Moved Again

Dear diary, it’s November 21, 2021. I recently moved. It was an in-town move, so not too tough. I moved a lot of stuff with a rental truck and a two-wheeled tilting hand-truck, but had movers for the furniture.

A little over three years ago, we showed-up one day after driving over a thousand miles – we needed a place to stay. Our prayers were answered when we found ourselves living in a 2-story top-floor condo. Financially, I only expected to live there for less than two years. Yet, we lasted over three. I’m not sure why, but we randomly received some checks in the mail. We seem to come into enough money to scrape by when needed.

Then all of a sudden, the owners of the condo (I was renting) wanted to sell. It was an investment-property that didn’t pan-out and they wanted to cut their losses. I barely have enough money to rent, let alone buy, so purchasing wasn’t an option – therefore, I started packing. We ended up staying another four months.

A guy bought it and said we could probably stay until the middle of next year. But very soon afterwards, he re-listed the property for sale. And soon after that, he told us we had to be out by the end of this year. Your classic “kicked out for the holidays” tale.

To be fair, I didn’t mind leaving – I had a significant portion of my stuff packed anyway. It was a nice place and I would’ve considered buying it if I had the resources, but I’m fine with something different. The new place is a bit smaller though, so fitting stuff in has been the real challenge. The entire dining room was packed with boxes for over a week – but it’s almost empty (closets and cabinets are full though).

Well, that’s what’s been going on dear diary: dealing with a limbo-like living situation, unsure about where to live and what would happen. I was quite dissatisfied. So what could I do when all I saw were external problems? Turn inward. “When surrounded by darkness, should you not seek a light?”

I meditated a lot. Three times per day, about twenty minutes each – morning, afternoon, evening. I wrestled my mind, trying to remain calm. Then one day my wife came home and said she toured a condo for rent – and here we are. It’s nice enough, not as spacious, but it gets the job done and probably fits our family better for now.

Tiny Homes

I’ve been living the tiny house lifestyle for about five years now. I spent about $60,000 for a gently used mobile domicile that sits within a tiny house village. The village charges a rental fee (about $400/month) that includes the land, fresh-water, and sewer. I’m a bit extravagant so I picked the 2-bedroom / 2-bathroom model that is a whopping 1000 square feet. It has a porch, a shed out back, and central air-conditioning. The house also boasts a full-size kitchen with dishwasher, roomy bathrooms, walk-in closet, and a laundry area with washer/dryer.

As a child I would go camping in a motor-home with my family, so this place feels palatial compared to that. Even compared to the typical suburban house I grew up in, this house doesn’t feel all that small. It’s a long little single-story house that takes about 30 seconds to walk from one end to the other at a slow pace. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind a little smaller. As far as the appearance, it’s a bit too modern for my tastes, I’d prefer something more quaint.

I primarily picked the house because I liked the general location, plus I was under financial and time constraints. Taking everything it offers into account, I really couldn’t find anything comparable at that price range. My neighbors are okay, but they’re not the young hip folks you’d expect, they’re more of the older retired type. It’s quiet here, except for the occasional leaf-blowing in the fall and snow-blowing in the winter.

In some ways it just feels like an extended camping experience, which is something I was fond of growing up. Unfortunately though, the scenery is not the same, it’s pretty much like any other neighborhood, cars passing through, no water view, and no biking or hiking trails right out your door. I’d definitely prefer either a campground-like or even a story-book-village-like setting. But really, that’s a complaint I’d have about any standard neighborhood.

So if designing a tiny house village from scratch, I would probably make small-family models between 600 and 800 square feet arranged in a pleasing pattern so as to maximize space and privacy. All the models would be quaint little cottages amidst walking paths and gently rolling hills — kind of like a golf course. Perhaps cars are parked in a lot on the edge of the village hidden by shrubs. Ideally too, it’d be an eco-friendly place filled with gardens and ponds and lots of shade trees.

Looking Back

What is life, but a collection of memories, or rather cute little stories we tell ourselves. In the past, I would have painted a much bleaker picture of life. It’s the same life, just described differently. But why focus on faults over that which elicits amusement? Happiness is just that, fond remembrance of life.

Racing Stripes

Mom, can you drive me into the city to meet someone I met online? It was an odd request, but she said yes. I was to finally see the person I met in a text-based chatroom nine months earlier. It was late summer and my friend was coming from out-of-state to attend college orientation. We were to meet within a particular building, but nothing more specific than that. Having only ever seen a childhood photo, I stood in the large open area of that building and waited, scanning the students walking by.

Finally, after some initial testing was complete, classrooms started opening up, more students were filing out. Wearing jeans with what appeared to be thin racing stripes running down the legs, was someone that looked kinda familiar. This person walked over to what appeared to be parents, spoke briefly, then proceeded alone down a hallway, possibly to the bathroom. The chase was on!

I followed, and when I got close enough, called out a name. It’s me, I said. A smile. It was exactly who I was looking for. We chatted briefly, but I don’t know about what. The father came around the corner and seemed slightly agitated and said to hurry up. My friend and I parted, but I was excited, happy. I went down the stairs and found my mother in the parking garage and we went home.

It wasn’t too long before college started and my friend came back to move into an apartment. Having spent hours and hours chatting and phoning, we were finally together, face-to-face. The couple of weeks before school started, we were inseparable, even spending one night in the car. We’d walk hand-in-hand on the beach at sunrise and get bagels at the nearby Dunkin Donuts.

Love at Fullmoon

As a child, I had acquaintances through osmosis — gradually built casual friendships with classmates that only lasted within the confines of school. Weekends and summers might have been a bit lonesome, but I had my TV pals. So when I entered college, with its quicker pace, these casual relationships never formed, making for an isolated experience.

But during college, the Internet started to become popular. It was the days of 28.8 dial-up with its modem squeals and squawks. And there were free trials galore to the various online services: Prodigy, Compuserve, and America Online. A primary component of these services included “chat rooms” — real-time text-based chat amongst twenty or so people from all over the country. And part of chatting included the ability to privately chat with another individual.

For someone unable to initiate face-to-face friendships, it was an amazing experience. I was free to say (or type) whatever I wanted. I could experiment, be outgoing, and if it didn’t pan out, I could change rooms or pick a new person to chat with. I could instigate lively conversation amongst entire rooms of people, then chat one-on-one with whomever I chose, delving deeply into their thoughts. I had a way with typed words that I didn’t have with spoken words.

So it’s no surprise that it was by this method I sought the love of my life. I had an urge for close companionship, a best friend, someone to spend my life with. And so it was, on the night of a full moon, I stumbled into a chatroom and someone’s words caught my attention, I followed up in private chat. We emailed, we phoned, mailed letters, nine months went by. Back then, photos were mostly sent through the actual mail — and only after many months did I even see a glimpse: a photo of a small child at Christmas — that was it. That’s all I ever saw until the day we met face-to-face in the hallway of a university.

Youth at Hillside

I spent almost three decades at Hillside, my childhood home. My father, an under-educated immigrant from the rural north, ran a small esoteric business in the construction industry. My mother, a secretary from the suburbs, worked part-time in various offices, answering phones, filing, that sort of thing. My mother’s mother was a proud proper lady from the city, she pronounced “paw” and “pore” identically, and “bathroom” like “bahthroom” — but life wasn’t so kind to her and she ended up raising her children without their father, and moved in with us early on. Her sons and their children didn’t fair so well either, some with tragic ends.

My parents were disinterested in being parents, which was fine because they were horrible at it. I spent most of my time at Hillside in front of the television, so the fondest memories come from when I wasn’t there. We had a motorhome with which we’d go on trips to campgrounds, I’d be free to run around and do whatever I wanted, no more yelling, no more ceaseless cigarette smoke, just out and living life. I never wanted to go back home when it was time to leave.

For some reason, I had always imagined I’d join the family business when I was older. I suppose I got that impression from TV shows and businesses with “Father & Son” in the name. It was always my fall-back plan when I thought about education and careers and such. I even worked there for a bit, first in the back-room: loading and unloading trucks, forklift driving, prepping products for delivery and installation — then in the office doing computer / IT Administrator tasks: ordering, installing, configuring, networking, troubleshooting. But when my father retired, the business was gone.

Even though I disliked Hillside, it was bearable by the end, and I had no motivation to leave. But with my parents retiring and moving to another state, Hillside was leaving me. I had no ties to the area, not friends nor career — in three decades roots never took hold. So without reason to stay, I simply followed my parents to their new home, to the land of enduring heat and humidity.

Retreat at Westchester

The retreat to Westchester was a frustrating one. A child again, dependent on parental figures, a house full of people. Plus it was a mess, so I spent the early months just tidying and fixing things up, even to the point of renovating one of the bathrooms — new toilet, sink, floor, everything. But I suppose it kept me busy and feeling accomplished.

This particular region seemed odd though, disjointed and in decline. Certain stores were in the next state over, and many groups of people occupied the same space without intermingling, all very distinct. There were fancy little towns with nannies strolling children to the ice cream parlor, ghettos, dilapidated suburban neighborhoods, cities with corridors of giant buildings.

As far as what I liked, that ice cream parlor in the fancy little town was within walking distance. I also went to a lovely old cemetery filled with lots of prominent names — and walking around large scenic cemeteries is an underrated activity, it’s very serene. I also went row-boating on a small lake, something I always wanted to do. And of course it was nice not to worry about money, all food and supplies were paid for by the relatives.

But money could not buy happiness. No matter how much I tried to adjust to the surroundings, this wasn’t home. I wanted to go back to the previous place, the one that felt more like home than my actual home ever did. So after 12 months, I had an irresistible urge to leave immediately, but how could I afford it — so I did what any spoiled child would do, I called up my mom and was able to secure the funding for a gently-used single-wide mobile-home in a pleasant little trailer park near the beach. She had some spare change after my father passed.

Winter at Kelly Cove

Upon reaching the first state with falling snow, I felt a sense of relief, a sense of homecoming. But there would be no actual house to return to, it had long been sold — I was in the land of enduring heat and humidity for almost five years. And truth be told, I hated that house, hated the town it was in, I even hated the entire state — so I kept driving. I passed the offramp to my old home feeling a bit empty and homeless, but also relieved that I’d never see it again.

A new state, a lot of snow, a little cottage on the water, it was serene. Cold, but it felt like home. I dressed in triple layers but loved it. Small town life, much smaller than I was used to — the furniture store was also the electronics store. And nearby, was one of the quaintest towns I’d ever seen, but to be fair, the hamburger I ate gave me diarrhea.

It was at that time I tried my hand at becoming a YouTube sensation. I purchased some toy figurines, wrote some scripts, and spoke using different voices while wiggling them in front of the camera. It didn’t pan out. After my unsatisfactory time in the software development industry, I was a bit burnt-out and distraught, so I was trying something new.

I was paying for the trip with money I had saved up, but eventually winter ended — and when snow lessens, prices increase. I searched for places to stay, extending my visit for a couple more months, each in a different town, but as summer encroached, it was inevitable — time to go. So I retreated, off to yet another state, to stay with relatives.

Labor of Celebration

It was hot, too hot, unable to step outside of the house hot — it sure didn’t feel like home. Having only lived in a four-season climate, this two-season climate was bordering on unbearable. That is, until a little drive revealed something unexpected. Non-palm tree lined streets? Neighborhoods with varied-looking houses? A lack of disrepair or poverty around every corner? A small and active downtown? It was like being home again. It beckoned.

The tipping point happened one night at the new house. In the kitchen, an odd feeling developed, “let’s go to the bedroom”, I insisted, unsure why. After sitting in the bedroom for a bit, a helicopter was heard overhead, then its spotlight shined through the bedroom window, then the side-gate slammed open, barking dogs running through. It turns out, someone fleeing the police was hiding in the lanai just outside the kitchen, I must have sensed the disturbance.

Living out a scenario from COPS was unpleasant, so I was determined to move to more genteel surroundings, scouring the want-ads until finding a suitable listing: computer programmer / software developer / coder. A work-at-home position uniquely fitted to my skill-set, providing the necessary income to move: Mission Accomplished! And with that miracle, I rented a small apartment in that quaint little town. But with palmetto bugs galore, leaf blower alarm clocks, and cigarette smoke pouring in from below — paradise didn’t last long. But a quick in-town move solved those problems — upgrade!

I worked non-stop to support this upgrade, it was a really nice place too, a separate office space, screened-in balcony, a pleasant view, a bathroom as large as a bedroom, walking distance to in-town restaurants, and it was down the street from a popular global travel destination. What more could one want? Perhaps the lack of a Global Financial Crisis.

Maybe just a coincidence, but the variety of work seemed to lessen around that time. And what was available, didn’t feel right anymore. Business relationships soured, and like that, it was over. My father also died, not that we had a great relationship, but prior to the move, we had been housemates for a few decades. Things kinda felt odd for a bit.

It’s kinda weird losing a parent, it’s like being next in line or something. I grew a beard and started drinking a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon every night with dinner, perhaps I became an adult at that point. But either way, the last of those three years was all down hill. I packed everything away in a storage unit and moved back to a four-season climate. Snow, oh how I missed you!