Cashing Out

I grew up in tiny Sandpoint, Idaho. I had one of those storybook childhoods that most people dream of for their children. I learned to ride a horse before my training wheels were removed from the bike that would have tethered me to paved roads. My best friend was raised by her grandparents so we had ample adventures and limited supervision. I’m eternally grateful that I grew up before Facebook because we were very good at finding trouble to get into. Premarital sex, underage drinking and grand theft. We got away with it all…and there are only a handful of bad pictures.

I wanted to drive away from my small hometown the minute graduation was over without a second glance over my shoulder. I’ve never liked small town life and when you live where other folks vacation, people think you’re crazy for admitting that you actually hate what they covet.

I moved in with my boyfriend in the middle of my sophomore year of highschool and got pregnant…like so many small town girls with big city dreams, do. I was 16 and had an abortion. It was awful, though I’ve always been grateful and would do it again if I had the chance to choose differently. I was scared to death of a penis after that though- and my boyfriend and I were terrified of getting pregnant. Things declined and we eventually broke up and I moved home for my senior year. Counting the seconds until my last drive across the iconic long bridge.

 

Life and living beyond my maturity had left me pretty isolated and removed from any friendships I’d had before, so I poured myself into school and graduated with honors. My focus was clear again and I was excited to leave my small town and all the sad memories, behind.

I ran into that same ex boyfriend on my 18th birthday… and we got pregnant with our son. I turned 19 with a newborn in my arms, having only made it about a ten minute drive from my mother’s house. We did the best we could with what we had and worked hard to have a happy home. I’d just never hoped to call a single-wide with mushrooms growing on the ceiling, home-sweet-home. I had always wanted to be a mother though, and fell in love with raising babies instead of chasing dreams. I packed away my big city dreams with my high heels and started sewing cloth diapers.

When our son turned 3 and I wanted another baby… we bought our house. When that second baby turned 3, we got divorced and that house became my home.

Queen of my own castle, ruler of my domain.

That sounds far more incredible than the reality.

I’ve been through foreclosure twice, my property taxes have crippled me a few times and don’t even get me started on the maintenance of 2 acres OR the $10,000 water leak. I’ve hung on to this house by the smallest possible margin and I’ve grown to love it like it’s my fourth child.

The worms in my garden are some of my closest friends. I’ve spent a lot of time alone in trying to keep up with my sanctuary, and I’m still constantly behind the 8 ball.

Corona virus decimated my company and all but 3 employees have been permanently laid off. I’m one of those “lucky” ones who makes more on unemployment than I did working full time. I’ve been cleaning and painting and treasuring these endless weeks at home to catch up on the gazillion things that have fallen by the wayside as a result of being gone 40 hours a week and single parenting full time.

I bought myself a Roomba and wake up to clean floors every day. Holy Christ on the cross, if you don’t have one, buy it… I don’t know how or why I ever lived without her. A clean house makes me so happy and happiness clears my head. I bought a big beautiful wool rug for my enormous living room, and sat in the middle of it with my knitting, smiling all by myself.

Happy.

So happy I’m done settling for sad.

I sat in the silence of my big empty castle and decided to leap like I’ve always wanted.

To take that last drive across the bridge I’m supposed to love, but don’t.

The only thing keeping me from going is my best friend in the whole wide world. My red haired security blanket. The first person to tell me to go because she knows how much I’ve always wanted to. She helped me narrow down the field of candidates and I pulled the trigger.

I listed the house and my beautiful garden for sale.

I want that last drive to be THE last drive.

I picked the nicest realtor who came highly recommended from my favorite people. She got me all signed up and ready to go, then blew my mind a little.

$900,000.00 with a stipulation that I get to harvest my garden. How do you like them apples?

The nest egg I’ve nearly killed myself to hang onto, has grown to the point that my dreams can come true…

ANYWHERE else.

 


Day 29: If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

beamermaid

I’m going to dream big and say I won 500 million dollars. I need that much for this.

  1. I would set my family up for success. College money for anyone who wants to go, trade school, you name it. I would buy them each a house and reliable car. Family, taken care of. My mama has worked hard her whole life and I would love to spoil her.
  2. I would move to Kauai the same day. I would buy a ridiculously expensive piece of property on the ocean and would grow all the things I’ve never been able to grow.  I can’t wait to plant my North Idaho gardenia in the soil of her people. 🙂
  3. I would buy the homes of my enemies and evict them. Yeah… I can be a bit of a cunt when inspired.
  4. I would then purchase the companies that employed those same assholes, and liquidate them.
  5. I’d hire a hundred gardeners and have the vegetable garden of my dreams. I’d grow hundreds of varieties of tomatoes in a rainbow shape of ombre colors blending into each other. A good portion of my winnings would go into the dirt.
  6. I’d travel the world with my children and finish writing all the books that sit collecting dust on my laptop.
  7. Tattoos… so many tattoos…. I’d get on a plane and fly to Florida to have my very favorite tattoo goddess do them for me, too.
  8. I’d go to law school, focus on family law and represent single mothers near and far.
  9. I’d spend a month in all my favorite countries, learning how to prepare every cuisine to perfection. A gnocchi lesson in Italy, dim sum in China, and a rainbow of curries to learn in Thailand. I love food, and I hope I always love learning to cook new things.
  10. I’d adopt that baby from a Chinese orphanage like I always wanted to. I read all the books after the birth of my son, cried for years about the ongoing bias that had women leaving their newborn daughters on the side of the road like trash or tucking them into a basket to be abandoned in a busy market. I love being a mother more than anything and absolutely think I’ll foster or adopt a few more children before I retire into being a Grandma.

What are you going to do, make or buy?


Day 25: List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

1. That I wasn’t complacent with the time I was given. I recently left a job I probably could have worked at, forever. As the vice president, I had a fair amount of job security. Then I hired the idiot who I was in love with, who broke my heart shortly thereafter, and that job I loved became a prison of consequences. Those folks who tell you not to shit where you eat? They aren’t kidding. Poverty is scary, for sure.. but the fact that I never have to see his lying, miserable face again, is right up there with winning the lottery. It’s worth every last penny.

2. That I’ve never been for sale. My heart and soul are hard-won treasure. I don’t always put them in the best place, but they are priceless and irreplaceable in the self-serving, calculating and disposable climate we live in.

3. That the things that I love most are free. Baby tomato plants, the smell of fresh coffee, a long Sunday without any plans, my little ones cuddling in my arms…. ahhh.

4. That I’d rather have an envelope of rare heirloom tomato seeds than just about anything else on earth. I spent a week just enjoying being home with nowhere to go… and then the temperature went up in my greenhouse and I started dreaming about freshly turned dirt and tiny green tomatoes starting to ripen. I braved the coronavirus yesterday to go get a bag of potting soil. 🙂

5. That I’d rather give than receive. In all situations, lol…

6. That anything that’s mine is yours if I love you. You can even have my last roll of toilet paper… and that’s saying a lot. I share so freely that sometimes I don’t realize I’ve given too much…. but that’s just me. I’d rather go find more, than watch someone I love go without.

7. That I’m funny as hell and will do my best to make you laugh, even on your saddest days. I’ll volunteer my stupidity AND my stupid heart if it means replacing your tears with laughter. I’ve loved a lot of morons, it won’t take long.

8. That my heart was always in the right place, even when I was actively working against my own best interests. This has been a shitty year full of loving the worst kind of man who gives the worst of my worst a run for their titles. I seem determined to love the ugliest dog at the shelter in hopes of saving his smelly life, with more thought to his potential than the flea-infested reality sitting in my lap.

9. That my faith is strong, regardless of the many situations and disappointments that have challenged it. I’m a huge believer in Karma and am eternally grateful to be a favorite of the Karma fairy. It may be easy to hurt and disappoint me, but OH my goodness… I don’t envy the karma that comes with that.

10. That I’m loving to a fault, friendly and welcoming to the least beloved, sharing and devoted to the people who love me in return. Oh and fickle… because when you move from my list of friends to that other list… I giggle just as much at your suffering as I did cheering your success.

Oh and…. Happy Corona Virus!

I don’t often post pictures or videos of myself, but I figured I’d say hello in person, since we’re all a bunch of shut-ins. Who’s ready for a knitting lesson??

 

 

 


Day 19: What do you most wish you were great at?

1. Thinning the carrots in the garden. I suck at ripping 3/4th of them out, so they’re always crowded, too small, misshapen and weird. I grow horrible carrots and it’s my greatest shame as a farm girl. It’s one of those things that is part of my character. I can’t casually throw away something that I made. I give it the benefit of the doubt and even when it clearly looks stunted and in need of discarding… I keep trying to save them all. It’s not a great trait to possess when you’re growing root vegetables (or dating). Bless all my little beets and carrots- I can’t pick one over the other so they’re all going to have a hard time reaching their full potential.

2. Letting go. I worry about people’s feelings more than I should. I overthink everything. I can’t tell you the horrible paths my mind went down today because even I know I’m imagining the worst things at will. I wish I were great at saying “Cest la vie” with a smile and a tip of my champagne glass… but assuming the worst is more my weakness and I make even slightest hiccup into a heart attack. Death is extremely hard for me and I wish I could find the peace and joy in happy memories… but letting go is tantamount to giving up for me, and I fight it tooth and nail.

3. Hunting. Random, I know… but I want to shoot an elk, gut it and chop it up to fill my freezer. I loved dissection in science and I’m not squeamish. I grow a million things, but at the end of the long day and night of weeding, pruning and staking them… all I want is a steak. I have too tender of a heart to grow a cow to eat, but I could joyfully hunt a wild one down. I’m determined to learn.

4. Fishing. Along those same lines… I really want to catch a pike. I’m seeing my friends post pictures of them lately and I want one. I work for an Alaskan based company and I REALLY want to go fishing for salmon, halibut, cod and the rest of their magical assortment of delicious fish. I’d rather go fishing than to a spa… so perhaps I just need to book a trip and go already. Why wait?

5. Laundry. I’m great at washing and drying it… but folding it is right up there with the gynecologist for me. I’d rather die than fold ten loads of laundry and that’s what I face each Saturday. Yes, I know I should get rid of some sheets. Have less dish towels…. etc. I don’t want to. I have more drawers in my kitchen than you can imagine and plenty of space to encourage me to have seasonal linens. I just wish with my whole heart that I loved to fold them when they were hot out of the dryer.

6. Balancing work and home. I’m so damn exhausted on Saturday that I let my Dumpling veg out in front of the TV or electronics. I let her eat popsicles. I’m THAT mom who overcompensates for the mom guilt of school + daycare that puts a 6 year old into a 40 hour work week. It’s shitty and I feed her more corn dogs than her older siblings got to eat. Little Red sees Twinkies in the cupboard and shakes her head at me.

LR: Where did these come from and WHO are you? We were never allowed to have these.

Me- Eat one, they’re gross. You weren’t missing out on anything. It’s just not a battle worth fighting. It’s a mermaid cupcake, not the end of the world. I’m sorry I was so uptight. I’ll buy you some if you want.

LR- Ew… they are kind of gross.

7. Taking time for myself. I need a break so desperately I could cry. Too much work, too much stress, too much heartache, too much of everything frankly- and I wish I were better at insisting on taking a minute to feel better… even if that means drinking a cup of coffee in silence and going to work a half hour later.

I get a lot done in a day… but it’s always nice to have goals too. ♥


Day 16: What are your five greatest accomplishments?

  1. Motherhood. It’s every bit of who I am and my children are my crown jewels. I’m missing my firstborn and in being absent from my life he has taught me a million more things. Just when you think you know what you’re doing or have cracked the code in how to juggle it all, one of them throws up, moves out, gets in trouble, sings you a song, writes you a love note, pees in your bed, gets good grades, etc…. it’s forever changing. I think I have finally found a healthy balance of love and discipline while slowing down to have more tea parties. I think I’m finally a good mom. Phew.
  2. My career. I was in the right place at the right time to land my job but through my own hard work and perseverance I have landed in the #2 spot and carry a lot of responsibility as a result. I bring a lot of work home with me and the stress of it has given me a few bleeding ulcers. I don’t always want to go, but enjoy it most days and have the flexibility to put my Dumpling first without any hesitation, something that is priceless these days. I love my coworkers, and that hasn’t always been the case so I appreciate it wholeheartedly.
  3. My garden. I’m moving the whole damn thing this year, which is daunting to say the least. I’m also downsizing, because I can’t work full time and keep up with an acre of growing weeds and plants. I just can’t do it, so I’m building a fence around a quarter of the size of my old garden. I was going to skip a year and not plant, but my mental health depends on putting my hands in the dirt and having ripe tomatoes.
  4. My friendships. I never have time to see most of them, but I really am blessed to have the best friends in the whole galaxy. I’ve been painfully depressed for the past year and have distanced myself from 99% of the world in trying to put myself back together. I’ve been avoiding everyone while working to stop the endless flood of tears from ruining every good time. When you can’t pull it together, you find out who your real friends are. The people who reach out, shoot a text or call even though they know I wont answer. I’m incredibly blessed to have more than my share and they’ve gotten me through an awful year that threatened to get the best of me.
  5. My family. I have a good relationship with my mom, a healthy and loving relationship with all of my siblings and there’s nobody I avoid! That sounds ordinary, but trust me it isn’t. I don’t see them as much as I’d like but the fact that we’re all on good terms is nothing short of miraculous and I treasure the family dinners we missed out on for so many years and for such stupid reasons. Aside from a few red-hat wearing distant cousins, our entire family has healed old wounds and come back together. I hope and pray that the same happens with my son some day, and seeing all their faces around the dinner table as we laugh, gives me fresh hope.