After years of moving from apartment to apartment, house to house, uprooting myself, I am coming up on three years in my ordinary little niche in a brick four-plex in east Old Town, Fort Collins.
I fear losing my home more than any further health issues. I can live with my bad knees, one leg shorter than the other, a hip loose in its socket, the necessary ridding my mouth of teeth that aren’t going to go the distance, the ringing in my ears now chronic when tired and the tiredness itself; I can live with the myopia of relying on progressively more intense reading glasses. I can endure my insomnia, my isolation, my ups and downs and that I now have white hair at the temples.
But home! Losing my home– no. And the only reason I’m worried is that the lease is due for renewal and the landlord last year raised the rent to the top of my housing allowance from the local housing authority. If he raises it again, I’m screwed.
Every time I’ve had to move I’ve gotten through it, trying to overcome years of getting in over my head, wanting what I can’t afford, and so on. But I make a huge emotional investment in a given place and I nest as if I’m going to be in one spot forever.
It wasn’t so bad to be nomadic in the late sixties and seventies and in 73 I was able to let go of a gorgeous little studio in St. Paul in order to accept a friend’s invitation to take a trip to Europe. I loved the freedom of living out of my duffel bag and wandering around Europe in a VW bus. I loved taking a train alone down the Italian coast to Reggio Calabria at the toe of the boot– a very dangerous thing to do back then. And need I say I loved having an attentive, kind lover whose language I had to master in a few days to survive.
I’ve lived in this community for nearly fifty years and I know every road and every intersection. I know where the vintage rentals are, and all the alley houses and holes in the wall I can beautify with my shabby chique things.
But I’m madly in love with my Golden Retriever Munch, and the only way I can manage her is to be able to let her outside and back in. And I love my apartment. I sometimes go a week without going for a drive or to the store, although my Ford Ranger sits near the door with gas and insurance and current plates. I live here with a vengeance, now–
I have asked myself from every direction, where home is, what home is to me. I don’t have the question answered. I think it’s linked to, “Where would I thrive? What, if I could design my life at this moment, would it look like?”
It’s all over the blog and my poems that I’m crazy about southern Italy. Not long ago I watched a segment on the Home and Garden show of a couple moving to a tiny town in the middle of Calabria and buying a small three-hundred year old villa for $40,000.00. It needed work…but what a find. I interact daily with several new Calabrian friends on Facebook, and I have a window into their daily lives in similar spaces.
I pine for a small villa built into the coast, neighbors who care about me and who I love– a daily life in which I get up to the warmth of a small rustic kitchen, some opera on the stereo, opening my laptop in a window that overlooks the sea. I would write, and rest and go out in late afternoon to the beach and then to the cafe, to companions and laughter. I hope I wouldn’t succumb to my love of wine after all these years getting alcohol out of my life– but if that dream came true, I don’t think I’d beat myself up if I were to cautiously and optimistically toast the evening with a little Valpolicella.
I love it that it is Saturday night jazz on the radio, a bread pudding in the oven and that I’ve just been communicating with people who live on the other side of the world. To a great extent, your home is where you are living…in the present.
But what would it take for the dream to come true?