Sunday dogs

So much time and in such little parcels that it escapes. Like Simon, running off leash across the park into a barranca and up the hill on the other side to see the Sunday dogs in their yards. He leaps the distance across the small canyon with almost animated prowess. It’s as though he isn’t touching the ground and a distance of three or four minutes is closed to less than 15 seconds. And a walk of a few minutes turns into half an hour and then more as he faithfully runs to all the fences to report where he is and asks why they are still in their yards.

And now, another year. It was a year ago today that we moved away from the house we owned for nearly nine years. Rather, it owned us and slave-like, forced us into nearly a decade of servitude–of never-ending bills with empty bank accounts, and debt that mounted like snow on mountaintops and broken water heaters, slab leaks, roofing repairs, landscape difficulties. Money, money and more money–a penny earned was a penny wasted.

I liken our lives to a ship and in the fall of 2014, we assessed the vessel with its leaky hull and torn sails. It listed to starboard and lumbered on uncertain of its fate–wracked by one storm after another, it was clear that one more storm would sink her. We were doomed unless we could right the ship.

So we made the decision to start plugging the holes in the hull and sent the crew atop to replace or sew up the sails by selling the house. We have owned three houses in our lives, but the third one, while it certainly was home, was never ours. The extraordinary mistake of buying it in 2006 coupled with a horrible sub-prime mortgage deal that we foolishly accepted created a gaping hole that we simply couldn’t fill. We had to sell and we did so knowing that it’s probable that we will not own real estate in California again.

In keeping with the ship metaphor, after that, we started bailing out the hull and in the past year, the ship is upright again, it’s not taking on water and the hull is drying out because the home we now have, we rent-for less than the mortgage we had and secure in that whatever repairs need to be made here, they are for the most part not our concern. We can weather storms now and we can sail with confidence. We continue to bail out the hull and trim the sails–but more for adjustment and weather-tacking, rather than sheer salvation. We’re safe and headed toward a calm and safe harbor. Maybe one day we’ll buy a home again, but not here–not now and not very soon.

One year ago today, we moved into a house that we rent from some friends of ours. We did so while Shannon was on her trip to Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York with her eighth grade class. When she left for the trip, she lived in one house around the corner from the school she’d attended since kindergarten. When she arrived home late the night of March 7, it was to a new house and bedroom-just up the street from the school she would attend in the fall.

Shannon is now in high school and finding her place among the masses as she seeks out what brings her joy and what she cares about. As a parent–and particularly one who has a unique inside view to his child’s high school years as I am with her every day at school–I find myself caring less about how great a student she is and caring more about how good a person she is. Surely, I want her to succeed–but I want to broaden the definition of success beyond money-making and career-finding. Good and true happiness is more than a job and a path–it is the journey itself, spread out onto the world and finding places where love, light and joy radiate.

Shannon is about to turn 15 and Sue is about to turn 50. She has wrestled with more health issues this past year and twice was hospitalized. An immune deficiency has caused various strange symptoms and we’re working on controlling those with doctor’s advice. For now, the hospital threats are at bay and we’re hopeful that some of the treatments she’s receiving will begin to have a more positive impact on her overall.

Meanwhile, the rain that was hoped for this winter never really did show, though it rained last night and is supposed to again tonight–but we’re close to spring and the storms that come now are certainly lighter and shorter than they would have been had El Nino made its appearance in January or February.

So this is just to say–we’ve forged a new path and made some new choices. Things that were supposed to occur did not and things that weren’t supposed to occur, did– and so far, none of it we expected. All the more reason to celebrate.


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