Last month my husband and I moved from Florida to Colorado.
Just eleven words, but those eleven words represent a thirty-five year journey that took me from New Jersey to Delaware to Florida and finally to Colorado. Back in New Jersey in 1972, a couple I knew from college decided they'd had it with the East Coast; they were heading for Colorado, and in true hippie fashion, they were selling all their earthly goods, which amounted to one stereo, to fund the trip. I was the buyer. I'd never owned a stereo, and I was happy to help them out. But more than anything, I wanted to go with them. I promised myself I'd follow up on that and connect with them as soon as...well, I don't know what I was thinking. As soon as I graduated? As soon as I graduated and got a car that might make it that far? As soon as I graduated and got a car that might make it that far and Jupiter aligned with Mars and peace would rule the planet and all that? It was the Age of Aquarius, after all, and maybe there was something to all that cosmic stuff.
Well, whatever the forces were that converged to make this happen (before you get all upset, yes, of course, I know it was God, all right?), I am grateful beyond measure. Here I am, finally living in the Rockies, on an amazingly private piece of property at the top of a rise three blocks from the center of a wonderful small town, surrounded on three sides by evergreens with an awesome view of Pikes Peak on the fourth side, working from home, and loving every single thing about my new life.
The "getting here" wasn't much fun, though. As my regular readers know, I haven't blogged in a while. At first, that was due to a very tight book deadline involving dozens of interviews and tons of research, a temporary living situation with spotty Internet service, and time-consuming real estate problems in both Florida and Colorado. I figured everything would settle down once we closed and I turned the book in to the publisher---did I mention that the closing date and the book deadline fell on the exact same day?---but that was not to be.
First, the buyer's mortgage company went bankrupt the day before the closing on our house in Florida. I can't begin to describe what that nightmare was like. The guy performed nothing less than a miracle in acquiring a new mortgage in record time, but the stress was unbelievable. I had already moved to Colorado, my husband had quit his job, and the movers were scheduled to start loading up.
So we closed, but we had no place to live in Colorado. We planned to rent for the first year, and one rental after another didn't pan out. So even as our stuff was barreling down I-70 in Kansas, we didn't know where to tell the driver to deliver it. We ended up putting everything in storage and paying for a second move from the storage unit to the house we rented.
And then my friend Margaret Rex passed away. Margaret, who was in her 70s, had the spunk and energy of a woman half her age until the cancer that had been in remission for years reared its ugly head again. She was a lifechanger, and I told her as much the last time I saw her. You could not know this woman and not be touched by her in a deep and profound way; she was one of those people who brought joy and laughter and meaning to life in every situation and in every encounter you had with her.
Margaret patiently taught me to knit socks.
Margaret lived in Colorado Springs, where I had spent much of the last few years, and I was looking forward to spending time with her when I moved to Colorado permanently. We hadn't even unpacked when we got the call that she was failing; four days later, she was gone. I miss her, and yet I am comforted knowing that her struggle is finally over.
So it's been an eventful summer. There's lots more, of course: a close relative ended up in a mental health facility, called me as much as five times a day after his discharge, and is now living in a homeless shelter; I spent most of three weeks in bed with a phantom illness; at times, chaos seemed to be the new norm for our lives. But here I am today---and I can't say this often enough---living the life I've always wanted.
How many people can say that? Can you? In 1972, I didn't expect to live past my 20s. I lived recklessly, and I knew it. Something was bound to get me sooner rather than later. But here I am, 35 years later, living a reality that was just a dream back than. I am blessed. Truly, unbelievably blessed---blessed beyond measure.