Monday, October 8, 2012

We're in deep

I knew Kevin had finally settled in California about two weeks ago when he put up his hang board and used it. I knew I had finally settled when I brought out my black and white cards and put them up above my desk.

It has been nearly three years since we moved back to California. In those few years, we have moved five times, lived with two sets of parents two different times for sixteen months, planted one garden, killed two lawns, and kept alive eleven drought-resistant potted plants. We moved here to settle, and the settling was slow, but now it is done. About a month ago we moved into our very own house. We own our own house. And because of family ties and generosity, no bank has a mortgage to wave in our faces. According to them we own the house outright. We are in deep it seems. And it feels good.

I'm not sure why this move feels so permanent, or prominent. Just before we moved in I got the hankering to transplant back up north--but still. I don't feel rushed to do anything. I can breathe. There is no dark cloud of doom hanging in the distance signaling an inevitable move. If we want to move again we can, but there is nothing pushing us. And we have no plans.


The sudden settle might also be because I've made peace with California. The fear of heat and dryness is gone. My body has acclimated. Gone also is the overwhelming rediscovery of home. I have acquainted myself with Northern California's seasons from the Valley, where I live, to the Sierras in the east, to the Pacific coast in the west. I have even gotten the feel for the microclimates, how the nights are nearly twenty degrees cooler twenty miles south-west and the soil more clay-based just two houses down. I am getting the hang of it, making the most of it, and finding out where I want to be in the process.

Life is so mirrored--faceted, clear and confusing all at the same time. Years ago I read an article of a woman who inherited a house on a bit of land with a lot of blueberry bushes. She hadn't ever planned to live in that area, selling blueberries and making flower arrangements from foliage in her adopted garden, but there she was, doing just that. She accepted her inheritance for what it was: a gift. And as we might recall, gifts are things we do not choose. They are given, and we either accept or refuse them.

I have kept that story in mind since I read it as the ideal situation. For one like myself, who abhors decision-making, regardless of how precise my dreams and likes may be, inheritance is some kind of wonderful.
This house we have is a gift, an inheritance. It is nothing I would have chosen, or dreamed about, or maybe even liked, but it is what was given, and we said yes. 

Kevin actually grew up in this house, and when his grandparents needed to be closer to family, they lived here. His grandfather died here. Not long after he was gone, we were asked: do we want the house?  And not long after that, we began to work. We planned, tested, painted, demolished, built, sanded, smoothed, caulked, nailed, scrubbed, stapled, sprayed, hemmed, hawed, wondered, dreamed, and delivered. And we did it all ourselves. We only hired out two projects: the floors to sand, stain, and finish and the stucco application for the ruined back wall. The rest of the work was done by a lively, dedicated, and now utterly exhausted family crew including both sets of parents, Kevin, me, my sister, my brother, his wife, my aunt and uncle, and, in some ways, Cedar.

Now this completely random 1960's house feels a little more like home. It feels a lot like home, with a mind of its own. Believe it or not, the house decided what floors it should have and how dark the stain should be. It decided the color of the walls. It is probably going to decide what plants I attempt in the garden. It may not be The Victorian. It may not be as cool as a tree house castle, or cottage. It may not have this view or this garden (yet). It is certainly not this unique, handmade, or efficient. But it the physical representation of how we have settled, meaning:  we put in order, we established residence, we accepted in spite of incomplete satisfaction, we restored calm and comfort.

And though I have images and ideas at the edges of my mind, and though they could be a threat to contentment, for now I am content, am settled--in deep--and I am not going anywhere fast. 


  1. I like it, sister!

  2. Congratulations! You sound superbly settled.

    1. Settled, mind you who have just moved, after three years. And this is a place I've lived before!