We’d been needing a new vision for our family. Something different from our super-cute but wheelchair-impossible Portlandia bungalow. We meant to stay in Portland, we really did. But by the time we doubled the price we’d paid in 2007 and set our criteria for a mostly-non-fixer, wheelchair-doable, big yard, close-ish neighborhood, well . . . let’s just say we could have doubled our monthly payments and still gotten maybe only half of what we really wanted. We craved something to make us giddy with its garden possibilities, and have big enough rooms to spin a wheelchair in like it’s no big deal. We wanted to be in a neighborhood that would get to know us, become familiar with our family and say hi, especially to Lydia. We wanted peacefulness. Somewhere to become our forever home. Our very patient and determined realtor took us all over the city. Nothing felt right. Maybe we just weren’t ready, I don’t know.
And then something happened to give us an excuse to look somewhere new. Mark went back to his old job in Salem. Salem is an hour away from Portland so reducing his commute moved to the top of our list (well, maybe second after wheelchair-doable), and we – every thanks to our amazing realtor for not firing us at this point – expanded our search down the Willamette Valley. She didn’t even blink when I told her we were completely changing our search area. She may have laughed though.
We found the house on my birthday (yes, we spent my birthday house hunting) and we moved in by Mother’s Day. (Yes, we spent Mother’s Day moving boxes – though thank goodness many friends turned up to help!). It was worth the wait. Our new house is exactly the retreat we’ve been craving. The front garden is surrounded by trees and is flush with hummingbirds. The backyard is just over an acre and large enough for our dream vegetable garden/chicken coop/fruit trees/grapevine hobby farm. When we come home, we wheel Lydia through a garden arch, down a curved concrete pathway and right through the front door. Nothing could be easier or more pleasant. No wrestling her chair up the stairs or angling to get her through the narrow front door. Our new home just fits us like we’ve always belonged. We can turn her wheelchair in a circle in the kitchen, it’s that spacious. She can keep us company while we cook. She can sit right where the action is in the living room without her chair being too crowded or awkward. Jack can make forts around her with the couch cushions and blankets. They sit in the fort together, watching her vision therapy lights. I admit, there are stairs. Eventually we’ll have to figure that one out. But we can easily have her bedroom be the on the main floor. For now it is a guest room, which turns out to be very useful when one moves away from their dear friends.
Kids on the front walkway
Okay, so I was nervous about moving to a small town, even a charming, semi-touristy one like Silverton. 10,000 people. Gulp. Embarrassingly, I called the local hospital because I was worried it doubled as the local veterinary/post office and I wasn’t sure they could handle seizures. Once the woman understood that I wasn’t calling about an actual emergency (“ma’am, is someone having seizures right now?”), she patiently reassured me, “We are a fully accredited facility, ma’am. We see all kinds of emergencies here, including seizures.” Oh I’m such an ass!
Anyway, I’d take a vet as my doc just for this beautiful landscape.
Farm fields up the road from our new house
Before Lydia I would have felt guilty living somewhere I enjoy so much. Not that I feel I’ve paid my dues now or something, more that these last years have taught me that life is hard enough so go ahead and enjoy your moments of luck. Previously I have tried to choose good things for myself but deep down I didn’t feel I deserved good things. Too luxurious. Blame it on a lifelong habit of self-depreciation and a hair-trigger empathy for misfortune. I didn’t know I could change. I’m 36, I figured things were pretty much set. But I’m unabashedly going to enjoy this new house because I’m getting over my habit of making things harder or crappier than they need to be just because I feel guilty, darnit. So there.
There are blueberry bushes by the front door and we’ve been eating handfuls of their sweet plumpness every day. The first week we moved in, Mark looked up and saw three deer standing outside our living room window. We’ve seen them again a few times, the best of which was when my family was visiting. It was a special moment watching deer in our backyard while holding my grandma Lydia’s hand. Yes my 90-year-old grandmother came all the way from Salt Lake City to visit us. See how much good luck we are having? Time absolutely stops here and I haven’t looked at the news in weeks. I’ve been too busy watching the hummingbirds every evening and working on my blueberry pie skills. Anytime you need a break from it all, stop in and let me feed you pie and tell you too much information about the life of hummingbirds. We’ve found a sweet little retreat for our new home. I am so grateful to be in this new house and full of thanks for being able to enjoy it with my little monkeys and my dear husband. A couple years ago I never thought I’d say this again, but life is pretty sweet.