Posted on August 13, 2020 by scottiejeanette
At the beginning of your favorite TV shows there’s a montage sequence that you now probably skip because you’re in a middle of our new normal way of watching TV, affectionally known by the moniker we usually apply to habits and behaviors that our Christian (read guilt ridden) forebears use to describe anything that should be limited (or not enjoyed at all) that would distract you from work, which carries the label “Previously on…”
CUE cello, and other instruments that connote melancholy, a slight timpani rumbling that adds tension and a solo flute… soft focus snaps shots of a beautiful oak leaf canopy protecting hilly, winding streets? Driveways? Maybe both? Some end in dirt when the pavement suddenly ends… no two houses are alike, a mix of cabins from the 1940’s with Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions desperately trying to hold disparate segments into a “home” while others elegantly grace the land they’re on, seeming to have risen like the oaks themselves organically from the Santa Monica Wilderness. As the drone rises up to show this idyllic hamlet in it’s rightful place, cradle in the bosom of “Dirt Mulholland” voice over is heard (Please be Charlize, please be Charlize) in a voice struggling to stay strong:
“This is soon to be where I used to live…”
Yes. I am moving… on.
Mylove and bought our dream house, our “shut up Marcy, house” (her words not mine!) 13 years ago, and neither of us saw that the end of our dream would come so soon… (not entirely true, as I flashback to the last post where I am starting to figure out she saw the end much earlier than I thought or she disclosed) but nonetheless, it’s time.
I’ve got to get the last bit of “us” out of the premises, clean it up as a welcome gift, and get down the road… and, I’ve had to leave the heavy part for last.
Did I mention that I’m doing this during a global pandemic (is that an oxymoron?) and hopefully a rewriting of our systemic social constructs (please please please — let’s not return to normal but to the America for ALL that we’re seeing necessary for us to survive!) I can’t even responsibly ask for help. I’ve packed 34 years of marriage, life and home myself. I’ve moved it box by box in “carloads” in my convertible Celica and squirreled them away into 4 “hidey-holes” garages and attics of dear friends who’ve been generous enough to protect my “stuff” indefinitely, cause it’s “anyone’s guess” as to when this thing (lockdown) will be over.
I still have the heaviest of the furniture that was instrumental in the “staging” of the house to discard, including the reefer that the gradual diminishing of my upper body strength (I’m gladly trading it for curves) will require some COVID Choreography to negotiate to the curb.
There’s also papers to sign, mail to forward and prepping my two precious doggies for a semi-uncertain future while culling our queendom of land, processions and treasure to roughly 1/8 its former size… and further culling that down to what I can fit into my Celica (plus two dogs) that will be my “Stays with” world as I hunker down with my sister and her family in her home, that she ad her hubby Mikey have graciously offered refuge.
I am looking forward to some promised rest on the other side of this, but I cannot slacken now. This is the last push. I’ve got to take down the wall art (most of which was painted by my Father-in-Law Malcolm – we were the proud Southern California gallery of his water colors, pack my clothes, and arrange to have the above mentioned stuff lugged, and tie up all the loose ends.
However, some CC (the above mentioned COVID Choreography) has required me & the girls (Aria & Bella — my doggies) to leave the house so the new owners can do their last inspections, contractors walk throughs, etc.) I’ve done all kinds of errands during these required “vacate-ations” including taking my girls to the beach and other sojourns to formally say good bye to the western SF valley.
We’re actually getting quite good at it, having first developed this skill during the initial showings of the house – COVID restrictions in the real estate biz required a a buffer zone between seller leaving and buyer shopping — social distancing and masking requirements are strict (Thank Gawd) — and we’ve got it down:
At one half hour before the scheduled time spoon fresh cookie dough onto the baking pans and place in the preheated oven. (What’s gonna smell more like and home you want to buy than aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies? I’ve experimented with various recipes and the current winner:
which I’m calling "St. Joseph’s (patron saint of selling houses – "good Catholics" bury one in their yard when they are selling a home) 1 x 4’s" – One cup each of Cashews, Almonds, Dried Cherries, and Dark Chocolate Chips, 1 stick butter, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt.)
Stop drinking coffee.
Gather up the leashes, water bottle and bowl, and purse, Hat of its sunny, umbrella if it’s raining and place into the Celica.
Go potty (its COVID and none of the usual places will let you in! WTF???)
At 20 minutes before pull the cookies and let them cool. Write a note ala Alice in Wonderland. Eat me? Um. No. Write another note… (Where’s more paper? Shoot! I packed it!) Use the paper napkin, silly. Ah… yes fan the rest of the napkins out invitingly…”
At 15 minutes before, arrange the cookies in a pleasing manner onto the last plate in the entire house, rush the girls to the car, and drive…
… twenty yards.
We don’t have curbs in my neighborhood. We have only a smattering of streetlights for that matter. Our streets are our sidewalks and we all love it that way. You can’t park just anywhere, not because of laws or property lines but you might drive off a cliff. I have three “carports” (one covered) on my property, but I’m not “supposed to be here,” so I use the turnout at the bottom of my street. My girls are used to this by now, it doesn’t stop the happy dance that they’re going to get to “go for a ride,” but it also has stopped the confused stare (replaced by the knowing yawn) which is quickly replaced by the second happy dance (now in the crowded sports-car) knowing that they get to “go for a walk.”
And that’s happening again… today. And yes, it’s become clear that what started as a financial reality became the Universe’s and Mylove’s way of gently ( if blunt force trauma is your idea of gentle) way of guiding (read: goading) Scottie Jeanette Christine Madden into saying a formal goodbye to house & home and this chapter of our life… to just her life.
While others have been burning thru their streaming lists, sourdough bread(s) and household improvement “should lists,” I have been making this home into a house so it could one day be a home for…
… someone else.
And that someone(s) else has appeared, in the form of a new family who are just as my loving moonchild sister (and realtor) predicted who come as she calmed my fears by reassuring me that there would come someone just like Mylove and I — someone who would see this house as absolutely perfect. Audie is a genius of many things, and “knower of humans” is one of them. This couple was respectful, kind and loving, and I know this house and my dear friends who started as “just neighbors will welcome them into our world.
They are extraordinary people – a young couple who has spend the last 6 years looking for the perfect home to start their family “on their terms…” Which is exactly how Mylove and I worded our desire to find a dream house. I know this because of the beautiful letter they wrote when I accepted their offer. They want a special place for their daughter to grow up. They know that Mylove spent her last breaths here, they even saw my TED talk.
(welcome to 2020, where a few keystrokes will tell almost everything you wanna know about the woman you’re buying a house from!)
They love “everything about our home” and they even wanted the recipe for the St. Joe’s 1×4’s (so they have good taste too!) We’ve had inspections and disclosures and virtual hugs. It’s happening. They didn’t haggle on price. I didn’t haggle on repairs. It was the perfect transaction.
And now the last big push starts… right after this…
I’ve got an hour before I can return to the house and so I’ve been using most of these times to walk the serpentine, labyrinthian, serene scene (sorry, I couldn’t stop the roll) that is my neighborhood. It’s hard to say just “my” because Mylove used to bubble with pure joy as we strolled these streets together – “This is our neighborhood!” It was second only to the way she gushed as we hiked the wilderness that was (no exaggeration) less that 30 steps from our door, “This is our Backyard!”
And… as much as we knew every tree and dog of our hamlet, I am almost embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until Quarantine that I woke-up to how many children actually live here. It’s not so much as I see them even now, but more like the evidence of their existence.
*A brand new lending library spouted up with children books.
*A new stretch of (ridiculously short almost laughable) asphalt which made no sense until it was used as a community billboard:
*Bike tracks with incredibly short wheel bases.
And lest you think me Nancy Drew with these astute observations, alas, I confess that I know this only because the faeries (which I also had no idea lived here!) told me.
Before I fall (or crawl willingly) down the rabbit hole of “Oh, sure! Just as I’m about to leave the neighborhood! Just my luck!” Which, trust me, is the kind of thinking that my firewall of positivity has taken several hits lately; let me say this — they come at the exact right time.
I first noticed them by accident. As much as estrogen has quietly let slip my upper-body strength, my Weimaraner/Pit bull baby, Bella tries to build it up with every lizard, bunny or prey-like denizen of our neighborhood. Usually without warning, she explodes past the limits of the leash and my shoulder joints which requires a firm stance and sheer hand strength to keep me from leaving gravity’s pull. (Average about 70% at this point – scraped knees and elbows don’t ever get the chance to really heal); and this time my only choice to keep on my feet was to release my hold on the leash.
Luckily she stopped as soon as she started and as I reached down to pick-up my end of the leash I saw it.
The front door to the Faerie’s lair. Ornate, fancy, almost ostentatious, I dunno, I guess I thought faeries were… a subtler bunch? I confess, I didn’t know it was a faerie’s home at first, placing it more in the world of gnomes (their penchant for primary colors is well known) or more likely a sprite. Then another. And another.
Each was hidden until you saw it — then it was as blatant as if it had been there forever.
It wasn’t until I found the wishing tree that my mystery had it answer. There were faeries here and these were their homes.
It was comforting magic to know that all these years were had been as we suspected. Cared for. Protected. Looked after under the canopy of oak trees.
"I wasn’t sure if the children brought the Faeries or vice reverse."
But it didn’t matter.
A new little girl was going to be living here soon in the home where I myself had truly, finally, despite so many odds had blessedly blossomed into a woman. She will have the hills as “her backyard,” she’ll have these streets as “her neighborhood,” she will have Halloweens and Christmases, and summers and springs — she’ll hear the coyotes chilling serenades, the owls comforting lullabies, the scoldings of the squirrels and screeching arias of the hawks. She’ll be hugged close by the trees, caressed by ocean breezes and watched o’er by the faeries.
Yes. I have lifelong friends who live here, dear friends and sisters I will hold in my heart and company forever, but… it wasn’t my neighborhood anymore.
But it was going to be in good hands.
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Scottie Jeanette Madden
Screenwriter, Author, Cook and Lover. Author of "Getting Back To Me, from girl to boy to woman in just fifty years" & "Recklass In The Kitchen" a year of light, laughter & love... oh. and food!