“Here I am in younger days, stargazing, painting picture perfect maps, of how my life and love would be. Not counting the unmarked paths of misdirection, my compass, faith in love’s perfection, I missed ten million miles of road I should have seen.” The Indigo Girls, Love’s Recovery.
Is there anybody out there who is exactly where they knew that they would be when they graduated high school? Or college? Or 5 years ago?
I’m getting more predictable as I get older, but truly, my life has been one series of surprises after another. We’re about to sell a property that we’ve owned since about 2000; we close on it, Lord willing, on February 28. It was the first house that we bought when we married, and it was on the Gulf coast of Mississippi, where my husband was working as a Hurricane Hunter and I was working, upstairs from him, as an intelligence analyst. We had such plans when we bought that house! It was absolutely beautiful, an old shotgun-style bungalow, about a hundred years old, with a porch across the entire front of the house, hard wood floors throughout, and a huge, old live oak shading it in the postage stamp sized front yard. It was the second street back from the beach, and while admittedly the beaches in Mississippi aren’t beautiful in the ways of Florida or the Caribbean beaches, they have their charms. I used to love seeing the shrimp boats coming in in the mornings, and the pelicans always made my heart happy. Buying the shrimp fresh off those boats made me pretty happy too. I make a pretty terrific shrimp étouffée, if I do say so myself.
And then September 11 happened. I was called back to Active Duty and sent first to Florida where I was promptly put on 12 hour night shifts… with my 9 month old baby in tow. Married to a pilot, from whom I was far away but whose job meant that he flew away to places, with a 9 month old baby that I was still nursing, and how exactly do you find daycare at night? And so, my actual boss, back in New Mexico where I should have gone in the first place, where I was attached as a reservist (oh, the military does such dumb things), stepped in and demanded that I be sent to him instead. Thank God for that man making a fuss. I still had to live in a hotel room for 8 months with a baby, but at least I was working a day job, one that I was familiar with and could actually feel like I was contributing with. There is so, so much more to this story but suffice it to say that it was a rough 8 months. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not complaining. September 11 affected so many and obviously I am one of the lucky ones, but it certainly changed our path forever.
When I was finally released to go back home to Mississippi, it was just in time for my husband to take a job flying U-2s in northern California. No kidding, in the space of one year, I moved from Mississippi to Florida to New Mexico to California! But, we kept our house on the Gulf Coast, intending to go back to it once our tour in California was over. We were only supposed to be there for 3 years. And I had plans for that house, remember?
But then, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. And leveled our beautiful old house. Or at least it mostly leveled it- I had to drive down there with my dad (my husband was deployed at the time) and sign paperwork so that the government could bulldoze the rest, keeping us from having to pay (insult to injury!) thousands to have it bulldozed ourselves. We salvaged the antique chandeliers out of it, and then waited 4 more years for our crappy insurance company to pay us $30K for our house. Yes, you read that right. And we were the lucky ones, once again.
So the fact that, in February of 2018, we’re finally about to sell that empty lot, with nothing left on it but the concrete front steps, is a pretty big deal. I have the signed agreement in my hands, but I will admit that I will be on pins and needles till the end of February when the transaction is finalized. I’m beyond ready to close out that chapter of our lives. I will be at that closing for sure- no long distance transactions for me. I need to see this one happen!
One road trip to Mississippi, coming up.
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