is comfortable to admit.
I'm pretty sure that most of my mood is just an extreme arc on that great big hormonal swing on the playground, but that doesn't mean it's not real. It's still my thoughts, just taken to an extreme. Some of it might be the season too. The end of summer always makes me feel reflective and a bit melancholy. The garden has reached it's zenith and now it's just a matter of time before summer finds a boundary of frost thrown at her feet, autumn standing tall and strong proclaiming "You shall not pass. This time is mine." Or perhaps it's the wind that's been blowing hard all day. Wind doesn't just toss the leaves in the tree tops outside or rattle the garden gate, it also gets inside my head and tosses my thoughts and rattles the dreams that cling to my bones. Like Vianne in Chocolat, the wind makes me restless.
One of the triggers for my mood is that my hubby and son are stirring around the idea of buying some more property. Hubby convinced me of the value of buying retirement property (for either building on or reselling, we're keeping our options open) a couple of years ago and I spent the better part of a year running around making that happen. It was a productive year and I'm glad for it now, although it was exhausting both physically and emotionally and I experienced it in the moment as a detour from where I was originally headed at the time. So now here we are, a bit farther down that path, winding and curving, and for all the decisions that were settled upon and made, I find myself walking into a whole forest of new ones.
We're in the deciding if we're deciding stage at the moment, but it's still a lot to think about. Do we buy property for investment purposes only? Do we buy property with the idea of having a Plan B for the future? Do we, and this is the one hubby seems to be particularly fond of, buy here in our area with the idea of selling our current house and moving in the near future, the rewards being that we can live in a nicer house now and have a home with more investment value for some undefined future time?
Can I point out that we (I) haven't even finished fixing up the house we live in now!? And can I point out that I seem to be the only one that has any interest in or takes any pleasure from the actual work of fixing, decorating, and remodeling. Further more, I need to point out that you'all know how Speedy Gonzales I'm NOT when it comes to projects.
Hubby's vision of the plan starts at "We can buy this great property in the woods" and then jumps pretty much immediately to "And the new house will be so pretty!". You do see how there's a CAVERNOUS HOLE there in the middle of things where a long stretch of reality - making this house saleable and working with banks and escrows and the building of a new house - isn't mentioned!? I suspect the reason he doesn't mention this middle part is because he has already assumed it will all be taken care of by someone other than him. In other words, me. In fact, the only extra bit of information hubby throws in to the argument, as if this tidbit will sway me immediately is - "And we'll have enough property to buy some goats!" (Because a chihuahua isn't ENOUGH to tie us down!)
However, as ludicrous as I'm making it sound, there is some logic hidden in the idea. Particularly since we have a son who BUILDS HOUSES and we could take advantage of this to the benefit of all concerned. So, I'm considering things. I'm pondering. I'm musing. One of the options here is to put my hand palm up in front of me and say NO, but I'm not ready to do that yet. I don't want to dismiss the idea without checking it for nuggets of gold. And, despite my bossy persona, I do take this whole "marriage is a partnership" seriously. Hubby's dreams and goals are as legitimate as mine. Besides, if I don't really think it through, if I put my foot down, it won't stop hubby or son or the world at large from conspiring to do it anyway. "And we can get chickens too!" Sigh.
What I've done about it so far is to spend time revisiting, in my head and on the internet, all the places that I've lived and/or wanted to live, which has led me to two conclusions. The first conclusion is that this is where last time I realized that the only way to really see property is to DRIVE there. Great if we're talking fifteen minutes out of town. Not so workable if we're talking Wisconsin. Workable but time eating if we're talking northern California.
The second is that this only serves to shine a spotlight on my old time companion - the question of what I want to be when I grow up. Or perhaps it's time for a makeover for my old friend - The question of what I want to be after I'm done being a grown up. There. I like that better.
Mostly what this whole argument has done is dredge up old memories and rekindle old dreams and make me feel all circle-y and overwhelmed again. Here I was happily setting all that confusion aside so I could live in the moment, bloom where I'm planted and so forth, make short term goals, and suddenly folks are throwing long term decisions at me and saying "It's up to you."
It's up to me. The bigger picture. Hubby thinks of property as Pretty or Not Pretty. Factors like distance from a large city, jobs, weather, accessibility and so on aren't really things he sees. He makes decisions first and then decides what to do with life on the other side when he arrives there. Me, I have to think of all the possibilities and roadblocks ahead of time. I don't just see Pretty or Not Pretty. (Oddly, when we're traveling, it's just the opposite - hubby wants to plan every last detail whereas I'm happy to limit the planning to simply picking a direction and taking off!) I think of where I live as defining, limiting or allowing, who I am and what sort of lifestyle I will live. I think of the world around me as an extension of who I am. So, for me, choosing a piece of property also means choosing the things I will do on that property. Or not do. I can't get dressed to go somewhere if I don't know what I'll be doing when I get there - am I going to be getting dirty, should I put my gardening clothes on? Is it a party? Do I wear a dress? - I can't pick out a place to live without knowing what I'll be doing when I'm living there because picking out a piece of property for me is too interwoven with picking out who I want to be.
The other day Sam mentioned that an area just north of him near Shasta Lake is still affordable. "Let's move there!" hubby suggests instantaneously.
"We can't!" I reply.
"Why not?" he returns, seriously.
I yell "Because you work here! And you can't retire yet. You can't commute three hours one way can you?" He looks unimpressed with my argument. "William goes to school here! All his friends are here! He's first string on the football team here!" He just looks at me as if I'm arguing minor little issues. He's not big on letting reality get in the way of his enthusiasm.
I'm really glad I recently went up to check on our retirement property in Oregon. Driving through the area and once more feeling like I was in a place that felt like home, makes me feel like I've got a plan in place. It grounds me. And despite plans for future relocation, we are, for the time being, most definitely rooted here in our community.
But I will probably never feel 100% rooted, no matter where we ultimate choose to settle. I've spent a lifetime wandering and living and growing in many different and unique places. A few of those were so inhospitable that I moved on without a backward glance. But most of those places were fertile enough for me to put down roots and when it was time to leave, a little bit of me was ripped off and left behind. There is magic everywhere, but the magic is unique to where it comes from. The north woods, the desert, the ocean, the city, the country, the mountains, high desert, small town, the lake, the ridgetop. I carry my own magic with me of course, my own center that is separate from location. But I've felt and mingled my life with the life of each place I've been and can't forget. So many places will forever sing to me, trying to call me back, when the winds blow in from the right direction.
The future has just as many different locations in it that also call to me. Just because they're all just potentialities at the moment doesn't mean I can't hear them. Even unformed, I already love each and every possibility and already mourn the fact that some will not come to pass. My daughter-in-law and I daydream about having some sort of herb farm or business together. Although I am serious in wanting to create what we are now only fantasizing about, I also know that I can't know what the future will hold, what opportinities or obstacles we'll have to work around. I want to be near my family but I also want to be in a place that feels like home no matter who moves near or far, because that's what happens in the real world, people scatter and reform and then scatter again. I want quiet and starry skies and room to stretch out but I also want community and energy and possibilities. We aren't in an income level where those things are affordable for us as a package deal. I know I can't have it all.
So it all comes down to choices. Upstream or downstream? Over the bridge or under it? Follow the scents blowing in on a southern wind or chase the northern lights? Stay put and let life flow past? Or jump from rock to rock and see where it leads? The only choice I'm willing to make at the moment is to get off the computer and go take a shower. Later - make some sort of choice about dinner. After that, it's all sort of up in the air. The wind is still blowing.