Front Seat


The month of December was consumed with accumulating dishes, a coffee pot, pots and pans, a bed and blankets, etc., things we don’t want to buy because we have three of them back “home.” Of course this meant navigating new territory through holiday traffic.

I relied on Sam to do all the driving, while I sat in the passenger seat fighting back my knee-jerk flinches and “watch outs.” Sam’s reassuring pat on the leg, only served to trigger a silent scream of fury at my own weakness. In those moments my Grandma Bessie came to mind, how she much preferred traveling in the back seat of the car. As a silent child, observing Grandma and Grandpa in their wordless arms-distance relationship, I assumed she wanted to hide like a mouse behind the stern force of Grandpa. Now I’m thinking of the backseat as more of a refuge from the fast and furious barrage of incoming hard metal.

I placed myself under the fantasy umbrella of being back to the little plot of land we own with a new manufactured home in place in six months. Call it my mechanism for coping, but it worked for awhile, I had a plan, something hopeful and optimistic. Then we visited the site and it registered for the first time, what others had been saying all along; two to three years, possibly longer. Debris removal alone will take six months, the entire infrastructure is gone; power, water and the proposed sewer line… well who knows at this point.

My nephew, Korey, was kind enough to offer us a temporary refuge from our homeless wanderings. We are living in his cute little house in Roseville, while he takes up occupancy in the “Dog House,”  a converted garage on the same property. He calls it that because he has two little dogs, Libby, a mix of sweetness and Tigger-like bounciness and Snickerdoodles, a lovey ole Pug with arthritis who would much rather sit on the stoop and be brushed than try to move.

Christmastime, we drove a rental car up to Vancouver WA to spend time with family. Sam drove home the 26th and I stayed to spend some precious days with my girl. Yes, I still call her my girl. And yes, it was stabilizing and deliciously satisfying to soak in the richness of the family connection.

The tentative plan for 2019; We would still like to move back to Paradise eventually. In the meantime we are actively searching the real estate market for an affordable place to purchase, a place we can hang our hats for a couple or three years while Paradise rebuilds. Remember, we spent an entire year in a one-bedroom apartment looking for a place to finally land. Here we go again and the housing market is even more diminished. We’ve printed out listings from Redding to Sacramento, but can’t seem to conjure up the energy to actually go out and start looking… maybe next week.

We have a bed, a warm heater, good coffee in the morning and we made it through Christmas without any new catastrophe. Not to call myself a road warrior yet, but I am braving the traffic with less fear. If I have learned anything in this crazy life; You can’t drive your car from the back seat…and that no matter how scary it is, the front seat has the best view. 


Muffinhead is the one with the remote
Under the Christmas lights with Snickerdoodles
My girl and me. Neck warmers are not optional in Vancouver WA
My handsome grandsons
Grandsons. How rich I am.
Front Seat