As I was saying, and then my mother got cancer. She suffered for two years. Seriously, you wouldn’t have let your dog suffer the way that she was forced to. The doctors kept saying they didn’t know why she was still alive. And I really took that to heart. I knew that people often lingered simply because they were waiting on unfinished business. Anniversaries. Problems that needed solving. And so I asked myself, why would my mother be hanging on in such agony? And the only thing I could think of was that she was worried about me. My two sisters were settled and had nice stable lives. But I was still drifting, with no real goal or solid ground. So I decided to do something about that. I bought a house and videotaped it so my mother could see it in the hospital. Two weeks later she passed away.
Oh, how I loved that house! In the historic Riverside neighborhood of Jacksonville, it had a lovely fenced yard with huge sycamore trees, and from the front porch swing you could watch people play softball in the beautiful park across the street. I was also one block away from the library, so I was in heaven. I lived there for 20 years, and until the last 2 years, it felt like home to me. It wasn’t a palace by any means, but it was a sanctuary. It was my castle. But it had been built in 1925, and it started falling apart at an accelerated rate that I couldn’t keep up with. It became sort of a financial nightmare. Trying to sell the place was horrific, and when I finally did, it was such a relief that I almost didn’t care that the housing bubble had already burst.
From there I relocated to Vero Beach, Florida while I went back to school. The house I rented was a nice little place in a quiet neighborhood. I used to walk to the intercoastal waterway all the time, and I loved to look out in the back yard and see a flock of ibis or sandhill cranes. I’d probably be there still were it not for having the landlady from hell, but that merits a blog entry of its own.
After graduating I moved back up to Jacksonville. I spent a few homeless months, mostly couch surfing at my sister’s place and that of a friend, before settling in the little guest house I’m in now. My view is my landlady’s vegetable garden on one side, which is a delight, and her junkyard on the other, which is much less of a delight. She’s a bit of a hoarder, and it can be kind of gross. But she’s a really wonderful person, and it will do for now. Soon I won’t be able to afford it, and then heaven only knows what my view will be after that.
But in terms of views over a lifetime, I think I’ve been quite lucky. It will be interesting to see what happens next.