When I think back to where I was a year ago, so many feelings come up, but mostly relief- I’m SO GLAD I’m not there! If I had known then that I would be here now, it would’ve been easier, but I didn’t know when I would sell my house. I was in the middle of another winter where I was often snowed in by myself, and unable to afford a proper snow removal service for my extra-long, steep driveway. Any time we had a winter storm, I was outside after work in the dark with my snow shovel, trying my best to keep the driveway from freezing overnight, so I could get to work the next day.
Every day, I saw my mother’s dark empty house at the top of the driveway, which created a pit in my stomach each time. It certainly could have been worse, but it was a friggin’ nightmare compared to where I am today. And it was a nightmare which had been preceded by several other nightmares. It’s so true that “we do what we have to do”, and we surprise ourselves when we live through it.
I had completely forgotten what it feels like to be this happy.
I am LOVING my winter in Florida! The weather has generally been in the 70’s, with lows in the 50’s – quite perfect. Every time I go outside, I’m extremely aware of how incredibly lovely it is, and how fortunate I am to be here! I don’t even bother to put the top up on my car, because I never need to – which adds to the overwhelming feeling of freedom I have. Driving around town in the open car in shorts, sandals, and a sleeveless top in January, with the sun shining down on me, makes the smallest errand feel like I’m on vacation.
I’ve joined the YMCA, I’ve joined the local genealogical society, and I’ve joined Meetup to get together with people for different activities – walks, movies, bowling, happy hours, all sorts of things. The people here are generally relaxed and happy. Many are retired and single, and, like me, they’re also looking for new friends. So I feel like I fit in.
Staying at my cousin’s house makes me feel like a princess in a castle – it’s a lovely, comfortable home, still full of my aunt’s unique possessions, including family pictures everywhere. My mother’s sister had the house built in 1989, when she was 57. She was a creative thinker, and had custom features installed, like an electrical outlet under the couch in the middle of the living room so no one would trip over the lamp cords, a Murphy bed in the third bedroom, a built-in ironing center in the master bedroom, a fireplace which is rare in Florida, a window seat, a custom spice drawer and slide-out drawer cabinets for pots in the kitchen. It’s not a big house, but it’s classy. She knew what she wanted.
My Mom and my aunt were just 15 months apart and were very close friends. Mom visited her sister here often, and every day I hear their laughter as I’m cooking in the same kitchen – they were both over-the-top fun to be with! So being here feels comforting. It feels like I’m with my family. I feel so grateful to my cousin for letting me stay here.
So it’s not surprising that I started to think that maybe I’ve found my “happy place.” Maybe this is the place where I should settle down. I like that it’s easy to get here from the northeast, and that Florida is a place where many of my friends will retire. I LOVE that it’s near the beach, and there’s lots of water everywhere. I LOVE the west coast, because one of my favorite things to do is sit on the beach and watch the sunset over the Gulf. I could actually afford to buy a home of some sort here – maybe not in Sarasota, but somewhere close. And of course maybe eventually my cousin and her husband will retire here – I’d love to live near them.
So I made an appointment with a real estate agent.
And then I canceled it.
After a heart-to-heart conversation with myself, and some budget scrutiny, I realized that I’m just not ready to settle down. I’ve barely begun my RV life, and I miss it. There are lots of things I still want to do, including doing my genealogy research overseas. It just doesn’t make sense to buy a house before I do all or most of these other things.
And then I started brainstorming with myself, made a list of the most important things I still need/want to do, and created a plan for the next 22 months. All planned out. And none of it involves buying a house, or being in Florida. Stay tuned!!