I have been trying to leave Durango for the past fifteen years. In 2012, I hired three relocation astrologers. The one in Phoenix told me to live on a line from Yuma, AZ, all the way up to Cheyenne, WY. Another one specified places in Alaska and Hawaii. The third man pin-pointed an area on the map incorporating corners of four states. He said that inside that bubble, I could experience what I have not experienced in Durango and that I was lucky—that none of his clients, including himself, had a place where they could get their top three dreams fulfilled.
Immediately after that reading, I had an accident that took a year for recovery. I had already visited areas in Arizona, from Durango down to Mexico, and north from Durango to Wyoming. While I enjoyed the traveling and admired the beauty, none of that felt like home to me.
As soon as I was able, I flew to Homer, Alaska, settled in at the apartment I had rented, and walked down to the tourist center to see what was happening. The women were friendly. They told me the tourist season hadn’t started yet. Even so, there were lots of fun things I could do—like renting a water taxi with a man who counted birds, another one who was taking forest rangers on leave to an island, and attending the “migration of the birds” festival. I listened to lectures on the beach, saw the entrees of the boat-building contest, and so much more than I could have done any other time. I rented a car to drive up the peninsula to Seward and a seaplane (remember Northern Exposure?) to check out Seldovia.
I walked into town from the dirt airfield and found myself sitting on the boards of the marina dock, feeling more peaceful than any other time in my life. It was there that my body felt at ease, that I found the place on this planet that most resonated with who I am. It didn’t take long to explore Seldovia. What a precious, tiny place it was! But chats with the women who owned the coffee shop and the woman in the realtor shop convinced me that if I didn’t come with a family, the winters would be intolerably lonely. The snow could be as deep as eighteen feet!
Disappointed, I gave up seeking other places to live, including those recommended by astrologer number three: the area circled on a map. It wasn’t until 2017 that the Cosmos began shoving me in the direction of relocating to follow that dream.
It was April, and I was showing the studio apartment of the triplex I owned. The last person, leaning against the kitchen counter, pointed to the floor next to the wall across from her, and asked, “What is that?” I got down on my knees and saw a gap between the floor and the wall. It was big enough to slide my hand into it!
A contractor ripped up the floor to see what was going on: three cracked joists, caused, no doubt by a series of events. First was the water damage in the studio apartment. In 1989, I was living in Canada, and the water heater broke in that apartment. The tenant left because the expensive property manager didn’t fix it, and the water soaked the floor. In 2003, developers bought the trailer park behind me and the home across the street to build seventy townhomes, replacing those twenty trailers. Building them on the edge of the hill required pounding dirt with something taller than a two-story house, pounding that ripped the concrete stoops away from my home and caused that settling on the south and west sides.
A contractor replaced the stoops, fixed the joists, and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
In 2013, a developer bought the vacant lot next to me and built two houses connected by a concrete patio, thereby calling it a “duplex.” And they pounded the dirt on the east side of my house. There were four small machines, about the size of a golf cart, and one large one. They pounded the dirt one foot from my wall! And my house “settled” on that side.
Fast forward to 2018. I noticed my floors sloping down from the center on both the east and west sides and, in the center, down from the north to the south side. I learned about “the expert on adobe houses” (New Mexico) and asked what to do about my house settling. He said, “Get a structural engineer.” Coincidently, while I was soaking in Pagosa Springs, a woman sat next to me, and we chatted. Her husband was a structural engineer who lived in Austin. He came to Durango for his son’s High School graduation and stopped by for a tour of my house. He said, “You’ll never be able to sell this house.”
From that point on, every time I went somewhere, I noticed the floor and kept a list of those with sloping floors. I’m up to twenty now, mostly businesses. Despite my casual disregard for the engineer’s comment, considering that four other contractors (now six if you include the guys who bought the house and did their own inspection) have all agreed that it’s “Nothing to worry about. This old house will outlive you.”
That did not assuage the fear I have every time I take a shower. My bathroom is right above the studio, where the cracked joists were found.
And out of the blue, a happily married man I’ve never met invited me to move to his town in Arkansas, which is about a hundred miles from that “bubble on the map” where the astrologer said I could live my dream! He even introduced me to women who could be my friends.
For the first time in a really long time, I felt supported and hopeful.
(To be continued…)
Till next time,
Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi