The Irony of Life, Part 18: Grieving and Adapting

this ole house

I’m still grieving the loss of my house, although not selling wasn’t an option.  Built in 1938, it required constant maintenance, but the man who did it was no longer available.  In the months after he left, it got more and more challenging to find anyone to do the job.  If I can keep that in mind, I’ll be all right. But I still miss my precious house and Colorado.

I moved to Durango in 1976 for a job at Fort Lewis College when I finished working my way through two masters’ and a doctorate by waiting tables.  I chose Durango over the university offers in big cities because I’m a small-town girl who loves nature.

The business area was only twelve blocks long; the road into town was a two-lane highway.  Over the years, that two-lane road became a four-lane highway with frontage roads on both sides.  And those bare lands north and south of town were developed with businesses, apartment complexes, townhomes, and houses.

Durango was perfect for me for most of the forty-four years I lived there.  The climate was a drastic change from Texas, and I loved it!  Durango is high desert; day-to-night temperatures can differ by fifty degrees in the winter, maybe thirty degrees in the summer. I loved the weather, including all the snow.  Shoveling was fun, even when I had to lift the shovel over my head to flip the snow off it.


I loved the Animas River, the River Trail, and hiking up the Colorado Trail.  I loved my gardens.


I loved playing tennis with the “level 5” guys, and with older women, models for growing old fearlessly.

I loved having three excellent health food stores within walking distance.

Overwhelmed with grief, every time I was alone, I couldn’t stop the tears.

What I’m experiencing now isn’t only grieving.  It’s also the cumulative stress since I listed my house in February:

  • sitting in my car at the library, waiting for the realtor to text “It’s OK to come home,”
  • driving across states with two cats who had never ridden in a car more than fifteen minutes,
  • moving into a house with so many things that needed fixing,
  • and the unbelievable hassles trying to update my contact information for utilities, banks, Amazon, PayPal, etc.  during the Pandemic.

Add to that “stress stew” the sudden war against fleas for my precious indoor cats in this rented house.

Kali and Bella

But that’s not all.  Try adapting to a place where everything is different.

The first thing I noticed was the streets: two narrow lanes with no parking lanes on each side as we had in Durango.  When someone visits here, they park on the grass!



There are very few sidewalks.  My street has the only one in this neighborhood, and it’s only on my side.  Because the streets are so narrow, I don’t feel safe walking on them.  Fortunately, Spring Park and the Sulphur Creek Trail are close.

The recycling here is only just beginning; Durango had single-stream recycling. I’m still learning how to do theirs–e.g., “plastic bottles if the neck is smaller than the bottle.”

My landlord has the same problems I did finding people to fix things, only they are worse, he says “because people don’t want to work.”  I typed a list of things that needed attention.  He liked it and is doing his best to check it off. But I’m still looking for a place to buy because I desperately need time to chill, and it’s not happening here.

I’m responsible for mowing the lawn which is bigger than any I’ve seen in Durango.  Here,  riding lawnmowers are common.  When the buyers of my house first broke the contract with harassing emails–e.g., threatening to paint my bedroom when it was snowing and changing the locks on the garage–I gave all my maintenance stuff to a contractor friend:  two truckloads full!

One day, a guy showed up to mow for the house next door.  I got his attention and asked him to do mine.  It cost $35 and should be done weekly, he said, because cutting it frequently helps against fleas.  That’s another $140/month on top of my rent.

The tenant pays all the utilities, including water, sewer, and trash.  For those reasons, I’m reluctant to buy a house until I know I can afford the maintenance and upkeep.  There is no “rent income” anymore that paid for such things, including property taxes and home insurance.  I’m learning again what it’s like to live alone in a house.  I had that experience in 1976, but at 900 square feet, that house was half the size of these.

Suffice to say, I’m still grieving the loss of the triplex and “simple living” in Durango.  The town had everything I needed; I could walk anywhere I wanted to go. I never drove more than five thousand miles/year.

Admittedly, the transition would have been much easier had I already identified where I was going.  I thought I could do that from Feb 7 (listing) until March 13 (closing).  But despite hours every day searching online and walking through neighborhoods, seeking “For rent” signs, I couldn’t find a place to live with two cats that I could afford.

I had a big mortgage.  I knew nothing about the closing costs for selling a multi-family dwelling or capital gains taxes until the deal closed.  Discovering that I couldn’t afford anything in Colorado broke my heart.

Foolishly, I trusted the buyers to keep the contract* they signed, allowing me to stay on after closing as a tenant until I found a place to live.

By mid-April, searching for homes in four states, I not only got nothing, but I experienced internet fraud for trying!**  Blame the Pandemic.  And so, because it wasn’t safe for me to stay***, I accepted the generous offer from a married man I had never met and moved to Arkansas…

All boxes are still packed except what I need to take care of me and my cats.  Part of me says this must be where I’m meant to be, and I’m doing my best to adapt.  The other part flirts with buying a van and disappearing.

[To be continued…]

Till next time,

“Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Tzaddi

*Part 4, The Contract

**Part 7, Home-Searching During the Pandemic

***Part 9, Accepting Life


4 responses to “The Irony of Life, Part 18: Grieving and Adapting

  1. Im sorry for your journey Pam! Things will get better. You could always come to Alvin! Not pretty but small town. The little I’ve been to Arkansas it was very pretty. Hang in there!



  2. Sometimes we don’t like any of the choices we have and we just have to take the very best option which may be less than desirable. It sucks when that happens. It’s often not till years later that we understand why all this was so and what benefits, if any, there were at the time. Meanwhile, it just sucks.
    You’re a champ, just getting on with it!


  3. Thank you, Mimi. You’re one of the few who understand, and I so appreciate you! Thank you so much for all your support!


  4. Thank you, Phyllis. What’s somewhat amusing about this journey is that when the Durango realtor asked why I wanted to sell, without thinking I said, “To have another adventure.” But I never expected one like this. Best wishes to you and yours.


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