I never felt crazy. And I still don’t.
We decided to end the Radical Living Experiment one day early. Let me explain. Having been completely spoiled by parking Baby (the RV we rented) in amazing camping spots throughout Washington and Oregon, the closer we got to Los Angeles, the more crowded the places and the roads became. And while I have lived in Southern California for twenty-two years, it was as if I began to see what has been my home through a new lens, something changing inside me. Like I had taken some hallucinogens and suddenly realized I was living in a world different from what I had thought. It was as if the more connected I had become to my essential self during the five weeks on the road, connected to my true north, the more out of alignment I felt as we headed south towards home. The other drivers on the freeway frantically vying for the best and fastest position on the road seemed like I was living in one of the video games I had tried to play with my kids, never able to master. The litter-strewn about the campgrounds and streets seemed like it had all been supersized like I had woken up in that movie “Honey I Shrunk The Kids,” surrounded by giant-sized cigarette butts and candy wrappers. As we hit San Louis Obispo, we both knew it was time to bring Baby home.
On Tuesday, August 31 we pulled Baby onto our suburban street lined with newly built Architecturals that stood out like oversized sugar cubes amidst the few remaining bungalows and houses built in the 1980s and ’90s like ours. And while it had taken hours to pack Baby up, it took only an hour to pull everything out from what had been our home onto the street. While Jeremy drove Baby back to her home base, I spent the next four hours putting everything back inside, noticing how each item had a particular, definitive place.
I turned from the stove towards the kitchen window, meticulously putting the spices back into their alphabetically-organized spot on the spice rack seeing the green grass outside, missing Washington. And Oregon. And as I returned the grill pan we had used almost daily to its place under the stove I began to realize the depth of what it meant to live inside these four walls. There was a place. For. Every. Little. Thing.
I stood up, looking at the box of oven mitts and kitchen accessories, contemplating what was to come, the Radical Living Challenge, living in an RV for a year full-time. in order to leave the house on Tabor Street, I would have to examine and remove every single thing in this house. From the pens and pencils to the little rock we used for more than a decade to prop open the bedroom door, I was going to have to decide if I wanted to keep it or let it go. To decide if it would fit my new life. And in the process of making those decisions, I would pause, take in its history, touch on its significance. Because everything in the house, no matter how large or small, had a place and was somehow a part of my story.
In order to go through this process with ease and grace, feeling all of my feelings, including sadness, peace, joy, and simplicity, I devised a plan. A way to do it that would involve much more than a list of tasks and dates and scurrying from one moment to the next haphazardly. Like everything that had been part of this Radical Living Experiment, I wanted to do it intentionally.
First, I had to create an intention for the sale of the house. I had to create clarity for the way I wanted to feel throughout the process, as well as an ideal outcome. In order to do that I relied on my daily meditation practice and journaling as the incubator. Each morning I would lay in bed, eyes closed, and connect to that part of myself inside that felt like home, like me. I opened myself during these twenty-minute sessions to receiving any insights or awareness that might guide me in setting a juicy intention. Then, I journaled, asking myself:
What does the house represent to me? What has it given me?
What do I need from the sale of the house? This one was particularly tricky in that I asked what I needed versus what I wanted. A need coming from my essence, a want coming from the ego.
What will get freed up for me from the sale of the house?
Over the course of a week or so I meditated and then journaled over coffee sitting at the scuffed and peeling table in Baby’s kitchen. I realized the house had been the spine of my life as a mother having moved in when my middle daughter, Rayna was one, and my oldest, Kloey was 4. I had my third daughter there, Willow. The house was there for me with consistency even when the men in my life shifted. She was the place I made my own and started living life on my terms for the first time. She was there that night I realized that in getting a divorce from my first husband I would lose the kind of family represented in the photographs that graced the walls. She had absorbed the tears as I cried on the couch, imagining the kind of life my kids might have to have being wrangled from home to home. Tabor Street was where I won my freedom. Where I first felt safe, empowered. She was there consoling me during challenging times when I prayed I had not destroyed my life beyond repair.
The house had been there when I was single, helping me weed out the wrong kind of man by his reaction to her, or who he thought I was because I lived in her. She was the strong boundary I held, never inviting men inside the house when the girls were with me. She was there when I met Jeremy. It was in my bedroom Jeremy first told me he loved me. It was in the garage that I put all his things five years into the relationship when I thought we were done and he moved out.
She had allowed the girls to run through her wildly throughout the years on plastic roller skates and hoverboards and the infamous Razor too, lap after lap through the kitchen and dining room and living room, again and again, and again. The girls built worlds in their rooms with her, creating spaces where their American Girl dolls and Bratz and even Polly Pockets would come to life. She was there while we celebrated birthdays and Valentines Days and Mother’s Days and graduations too. And she had been there when Jeremy and I sat on the floor in the family room shuffling little pieces of paper from place to place as we navigated the difficult challenge of creating the reception seating chart for our wedding.
She had been there for me in my work too. As an in-home studio, an office, a conference room, and an event location. When I finished journaling I realized that the house helped raise me into the woman I had become, as I had raised my daughters, whispering ‘yes you can,’ when we wondered at times over the last twenty-two years if we could.
And throughout those years as I grew and transformed, as the girls grew up into women, and as Jeremy and I created a life together, the physical space of the house changed to fit our evolving needs. Jeremy and I painted the rooms, again and again, designed an English garden in the backyard yard we named for my mom. Transformed the girls’ bedrooms from toddler rooms to bedrooms with an adolescent flair. And as we tore down walls between us we tore down the walls inside the house, creating more open spaces in the kitchen to love and connect. And, almost twenty years after first arriving on Tabor street, finally able to do something for just me, I delightedly built myself a glorious office bespoke with floral wallpaper, a modern, marbled fireplace, and a bright pink accent cushion.
And it was from this place of gratitude and awareness that I sat down and created my intention for selling the house. It wasn’t complex but it was mine, and I read it daily, like one would a blessing, as we moved through the weeks ahead.
I also knew I wanted to find a way to ceremonially transition the house from ours to be free to become the home of someone else, this person with a fervent longing for home and beauty, this person I prayed about daily when I read my intention. And as I had hosted dinner parties regularly, especially since the Pandemic, it was only appropriate to host a final dinner party which would become a celebration of the house on Tabor Street. A way to honor beginnings and endings. The house which had been the place for so many milestones deserved a completion ceremony of her own to graduate us all into the next phase of our lives.
And so there we were, just 7 days after we had unpacked Baby, surrounded by family and dear friends together to commemorate the transition. I both cried and laughed as each person stood sharing a favorite memory of Tabor Street, sharing a celebration of something new in their own life. Lighting a candle to manifest a new dream they wanted to come true. I had worked so hard to ensure that the house itself was left intact until that Tuesday night, we could see her one last time together as the home we loved, with not a picture off the wall or a box anywhere to be seen.
When we moved into Tabor Street Kloey was four years old and I had written down the words she used to articulate her understanding of what it meant to move on a postcard. Holding her little red Elmo she had looked up at me in earnest, “My blanket will come with me,” she said. “My bed will come with me. My toys will come with me. But the walls,” she added thoughtfully, “they can not come with me.”
It’s true. They can’t. But what will come with all of us is that spine. That foundation. That special thing that happens when you have spent time in a place where you feel loved. Because feeling loved is the best kind of foundation to have in order to start something new.