What is #CancerRoadTrip and how did it come to be? Read this post to get the backstory!
The thought of moving is one that has been building gradually. It was a series of events two years ago that really got the idea moving, even before the tech creeps made the decision a financial fait accompli.
Two years ago, the hose to my kitchen faucet sprung a leak while I was out of town. From Scottsdale I listened as a restoration team cut open my wood floor to discover mold in the crawl space. Obviously the mold needed to be dealt with. But now the wood floor which covered nearly the entire house would need to be repaired and refinished. The kitchen island needed to be removed (and with it the stunning Italian marble top).
I had to locate wood to replace the floor (an exotic African hardwood. If I couldn’t find some in the US, it would be months before it could be shipped and seasoned for installation). I needed to find a new top for the island, have it fabricated and installed. And in doing so, change the look and feel of the entire room that had been so carefully crafted.
Everything from the kitchen island and side cupboards had to be removed. The island was disassembled. The contents of the cabinets were wrapped in bubble wrap, and packed in boxes that were stacked in the guest room and bath. The boxes covered every inch of the room and the bath, from floor to ceiling. And that wasn’t everything. Pots and the items in the lower cabinets still remained in place.
How much did I have in just one room?
Acquisition is the root of all suffering.
While the house was slowly repaired (a 5 week job took 8 months—thank you insurance company), I rented a townhouse in a nearby community. It had a furnished guest room, and functional dining area and kitchen. The master bedroom was locked and reserved for the absentee owner. Two bedrooms upstairs were empty. A small work area was built into the wall next to the walkway that overlooked the downstairs.
The empty bedroom in back faced towards a hill of sage and brush. Some would say it was a plain view. I found it fabulous. It was totally private. I would sit on the floor with Chanel, enjoy the sun, and the view. Chauncy at this point was not well, and climbing the stairs was often difficult for him. I put some of his favorite throws on the borrowed couches downstairs, and let him sleep.
One morning in particular, I recall a scene of such extraordinary beauty, it took my breath away. The sage and grasses that covered the hill gleamed and glistened in the sun, and moved in the stiff winds. It was if I was seeing a different version of reality. Nothing had changed, but the hill was vital and very alive. Was it always so, or was this special angle of light and frost transformative? What limited my vision? Habit, light spectrum, chance?
Living in that little condo, I had almost nothing, yet I had everything I needed. I had my favorite pot, a few plates, the cats. Chanel took to walking the two story ledge overlooking the downstairs, wondering if she could make the jump. Chauncy was getting old and progressively sicker. He started losing weight and simply slept most of the time. I regretted having to move him from his home.
I also regretted that I couldn’t take advantage of the surroundings and walk. By that point my hip had deteriorated (steroids, chemo from the last round of treatment) so badly that I was in constant pain. I could barely get in the car and I couldn’t even walk through Trader Joe’s without my cane and the support of a shopping cart.
I finally moved back into my house (and moved all the furniture from the garage back into the house; unpacked the boxes from the guest room and re-created my kitchen; brought all the items from the condo rental back home). The pain I had to push through was beyond comprehension. The drugs that had alleviated the pain had to be stopped before surgery. My doctor had no idea how I was even able to walk.
In a week, I would be in surgery. I couldn’t wait.
The street to my house climbs a small hill, with a spectacular backdrop of the Sierras. Driving home, I didn’t feel the sense of place that was so important to me. If anything I felt unease, trepidation even. Somewhere in the pit of my stomach, I felt that I had become divorced from my home, from all the energy that had created it and connected me to it. Chauncy was clearly dying; cancer was having its continued impact on my quality of life. Deep in my soul, I knew things were changing.
It took me a year to get back on top of the property, including sorting through all the boxes, moving some things back into the house and giving others away, and restoring the yard and small garden that I had created under such duress just after the first round of chemo. In that year Chauncy–the love of my life– died and, unbeknownst to me, the emotional possibility was truly set for #CancerRoadTrip.