A few weeks ago we considered moving to a town 2800 miles from here. It has sunshine plus affordable housing and water. There was the possibility of a job. My husband liked the people he spoke with there. The satellite view looked good. I thinned our belongings and prepared to leave.
In the end we decided to stay. Robert would rather rent a home, ration water and work for this small company where he knows everyone than buy a house, have a reliable water supply and be an anonymous cog in the belly of a multinational corporation.
I decided that a happy husband, thriving children and warm community relationships trump my fantasies of home-ownership. So I gave up on the idea. I can even live with the BIG drought and uncertainty in our water supply. We let those birds of possibility fly away.
I especially felt relief when I released my desire to “own” a building and a chunk of land. Aside from house-wants, I and mine are happy living right where we are. It was those nagging weeping house-wants that unsettled me enough to consider a 2800 mile move.
It’s possible that my desire to own another house is not simply my own. It could have been seeded through the mass brainwashing (marketing) necessary to take over and maintain control of our great people and continent. The “Go West Young Man” campaign of our pioneer and westward-expansion days survives in the “American Dream of Home Ownership”. And our current myth of “economic recovery” rests on each American dreamer taking on a lifetime of debt to become “home owners”.
But it’s possible that my recent itching-niggling curse of “house wants” is just a individual materialistic vulnerability. Maybe it’s just ordinary human greed. Or maybe the house-wants bloomed from the night soil of too much traveling without any home to come home to.
During one recent year my family of four lived out of five suitcases in a series of eight different furnished rentals in two countries. I carried my four best kitchen knives taped into a cardboard sleeve. I policed our luggage to keep it efficient. I learned what it’s possible to do without.
But however I came to be infected with the house-wants, letting go of them has set me free to enjoy life more. But even as I’ve moved beyond my house-wants I’ve been left with a residual uncomfortable restlessness.
Our individualized cultural training would have me believe that these feelings are uniquely my own. Modern medical psychology would wall me off from all other humans and brand my feelings as separate, individual and mine. I’ve been taught that we each live encased in meaty bunkers and personal boundaries and are 100% responsible for our experiences. Officially my feelings would either be classed as neurotic anxiety caused by some forgotten childhood distress or as a chemical imbalance in my brain caused by deficiencies in my genetic heritage.
And perhaps my unsettled feelings are uniquely mine. It’s possible that my individual life experiences or the random biology of my birth have made it feel more normal to be an arrow in flight than to be housed tight inside a quiver.
But perhaps this restlessness I feel is part of a more widespread phenomenon. It could be a symptom arising from the fragmentation and death of community and family relationships caused by industrialization. Or maybe these feelings bubble up from the hot compost of uncertainty in our troubled economic times. The feeling could also be blowing in the wind like the dust from our BIG drought. It could be a contagious human herd survival impulse toward migration.
After all, there is this BIG, persistent and worsening drought that chews great hunks from the economic foundations and livability of California. I and my family and 38 million other people may soon need to decide where else we can go live just to survive.
Yes. I gave up on buying a house. Yes. We decided to stay put. Yes. I feel relief from these decisions. But yes. I still feel mildly unsettled, disoriented and watchful.
Even as I spend my days enjoying life and growing roots, I feel as if I’m waiting and listening for a signal that it’s time to leave. But from whom and where would this signal emanate? And what would this signal look or sound or feel like?
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Thanks for reading.