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September 3, 2009

Yes there are two paths you can go by but in the long run there's still time to change the road you're on

In addition to believing in ghosts and regularly encountering friends and family members with hauntings, many Southerners are also superstitious people. I mean that in the best way possible, because what is a superstition anyway except an ear at the door of the future, listening in?

I myself am superstitious and always have been. I believe that bad luck can run out and in its place you can have a run of good luck. I believe you should listen when the universe sends you a sign or else the signs will just keep getting bigger and uglier. And I believe things happen in threes.

The first thing happened on August 8th. I was out taking a walk in my neighborhood and I saw something awful happen, it was horribly tragic and I will not talk about it but to say it was a Definite Sign. Deep inside, I knew right then I was going to have to move. But because I am the way I am -- a homebody and not exactly embracing of change at all times -- I got another sign the following Saturday when my garden was mowed over. The Universe was really not messing around with vague little signs. I was worried. I wondered if I should start packing.

At work on the Monday after the Great Garden Murder, I confided to my friend Corey that I needed to move before a truck drove through my house or the roof got struck by lightening or something.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Signs! They always come in threes," I said. "I got two BIG ones already and I am not sticking around for the third one to force me out."

We were in the lunchroom, eating at a table in the corner by the window and she just laughed. Corey has the best laugh on the planet.

"No, no way," she said. "Sometimes just one thing happens. Or two."

This is because she is from Northern California and one can only assume that up there they just have their one sign or their two signs and that works for Californians. However, where I am from things happen in threes. I have lived out here for a long time, but I was a Southerner the day I was born and that means you mind your manners, you say yes ma'am and no ma'am and you believe in the law of threes. You can pretend to ignore the signs all around you but they just get bigger until a sinkhole opens up under the kitchen or a meteor drops into your living room. Don't laugh. I am telling you, it has happened to some people.

That very evening I went home and as I was cooking dinner I heard the doorbell ring. My neighbor across the street and three houses down had arrived home to discover her whole house burglarized top to bottom and she was passing out fliers with a notice about the robbery and so on.

I immediately called Corey.

"The third thing knocked on my door!" I said.

I explained what happened, about the robbery and the lady saying there was a wave of crime sweeping the neighborhood (or that's what the police had told her as she filed her report, but it's not a great part of town to begin with) and then I read the flier to Corey over the phone.

"I felt awful for my neighbor," I said. "But I was also relieved because it wasn't a truck driving into my living room at midnight. It's a weird feeling, being sad for someone else and also being relieved but with guilt. Anyway, there's no time to think about all that. Because now I have to move."

And we laughed because I am superstitious and also because I've been talking about moving for a long time and now, finally, the time had come. I wonder if Corey thought I was just being dramatic, I do have a tendency toward the hyperbolic. But when it comes to signs I don't fool around. My philosophy is that when the universe is telling you to get out of Dodge, you need to start boxing up the dishes and get a move on.

Listen, I have loved this house. It was exactly what I needed at the time. My life had crumbled into smoke and ashes and I had no money at all and I was barely holding my pieces together. This little house was as far away from my married life as possible without leaving the county and it was secluded and it was where I sat and cried and smoked and drank and cried and divorced and later it was where I pulled myself together. I have navel-gazed and pondered and gardened and learned to cook and knitted and cocooned and it was just the right place at the right time. It was the right place for a long time.

I'm not sure when it stopped being the right place. That's the thing with signs, we only heed them when we're ready. I haven't fit this house in a while but it took until now to be clear to me. I need a change. Moving is stressful for me and dramatic and crazy and scary and anxiety-producing, but moving can also make you see things differently, and it changes a person, and I need to move on. I simply don't want to stay in the Divorce House forever.

I have a vision for my life -- don't you? -- of how I want things to be "one day." It's that little dream we all hold inside of us, it's how we hope things will be as we move forward. It finally dawned on me that the discomfort and restlessness I've been feeling is because the gap between Where I Am and Where I Want To Be is just too great a distance. I can't get there from here. So I have to make movement toward it, meet it half way, change things up a little.

So I am making a little leap across the unknown into the future and I am moving. I am moving to the cutest little place. And I am moving today! I can't sleep, I have too much to do and I'm too nervous and anxious and excited.

It all happened so fast and everything fell into place just so. Last Monday I made a list of everything I wanted in a new home: a safer neighborhood, closer to work, gated, with stairs inside, dishwasher, fireplace. I wanted one of those Los Angeles fireplaces, you know, where you flip the little switch and magically flames appear. We had one at the old condo before le divorce and the cats loved lying there basking in the heat all winter. I wanted stairs, like a place with a loft or a townhouse-style apartment so the cats could run up and down. Maybe they can go off the dreaded diet food if they get some exercise.

Anyway, that was Monday. I had a list.

On Tuesday I looked at some rental listings for ideas, you know, just to see what was out there. The third ad I looked at was IT. The One. Fifteen minutes later I'd made an appointment to see it. But even sight unseen I knew the moment I read about the place it was going to be mine. On Wednesday I saw it in person and filled out the application. On Thursday I signed the lease and two days later I picked up my keys.

HOLY CRAP YA'LL! Apparently when I actually heed the signs with no bellyaching and just say, Ok! Here we go! everything moves like a waterfall. Is that the craziest thing you ever heard? Who in Los Angeles makes a list like that and finds it in the first building they look at? It is a renter's urban legend.

It has every single thing I put on my list plus a patio! It's gated and secure and there's no one below or above you since the whole thing is stretched out top to bottom with all the levels like a townhouse. I LOVE IT. The building is new and SO CLEAN and I can still have my plants, and I love container gardening so now they'll be on a patio.

The biggest change by far will be my commute. My new place is still in the Valley but it's closer to work and will shave about 45 minutes off my commute each way. Yes, that is 45 minutes less each way. It's closer to restaurants and stores and it's within walking distance to things and the neighborhood is much safer. I'm so excited. I'm also a little freaked out. But I am just going with it. I'm not going to second-guess or give into my fear and honestly, I just knew. I knew the minute I saw it it had to be mine.

Because I am nostalgic and maudlin I tend to hang onto things even once I have outgrown them. I knew for a long time I needed to move but I just wasn't ready. Moving is crazymaking and I've had my moments this past week. Doubt, anxiety, sheer panic. This tiny little house way out in the armpit of the Valley was my little refuge, my little island off the coast of humanity. It feels like I'm moving back to the mainland, which is good but a little stressful. I've tried to stay focused on packing ... packing and labeling and cleaning and sorting. I keep reminding myself that doubt and panic are all totally normal and expected reactions to big change and so when I have a moment of "Oh -- wait -- am I really doing this?" I don't let myself get wrapped up into it and just let it pass. I have never been a fan of moving (though I have done an awful lot of it in my lifetime) and of course it stirs stuff up, this move in particular. I keep remembering how awful it was moving into this house, what a disaster I was, how everything was pear-shaped and messy. I miss smoking. I miss Roy. But mostly I'm just relieved not to be moving out of tragedy this time, but moving out of choice.

Moving was the right next step. Most of my stuff is boxed and labeled and stacked up neatly around the house. There's still so much to do though, moving never seems to end! The truck comes in a few hours to load it all up and move it to the new place. I can't sleep, there's so much to do. I'm moving! It's been five years and it's time. Goodbye, Divorce House. Hello DISHWASHER!

Posted by laurie at September 3, 2009 1:24 AM