At the last writing, Sam and I opened escrow on a manufactured home that sits on an acre at the end of Debra Lane, in Anderson.
Amidst it all, I decide to let my hair grow. I’m telling you this because it seems significant to me for some reason. The short perky style that was so me for so long has completely lost its appeal. It seemed to go, along with everything else. My hair growing out is a thick mass, curly and now frizzy-gray at the edges. It is a wild bush in the morning before I corral it all up. Grabbing the scissors and taming it into compliance is an option, but a deeper urge wants to ride it out, to what end I’m not sure. Sometimes a road is just a road and needs to be traveled. Perhaps, in good time, it will lead me back to myself.
So… the house… the all-consuming house: The storm that hit Redding/Anderson mid-February, took down vulnerable oaks and pines, weak from years of drought. It also took down the front patio cover of this place, mid-escrow.
We move in amidst the installation of a brand new patio cover, the only bright spot in the whole affair, as far as I can tell. After the harsh winter and brutal storm, the broken trees and barren landscape reinforce a sense of despair I haven’t been able to shake.
The inside; like walking into a tomb – so far from the light, airy home we’d left behind in Paradise. I can find nothing endearing me to this place. As far as I am concerned, the quicker we can get it fixed up and back on the market the better off we’ll be.
My first real sense to the extent of troubles ahead, is how the towel rods and shelving are installed at angles, anywhere from five to fifteen degrees off-level. Moulding around the windows might end half-way up and the top half of the window then covered by a dusty-ruffled valance. Repairs, done on the fly – shout cheap, fast, sloppy and ready to disintegrate. Yes, we did have an inspection and took a discount off the listed price for necessary repairs, but as we go deeper to find more leaks, more crossed wires, more deterioration, a hopeless sense of a mistake made, sinks in like a lead weight.
While Sam repairs broken sprinklers and pipes and prepares the soil for planting, I tackle painting the walls. The existing color palette ranges from mustard, to mauve, to stark white and dark blue– a color fight that hurts my soul each morning. I decide on a light sand color and white trim throughout – aaahhh…
Neighborhood peacocks, lots of them, roam here. The story in the hood tells of how it all started with a couple of peacocks, Gertrude and Wilbur, pets of the man who lived on the corner lot, but died last year. We counted over twenty in our yard one morning. A lovely novelty at first, all curiosity and iridescence. But the 4 a.m. screeching and the ravaging of newly planted gardens, quickly puts them in the category of unwanted visitors. Chasing them off whenever we catch them in the yard seems to be working. Imagine you’re a peacock, minding your own business, foraging for seeds and bugs. Suddenly, out of nowhere appears Running-pajamaed-woman, lion-like head bouncing, arms flailing – word in the flock travels fast.
Spring brings a riot of color to the front gardens. Armed with clippers and trowel I attack the vines, that strangle the blooming camellias and roses. Hacking away and digging at the offending culprits serves to release that primal urge to kill every ugly vestige of what was. I do it with vigor – so satisfying.
Sam’s vegetable and herb garden send up new shoots, hinting at an upcoming bounty. On the back deck, we gaze out over a sea of flowers that blanket the yard in yellow. I say softly, nearly inaudible, as if speaking too loud might constitute a commitment, “It is beautiful here,”
Summer heat descends on us. Sam tends this acre of land, watering, planting and mowing as if this is what he was put on this good earth to do. I love that about him.
Tiny frogs, no bigger than a fingernail, hop across this land. A flick of a blade of grass out of the corner of my eye and I am on my knees, talking to a little creature who doesn’t know me from Adam. I laugh at a two-inch hop and fear for this small vulnerable life.
We are still waiting for the SBA loan we were assured of months ago, With that we can tackle the structural stuff, deck repairs, flooring and maybe new windows. Until then we are comfortable here. The roof doesn’t leak and the evaporative cooler, we call Swampy, works fine.
The sun dapples morning light through the Cypress, onto the patio while we sip coffee. Hummingbirds flit playfully through the skittering sprinklers. A peahen and seven baby chicks peck their way across the yard. We practically stop breathing, so as not to frighten them away. A hawk soars overhead.
I shake off any urge to put down roots here. It all seems precarious and temporary – the need for flight could come with the next spark on dried grass. We’ve come eight months and a lifetime to arrive at the end of Debra Lane. I can’t imagine leaving, and yet I can’t imagine staying.The only road I see before me now is the one inward – the journey in search of old one who waits for me on that rise above the river. Tendrils of gray escape the confines of a loosely tied band at the base of her neck. She greets me with a sideways smile and, “What took you so long.”
“Tell me a story,” I plead. I want to hear again, the one where she decides to let her hair grow.
We are blessed with so much support from friends and family who have helped us get back on our feet, both emotionally and physically. I feel you. Your thoughts, prayers and gifts fill me with love and gratitude. Thank you.