Years of being told who I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to settle for . . . none of it honest, none of it good, not knowing how to fight back to claim my own identity and to defy the people I love .. . They mean well, but they don’t know me, so they have no authority to dictate my life to me. Still, from childhood I’d been taught I was supposed to yield to their judgments in all matters.
In the fall, I made the decision: I would move. I would cut the safety rope linking me to a life I mostly hated, but which was quite secure, and go in pursuit of something more. Once I reached this decision, I must say, I have not had a moment of fear or uncertainty. I have paused frequently to ask myself whether I really was willing to take this risk, and each time the answer was a joyful Yes!
The Hand of God in this has been unmistakable. I am in awe of how He has guided my steps along the way, even feeling Him laughing at me and saying, “Sweetheart, what took you so long?”
I never had to place my property on the market. When I began doing my research, my neighbor offered to buy the place and offered me the high end of current market value for our area (I knew this because I’d already looked, before I talked with them of my intentions). We closed the sale on a Wednesday. That evening, I got in the car and headed to my chosen new locale for what I believed would be the first of several “recon” missions.
I arrived late Thursday evening. Friday, I met with a dear Christian realtor I’d connected with online. She showed me one house. I fell in love with that house, beginning with the front porch. It abundantly met my needs and left me “room to grow” — physically and aesthetically, The rental was well within my budget. I filled out the application.
“Laura, you must contact the pastor over at such-and-such church. My good friend tells me they have just lost their organist of more than 50 years, and they need someone.” I thought, okay, maybe next week. . . The pastor contacted me. On Monday I went and played for him and for the one Board member who was able to come over on very short notice. I was provisionally offered the position, pending completion of a formal audition.
I cut my recon mission short, headed back to my home and began my move (I had a contractual provision to remain in my old home until the end of the school year). Friends offered to help — a massive savings over the professional movers I’d thought I’d have to hire.
There were decisions to make. I felt that — not just because of spatial and economic moving considerations — I needed to take only those things I dearly love and actually need. Only the items that would fit in the life I want. So far as furniture went, that meant my antique bed, two chairs, and my desk; everything else, I sold or donated to my church charity. Of the smaller items, if it could not be immediately put to use to help me realize the life I want, it would not go. A saddle I’d held on to for sentimental reasons, for more than 30 years (I have not had a horse since I was 18, nor ridden but a couple of times since I was 14) would not make the move with me. I gave away more than half my books in order to save on moving space. I gave an avid gardener friend all my yard tools. The trailer itself — the neighbors did not want to deal with it — I was able to re-home with a couple who would move it and refurbish it for their own daughter, recently escaped from an abusive marriage. They also helped me with the cleanup as I moved out.
Several friends came and helped me pack, easing the physical stress on my body.
In a scant 10 days, I was back on the road, this time to stay.
I admit I hurt some people with my decisions — not just to move, but more, to keep my own counsel regarding the move until the last possible moment. I did this primarily to spare myself the stress of having to explain myself to the extended family. And I feel justified in that decision, still, because they all have made major life decisions without reference to me, and I think informing would have been too much akin to permission-seeking.
I have moved in order to create for myself the life I want. It’s not about betraying my family (although I confess to a bit of the good ol’ British Workers’ Salute in the direction of a couple of people who had betrayed and abandoned me at a crucial hour.) There was no room for expansion, in my old home. The area I lived in seemed to sap the joy and energy from me even as its sandy soil saps nutrients from the soil itself. A cousin had pointed out that everything is stunted in that region — even the deer are significantly smaller than just a county or so west, where the terrain takes on a different character. I was stunted, I realized, and I want to grow.