And now for the big news I alluded to on Friday: this past weekend, we moved–much more quickly than we would ever have thought possible, and to a place that meets all of our needs and many of our most important wants. In fact, this move has been a landmark for me, the first time in my adult life (which, at the age of 45, is actually kind of sad) that I’ve gone to see a place, said “yes, I want THIS,” and been able to get it, a place of my own choosing (OUR own choosing) that wasn’t forced on me or left over for me by others. It’s also the first time I’ve lived in a place that wasn’t inherently substandard or malfunctioning in some way, and will be the first time I’ve been able to select everything that went into my personal space, without having to work around other people’s leftover crap.
The actual, physical move was accomplished with the help of a couple of Jo’s friends from work along with a neighbor of theirs (who, as an incredible added bonus, is also almost certainly going to adopt Princess, our breathing-challenged Siamese) in about 5 or 6 trips on Friday evening and one additional trip on Saturday. The securing of our new home, however, is entirely thanks to our gods and spirits, my operational seidhr Work, and the prayers and Work carried out by a couple of friends on our behalf.
Those of you who followed me here from LiveJournal will remember how, when Odin decided it was time for Jo and me to leave Philadelphia to come here to Eugene, everything fell into place with dizzying speed: we sold my house back east, found a house to rent here that would accept our then-population of eight cats and a small dog, and were out here within just over three months of our decision to move. This move, too, bore all of the signs of Odin’s handiwork and once again He warned me not to drag my feet, that I would not like the results if I did.
When we were first told that our now-former landlords here in Eugene intended to sell the house where we’d been living for two years, we assumed we’d need to scrimp and save for months in order to continue paying our rent while saving enough to pay a deposit and first and last months rent on a new place. In fact, at our salaries, and dealing with a rent of $1,150 per month, we weren’t even sure we could do it, only that we had no choice but to try.
I spent a few days combing through ads on Craigslist, just to see what was out there, before we decided we needed to concentrate on saving money and re-homing cats for a while instead, The initial findings were discouraging, with most places within our price range (we needed something with a lower rent per month, since we were barely scraping by with our current expenses) allowing only one or two pets at most. But then I saw a one bedroom duplex listed for $695 per month plus a $1200 deposit, and the owner was willing to consider the dog plus up to three cats. He wanted to meet us, so we went one day after work to see the place, even though we figured it was mostly a waste of time since even if we loved it we weren’t in a position to take it.
We did end up loving it; it was a bit smaller than what we were hoping for, but had both a private, fenced L-shaped yard (plenty of room for outdoor shrines and the new nine herbs garden) and a shared gardening space (our landlords own several duplexes on the street), plus shared gardening supplies including a gas lawn mower), and our own storage shed.
We had been wanting to pare down (and anticipating that we’d have to before long, with my health issues), and this would give us the opportunity to do that while saving hundreds of dollars per month that could then be put towards things we haven’t been able to afford–or have barely been able to–since we moved here: vet trips for the animals, guilt-free spending on religious festivals, clothing and crafting supplies, a driver’s ed course to brush up my skills so I can rent a car for us to take trips along the coast. The apartment was also really cute, with an offbeat color scheme we both liked (cream, eggplant, mustard and tomato), hardwood floors, a bathtub, real wood cabinets that offer as much or more usable storage space as we had in the much-larger house, a closet with deep shelves for mead storage and brewing, a retro 1950s-style kitchen with a double sink fitted with a high-powered light that will be ideal for wet-felting and for hand-felting small knitted pieces, and a dinette with natural light that would make a perfect crafting nook for me. And while it would be more of a commute to work for poor Jo, it was a quick bus ride or walking distance/biking distance to my job, plus walking distance from downtown, the fairgrounds, Dyelots, the fur and leather store, the rose garden, Skinner’s Butte, the Valley River Center, etc, etc, etc…
However much we loved it, though, we had absolutely no money at the time and the owners, while willing to work with us because they liked us, wanted a large amount of money up front plus a firm plan on how we would pay the deposit while staying current with the rent. Also, they wanted someone to move in immediately, which we were not ready to do. Sadly, we turned it down, and then embarked on plan B: a severe money diet and strict budget which would allow us, after several months, to save enough for a similar place (we hoped).
Meanwhile, we started packing and organizing our stuff and found homes for two cats. It was depressing, knowing that we wouldn’t even be able to start putting money aside for a move until we got caught up on our utility bills and began paying our large rent by the 10th of each month as our then-landlords had requested, (They were having financial problems of their own, which I had more sympathy for at the time than I do now, having recently learned that our rent was not only paying the mortgage and expenses for the house but also THEIR rent on an apartment overseas). At the same time, we were faced with tearing our family in two and giving up at least half our felines–all of which made for a very grim living situation. It was difficult not to just give up and fall unto despair.
After about two weeks of this (during which time Odin kept telling me that it would all work out, that I had trusted Him before and needed to trust Him in this, and that we needed to step up the pace with the packing, never mind that we didn’t see a need to hurry), the owners of the duplex suddenly contacted me and asked if we were still interested. They hadn’t found tenants they liked, so they were dropping the price to $675 per month with a $500 deposit and would throw in a washer and dryer for the back entryway too. A quick call to Jo from work: were we still interested? Yes, definitely, and we had saved enough to take it (not only that, but the day after we agreed to take it Jo’s tax refund showed up), but we had only found homes for two cats and they would never let us move in with six. More negotiation ensued, at the end of which they agreed to let us move in with six cats if we brought the number down to two by May or paid a $10 pet rent per month per cat. We upped them to three (since the pet rent was supposed to be a deterrent, not agreement to let us keep as many as we were willing to pay for), with us paying for the third cat permanently after May, and it was a deal. The owner even waived the last month’s rent (unintentionally at first, though he stuck by the initial agreement when he remembered), and allowed us to pay the deposit in three installments over the first three months. There was a little quibbling over our credit records, but a glowing reference from my company’s owners took care of that.
After that, it was just a matter of packing and moving in by March 1st, the date we had agreed on, since they wanted the house occupied as quickly as possible and although we had pre-paid for our last month at the house we certainly could not afford to pay rent on two places. That left us only about two weeks in which to pack and move, and by the end of those two weeks I was more exhausted than I’ve been since the move from Philadelphia. We are here, though, at our new place, which we love, and which feels like home for both of us more than the last few places in which either of us has lived. We have no furniture other than our two bookcases (with half the shelves in both of those currently occupied by shrine space), my mattress, some folding TV tables and a couple of folding chairs, but for the first time since moving here we CAN afford to buy furniture. We are going to do that slowly, though, making sure we don’t “settle” for anything and that everything we bring into our new home is something we want here. It’s important to us both to make this house an expression of who we both are, to fill it with handmade touches either created by us or bought in order to help support other local artisans. The only downside is that there is no room for a dedicated temple space or oracular seidhr area, but that only forces us to get creative in laying out and designing our space when it comes to shrines, and a permanent seidhr space won’t be needed since I’ll only be doing the full ritual three times a year. And traditionally oracular seidhr was very much an ambulatory rite anyway, performed at need and not confined to a specific place or locale as were some of the other prophetic systems of the ancient world.
This, finally, is the fresh start both of us have needed so badly for years now, and although 2011 got off to a traumatic beginning (and we are not done with the trauma yet, since more of our cats will still need to be re-homed in the coming weeks), things are definitely looking up. Finally, all the pieces are falling into place for me to be able to start living the life I promised to live at the end of last year.