Like everyone in Florida after the recent real estate crash, my parents are renting a house in one city and renting out both of their own fully-paid-for houses in two other cities. Between their rent and my sister’s rent, and the income, they achieve a wash. The market is beginning to change in some areas and houses are starting to sell after about five years of stagnation. My mom’s landlord has decided to put his house on the market and asked my parents to move out. I tried to tell her that this could be a good thing. She could end up being in a great, new home; maybe with a nice neighbor who becomes a friend and they have tea together on the porch, maybe she will be closer to the barn. Good things are waiting for her, but she is too traumatized to hear me.
She told me (and the Universe) out loud what she wanted: a farmhouse in the country, closer to the barn where she keeps her horse, but also with a yard big enough to stall him when he retires, 3 bedrooms and an office for daddy, and more details about the yard and garden. Within a day, the real estate agent found that house and we all went to see it. I think it was exactly what mom asked for. And it was in their price range. Also, it had been vacant for 18 months, which is good because there was no existing tenant to deal with and the interiors could be easily painted boring white.
I asked her if she saw the statistical, astronomical, fortunate implications of finding exactly what she asked for in the very first house she looked at? She blinked at me in incomprehension. Oh, well.
Now a diatribe about my family and moving.
By the year 2000 CE, I counted that I had changed residences over FIFTY times. That means: packing all my belongings into boxes, taping them shut, and labeling them; holding a garage sale or purging precious belongings to the Salvation Army; having the boxes transported to the new domicile (often by renting a U-Haul), and filling the new place with boxes. Then the absolute worst part: unpacking. Fifty times I did this in 30 years. (I gave up counting after the “new” millennium.)
People always ask me if I am an Army brat, but I’m not. I think my mother wanted to keep moving because she was unhappy with herself and she hoped the grass would be greener in the next place. We never lived anywhere for more than 3 years until I got to high school. Both my brother and my sister had to change schools, hell, change countries, in the middle of high school and were traumatized. I alone got to complete high school in one city, although we moved 3 times in those 4 years.
The worst year for me was 1972, the year they got married. I went to three different first grades that year. When I got raped by a neighbor, I guess they assumed I was acting out because of the new surroundings. I don’t think they cared so much, really. I was just labelled “a problem child”. I should write some posts about how they treated me that year.
The result of all that moving was that my mother, my brother, my sister, and myself are all traumatized when we have to change residences. My brother became a drug addict at age 14 and lost a decade of his life to crystal meth. My sister’s mental health is so complicated that I can’t even get started. As for me, I learned not to make friends. The good news is I became an avid reader of books, especially the mythologies of every culture, including Middle Earth. (Yes, I find nerd boys very sexy. And nerd gurls.)
I remember a crucial moment in my self-development. I was 9 years old when I started 6th grade, which was 2 to 3 years younger than my classmates. We had a substitute teacher one day and she wanted to show us how we could tally things up in tables and then compare values. She used the example of age. She went around the classroom and marked in two columns whether each pupil was 11 or 12 years old. As usual, I messed up the curve and immediately became suspect. As long as I was behaving like the older classmates, they were willing to accept me, but once I was publicly singled out as being abnormal, I was avoided. I wasn’t entirely ostracized. I did get invited to one Halloween party that year, but I was so debilitatingly shy that I could hardly play with the other girls. It was sad. There were no more invitations after that. I responded to that whole situation with one of the best decisions of my life. I decided to accept myself just the way I was. Nine year old Rebekah told herself,
Okay, so I’m weird and I’m not cool. I won’t ever be able to fake being normal like everybody else, so why even try? I choose to be the complete weirdo that I am and accept that I am a freak of nature. Maybe someday when I’m older, I’ll meet other freaks like myself and then I can be friends with them.
And I happily skipped off to the library in search of a book about Perseus.
The immediate result of me being so relaxed about my weirdness was that next year, I made two good friends, Linda Lank and Hamadi Hassan, and we had a lot of fun sending each other notes from our fake boyfriends. We named Linda’s boyfriend Randy, because we thought that was a hysterical pun, and my fake boyfriend was Luke Skywalker (of course). I had a good time with my books and my two friends for two whole school years until we moved to another country.
By the time I was 15 years old, my lifedreams were about stability, having children, and owning a home with a white picket fence and a porch with a swing, a home where I could grow old and become part of a community of neighbors. I would have backyard BBQ’s with lots of friends and everything would be hunky-dory.
I’m 47 and I am still waiting for that home. I had it for about six months in 1996, but it didn’t last. Then when I married Driftwood, we had the physical house and yard, but nobody was willing to come visit us! Oh, I have some really funny posts in my head about what happens when guests are confronted with a narcissist’s behavior.
I only ever had one “home” in my life and that was Gramma Ruth’s house in the western suburbs of Chicago. Every year until I was 18, my parents sent me to my Gramma and Grampa’s house for the summer. This was the source of stability in my life. My grandparents loved me so much and so openly. They hugged me and kissed me, listened to my stories, asked me about my friends, talked to me, taught me to pray, and took me to the candy store. What a lucky child I was to be so loved. Feeling loved makes all the difference in the world. I always assumed that I would buy that house and raise my children there, but my aunt sold the house after Gramma’s death and I couldn’t stop her. Even just yesterday, I dreamt I was walking through that house. In my dreamworlds, Gramma’s house represents my SafePlace. I always go there when I need healing. I think that’s pretty cool.
In any essay about moving and the trauma of instability, I have to mention Israel. Obviously, as an observant Jew, I believe I belong in Israel. When I lived in Tzfat, I didn’t view Israel as my home, I viewed her as my lover and I feel tremendous guilt about not being with her right now while she is at war. My situation is complicated and I must wait. I just wanted to mention that Israel makes me feel calm and surrounded by love, and I intend to blog about that in the future.
To wrap things up, my mom has to move and she is freaking out. She decided to reject the farmhouse that the Universe offered her. She has been lashing out at me. I have been needing more Xanax because I feel brittle, and the whole situation is too much. I am so happy that I have final court with Driftwood in 25 days. Even if I lose every financial asset and every family heirloom, I will still win my freedom. I am counting the days until I rebirth and it is not far off. 5775, bring it on! I know it’s going to be a good year.
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