Sunday, March 27, 2016

360: Tapping Out Full Circle on Sunset Place

The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery,
there comes a leap in consciousness,
call it intuition or what you will,
and the solution comes to you and you don't know how or why.
~  Albert Einstein

Love...Hope...Despair...Loneliness...Fear...Loss...Sorrow...Panic... Sanctuary...Hope, again ...Healing...Recovery...Discovery...Love. 

My paternal grandfather died in 1982.  His wife, my beloved grandmother, who joined him this past October - at the astounding age of 97 - lived, until the day she died, in the house they bought together 50 years ago.   Her home, their home, was my home too.   My Midwest roots are planted in her front and back yards.  Their charming cottage in downtown, Downers Grove, IL was the one constant in my life growing-up. Gram's house was always home-base, changing ever-so little in all those years, except the size of the surrounding trees, and the ruptured gash to the aluminum siding caused by me when I was 19, or rather my car door, rolling down the driveway the corner of the house stopping it, creating the gash.  It's still there.  I love that.  Grams's house was sanctuary.  It was nostalgic.   A loving anchor for my heart, something I constantly craved growing-up amid chronic chaos, confusion, and unwanted change (read:  Little Girl).  But Gram was of another generation, one that wasn't as open to change of any kind, was risk averse, where playing it safe meant protection, yet it also meant limitation of life experience.

When Boomer died, the second most common question I was asked, following, "How are you?" was, "When are you moving back to Chicago?"   Presumptive, isn't it?    Which in theory, would make sense given the back-story of how I came to live in Florida, with Boomer, to begin with (read:  Florida).  But what those well-intended inquirers didn't know or understand, was that staying in Florida, was for a time a safe place, the right place, and the best place for me.  

I remember a week after Boomer died, having a meeting with realtor Sandra, who we bought the house through. "How's the market?" I asked, "I want to sell and get the hell out of here."   Sandra coaxed me off the premature, exaggerated, emotional trauma ledge with the reality that the real estate market, while improved from a year-and-a-half earlier, still had a long way to go.  Then I learned  grief experts advise making no major changes, especially to your address, for at least one year after the loss of a close loved one, primarily because you're such an unpredictably emotional (sometimes irrational) hot mess.  Also, at the time for me, Florida's sunny, warm winters helped keep my physical core temperature up, an odd physical effect I experienced from the shock and trauma of grief -- bone chills -- lasting many months.  Add to that the absence of answers to realistic, common-sense questions like:   Where will I go?   What will I do?   I kept drawing a blank.  If I have no answers, then that is the answer -- don't go anywhere -- not yet.  Stay put.   The expert advice now made sense.  It was too overwhelming to figure out all at once what to do now.  After all, admittedly, I already lived the running-away-from-my-problems approach to life in the hastened relocation to Florida.  I needed time, and in due-course the answers, including whether or not to move, along with the appropriate actions and location would come.  Bit by bit, things evolved in my head and my heart;  I was emerging out of the mental-fog of grief and the small next action-steps continued to present themselves (read:  Partings).   It was increasingly evident, I was growing mentally ready to change my address and was busy applying the lessons learned from past mistakes in preparing to do so.

...and then finally something inside you says it's time to get on to the next thing...
...but if you also know that there is simply no more steam in the pressure cooker 
and that's it's the very best you can do for now -- well?
I think this means that you are done.  
~  Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Sitting at the dining table last July, Martha, a friend, who also happens to be a realtor said, "Shannon, can I ask you a question?" "Always," I replied.  "Are you running?" she asked. It was the most honest and direct question I'd heard in a while.  Appreciating the unabashed up-frontness of it, with emphatic confidence I answered, "No."   "I've asked myself that question too," I continued, "and I am 100% certain, I am not running."  "Good," she replied, "I don't think you are either. I've watched you, and you're ready.  It's time."   It was time and those were  Boomer's words too (read:  3 Little Words) - again - affirming approval through my friend who was now also my real estate agent .  

What Martha observed in me and what I was also feeling inside was that I had emotionally evolved full-circle in the Spanish-style bungalow on Sunset Place and it was time to go and create new life experiences beyond  the ever-lingering shadow of Boomer.  It's also how I am different from my Grandmother, and how different I am from when I first moved to Florida.   Boomer and I hustled the purchase of that house with misguided feelings of love and hope; feelings that within weeks of moving-in quickly turned into despair, loneliness and fear (read:  Reality). Then came Boomer's untimely death, 17 months later, and the emotions of loss, sorrow and panic took over. Throughout the last three years, I have moved along the rails of the circle where the house was my protective sanctuary, providing the space for renewing hope, fostering personal and spiritual healing, recovery, discovery and new-found love -- both for myself and with another (read:  L.G.).  I'd now made it the full 360-degrees.  

Casa for Sale - 2015
The For Sale sign went in the yard on August 18th. "I'm selling the Casa," I said to my friend, Kathleen.  With a mild, breathless gasp she proclaimed, "It's the last thing!"   Hmmm, why yes, it is.  It's the last thing that directly kept me tethered to Boomer and my life with him and I was voluntarily severing the cord. Within the month, an offer was received -- make that two offers.  Though they both fell through for issues unrelated to me or the house itself, the 3rd and lasting offer came the end of September.  All-in-all, quite quick.  Another validation that it was time.

In the months leading up to the sale closing date, my eagerness and willingness to move grew stronger.  At times I was anxious and impatient, usually when the buyers had a delay, three to be exact.  As my father pointed out, something I hadn't considered, is that I am ambitious.  That ambition can also get the best of me, through impatience.    Yet, throughout the process I was learning more lessons too; for example, do not accept sale contingencies when trying to sell a house.  I'd never done this before, sell and buy a property at the same time. Sheesh! It's an exasperating pain-in-the-butt.   In truth, what I was welcoming was Einstein's leap of consciousness; the acceptance that my intuition was telling me that my environment had become a shadow of an old life, and a history that was fading away in practical function and purpose and I was wanting and ready for what's next.  As I continue to discover more about me, and what makes me tick, having a supporting thriving environment matters too. Casa SMO, as I'd come to call the house on Sunset Place, had gone the full 360-degrees with me and was now tapped out (read:  Intersection).    Like an adolescent growing up and out of their shoes, I had mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and purposefully outgrown the house. Unlike my dear, sweet, role-model of a Grandmother, I had come full circle too and was now a different person as a result.   
Residual gift - 2016

I left a residual gift (right) and welcome note for the new owners of Casa SMO with well-wishing thoughts for a future full of loving memories.  The gift was something I'd originally given Boomer many years before, a bittersweet remnant of the life we shared and lost.  After the moving truck pulled out of the driveway, down the street and out of sight,  I sat in my car, parked in front of the house for a few moments alone.  I said good-bye and thank you,  "I won't be coming back," I declared, "We're done here."

While Chicago, and Downers Grove in particular, will always be my home, going back there is still not part of the plan.

It's no use going back to yesterday,
because I was a different person then.  
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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