The Brits say “up sticks and moved house.” I like the way it makes moving sound—active and positive. For several months now that’s what I’ve been doing and trying to stay active and positive.
I am moving away from Pine Mountain Club after 17 years, a village in the central California mountains, where I’ve been very happy. But the mountains—probably the mountains anywhere—are cold and the arthritis is getting me down. It’s hard to type with cold, crabbed, blue fingers.
I know I could be happy somewhere else, preferably somewhere warmer. Many places beckon, Ecuador, Florida, Ontario, San Diego. I know I can’t go back to Santa Monica where I was happy for a generation and was the inspiration of my Dave Mason mysteries. For one thing, Santa Monica has priced me out. And there’s no there there any longer for me.
So Ventura beckons. It’s commuting distance from Pine Mountain Club, coastal California, and warm enough in the winter. I can keep a hand in with all the arty events that I love so much in Pine Mountain. Particularly Basecamp.
Many times lately I’ve had the image of picking up this big old house and decanting all my belongings neatly into cardboard boxes and supervising the loading up and driving off the mountains down the hill to Ventura on the coast. But anyone who has ever moved, and I’m sure that’s all of us, knows the reality is quite different.
The prep work starts with shelves high up in closets going through old boxes of papers and photographs, each of which contains an emotional bomb. Old play programs, ticket stubs, clippings? Keep or throw out? Fondling a broken figurine given to me by someone whom I loved dearly? How could I throw that out? I made terrible decisions and reduced many boxes into a few.
Next was cleaning. Over my life I’ve devoted very little bandwidth to worshiping my Domestic Goddess. And it showed. The downstairs of this house is so chilly, and heating so expensive, I’ve spent little time downstairs. The upstairs where I live was a little better. A loft room is where the cats have their Big Sleep every day. However, people will clean for you, if you pay them? Great, huh?
I try to change a light bulb and the whole street blacks out. But you can hire fix it guys and I found a great one. Better even, his wife is a set designer, and loved the challenge of rearranging my house. I obviously have no taste and less imagination because what she created astonished me.
And Mel Weinstein, a photographer of renown, did a photo shoot that made every room appear lofty, cavernous, and vast. Well, it is a big house, but it is not Versailles.
I knew my real estate agent would be my friends Stacy Havener and Carole Swanston of All Seasons Realty.
The rest is up to me. I have to keep this house uncluttered and clean, which is not my natural bent. Buyers can visit any time, any day. The cat boxes must be attended, my old dog’s pee pads disposed of instantly. I must nourish and maintain the flowers I’ve planted.
Perhaps most difficult of all is yanking out the tap root I put down when I moved to Pine Mountain. I know that Free Speech Theater will go on without me, Open Mic nights, the Clothing Exchange, the Dog Park, and Let’s Live Local.
But friends are not like Leggos. Please tell me how I can plug new people into old friendships that took years to build.