During an astrological reading, I used to be fond of telling my clients that to access a particularly destiny-oriented point in their charts, they had to be willing to take a leap. The way I illustrated what that leap might feel like was to use Cinderella as an example. She had to be willing to believe that somehow, even though she couldn’t see how, a pumpkin could be come a coach, and white mice become white horses? If she refused to at least wonder how it might be so, she’d never have ended up at the ball.
In other fairy tales, we often see the scenario of the 3 Wishes. All of these stories are about how we must be present with our wishes, and generous, too, with what the implications might involve. Often, wishing is too tightly bound to the agitation of the moment, and then expansion of view is what must be learned.
I think fairy tales have these lessons in them for a reason. Just a day less than a month ago, I was walking back to the beach house my daughter-in-law’s cousin owns, where we were guests for the weekend, and I happened to look up beyond the beach and see a trailer park nestled above the rocks with what seemed like a spectacular view of the ocean, which that day teemed with seals playing in the waves just beyond our reach. Everywhere I looked there was magic.
As my eyes made out the trailer park, I had the fleeting but full-hearted thought, “I wonder what it would be like to live there.” Then, of course, I promptly forgot.
But I didn’t forget how well I slept at the ocean, how even recovering from deep dental cleaning I’d had the previous week I had no hot flashes, and my nervous system seemed to settle down into a relaxed groove. It was so obvious that my family and I began to discuss the possibility of what it might be like for me to relocate in that direction. We were thinking perhaps next summer. The trip home was filled with the discussion of this possibility.
With all this in mind the next night, I thought I’d do some internet “dreaming” and google what might be available in the general area we had spent that weekend. I was thinking “house” and “next year” but just wanted to see price ranges, layouts and beach access. The very first thing Zillow coughed up was a single wide trailer in a place I’ll call Holiday Home. I was unmistakably drawn to it, though it took me a while to realize it, because it wasn’t in my register of what I thought I was looking to discover, and when. But I had somehow forgotten to close that first page, so every time I clicked on something else it was still there. Finally I looked at it again. I saw it had a good yard with a fence that would safely enclose two dogs. I saw it had a lovely and sturdy front porch. I saw it had a light and airy kitchen. I saw that from the living room and kitchen you could see a piece of the ocean out the window. I saw that it had been substantially remodeled in its fundamental structures like roof, wiring, siding. And I saw, that I could almost, perhaps, somehow, buy it right now.
At first I resisted. That isn’t what the plan was. Still, there it was, even though I slept on it, even though I told myself you have to wait until next year. Finally I asked my son and daughter-in-law if they thought I should call. Perhaps just humoring me, they said, sure, why not. Kelly looked it up and discovered it was on the same beach we had walked and sunned and sanded on, that we had in fact walked past it. And then I knew. It was in the very same trailer park I had looked up and wondered about, my heart open with the wonder of possibility.
I decided it was important to at least go see it. My kids, being the great kids they are, humored me once again and drove me back out to the coast to do so. None of us expected to like it as much as we did, but somehow it was even more cute and more sound and better than the photos.
I couldn’t really quite afford the asking price, but the realtor had told us the seller was wiling to come down on it. She lived very far away and could not afford to come out to the Oregon Coast any longer.
So on the way home we came up with a low ball offer that I could afford, not knowing whether it would be too insulting to be accepted, or whether I’d actually have a chance. Imagine my sense of wonder expanding when we were able to agree on a purchase price just $500 above what I offered. We closed on August 31.
Like the fishermen and the petulant princesses in the fairy tales, I had to be willing to expand my view, both of what I could afford, and how I ought to do it. In the end, it will be a slow miracle process. It will cost me a little bit of my retirement to do so, but I will keep both my place in Portland and this one until next summer. I’ll have the turn of the seasons to decide if this is where I want to be, and if it is, then I can sell my place in the city and live at the ocean full time.
Some people say I won’t like the winter. But the people who live in the park that I’ve met so far all say I’ll love it here any time of the year. The best part is I’ve given myself time to find out for myself.
This morning Romeo and I walked on the beach together, the first morning after the kids returned to the city, leaving us to stayin our new place for a while. The water was several different shades of blue, and the waves were breaking in dramatic bursts of foam. We headed north on the beach because I wanted to retrace the steps back to where I’d first seen this stretch of ocean, where I’d made some simple charcoal sketches looking down at the beach.
More than seeing what I’d sketched again, I wanted to meet up with that alternate self and thank her–the one that walked over to stand at the top of the staircase down to the sand, just minutes before heading back to the city, the one who blew a kiss out to the waves and said “I’ll be back.” Little did I know how soon it would be, how the spirits of the seaside heard my wish and helped the universe provide just the right place. I just wanted to loop back in wonder and thank that part of myself for opening up the possibility which now is quite real indeed. I traced that energetic trajectory in the physical by picking up a rock, a piece of shell made into an angel’s wing and a tinier rock much closer on its way to becoming sand: the large one at the place where I looked up, the angel’s wing about half way back to where my beach access is now, and the tiny one in the course muddy sand that leads up the hill to the park. Each of them literally shouted at me to bring them with me as evidence of a wish come true. They remind me our wishes and wonderings have “weight,” that it takes some ethereal “lift” to set them in motion, and finally a willingness to trust that large magnificence can manifest from what is seemingly tiny.
Of course it will take a while to fully sink in. But that’s what this next year is for. And while some my age and older are fashioning ways to “age in place,” I seem to be accessing an internal gypsy. I had to confess to a friend who is very much an advocate of aging in place, that although I’m an advocate too, too, at least in principle, in my particular case, it’s sort of cracking me up to realize I’m dong a terrible job of it. This mystified me at first, since I am not the one among my friends who globe-trots to swim with the dolphins or hike in the wilderness. It helped me feel a lot less strange, though, to discover the seaside I’ve chosen–or that chose me–is also considered the whale watching capital of the Oregon coast. The great gray whales themselves migrate up and down our shores, and come very close to let their babies sleep in the kelp beds off an underwater shelf. There’s even a resident pod, who for whatever reasons, some say because of fatigue and scars battling orcas and other rigors of the long journey from Alaska to Mexico, choose to stay off our shores year round. So whether I stay or go in the end, I have the example of these magnificent creatures, reminding me we are all on the move, always, however slowly, and home can be in each and every step of the way.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the significance of what my daydreams hold, and for how long they have lived as a part of me. I am particularly good at hiding such things from myself in the hustle–and sometimes struggle– of making the every day necessities work. But truth be told, long ago, as a graduate student driving up and down Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California, I would often pass a trailer park perched on the very edge of the sea and wonder what it would be like to live there. Many years later I heard it was removed to make room for oceanfront mansions, and I mourned that transition. I laughed to myself that even before I got to graduate school, reruns of The Rockford Files showed me that James Garner’s character got away from it all by living and conducting business in a little seaside trailer, where he put up with his rather salty Dad. He got a lot of his best insights about solving cases out in that sea air. I also spent a lot of time as a 20 something walking on the beach, or just staring out into the vastness of the water. So this is a slow motion miracle in more ways than taking the year to migrate back and forth before choosing.
The beach I walked on as a young woman in southern California had the shadow of Catalina Island out on the horizion. The Oregon coast has no such island or landmark out to sea. It is all rocky, sandy terrain, coves and trees along the edge and nothing but ocean and sky on the horizon. Forty years out from my 20’s, it seems fitting that at this stage of the game, I would want to look out on the completely open sea. I wonder what will come of that. . .