PULLING UP STAKES—Part I
By Carolyn Richardson
My decision was made—it had been awhile in coming, but once the actual decision was made, I knew it was the right direction for me. For fifteen years, I have owned just shy of eleven acres in the rolling hills and oak covered meadows in what is often referred to as the Gold Country of Northern California—the foothills of the Sierra mountains. For much of my life, I had dreamed of owning rural country property, where neighbors’ doors were perhaps a quarter mile away or more, where perhaps I’d wake to the braying of a neighboring donkey or whinny of a horse, and where a gaze skyward would reveal hawks gliding the wind currents far above me. I’ve enjoyed just such a country lifestyle, as I watched the changing of the seasons from hot summer days turn to autumn’s gold and crimson tree covered hillsides, from wet and cold and often dreary winters to the green meadows of spring with its array of blooming colorful bouquets. But once I made the decision, I knew it was the right one for me, even though that decision would be affecting seven other people in various ways, a decision that would not be welcomed in their lives. On my 10 plus acres, I had two sets of tenants living in the two houses on the property, along with a friend who stored her motor home on my property, and now all of them would have to move, as I would be—because my decision had become to sell the property, in fact sell nearly everything I own. I was pulling up stakes, and changing the direction of my life once again. Not a stranger to ‘starting over’, some times by situation, sometimes by design, this time I was making a very conscious decision to uproot and change direction completely– moving essentially permanently to San Felipe, Baja, Mexico.
Predictably, my tenants weren’t happy with me, that was certain! I knew this would be an inconvenience for my friend with the motor home. Some of my friends expressed concern, wondering if I was in my right mind. Other friends were pleased for me, almost envious that it wasn’t them moving to another country, another culture. Some family wondered if this was such a good idea. I’d be roughly 800 miles from family. What if I became ill, what about medical care there? Where I have gone to San Felipe off and on for over 12 years on vacations lasting a week or two, and had made some friendships there, still, it’s a long way from family and close friendships in Northern California, a long way from my dancing groups and other groups I’ve become very involved in. Yet once the actual decision was made, it was like a weight lifted from my shoulders. I had already checked with a friend who is a realtor; I’d done basic research about the current homes for sale housing market—currently a sellers market at least!
First on the list of things to attend to, I consulted one of my tenants who I knew loved this property and truly didn’t want to move. They expressed a definite interest in purchasing my property, but over a month of trying, could not raise the necessary funds for a down payment, and in the end had to pass. I put the property on the open market—and within 5 days I amazingly had 4 firm offers! And I am exceedingly pleased with the offer I ultimately accepted.
That began a two month hectic schedule of sorting through things, donating to Goodwill or church thrift shops, and three yard sales selling off much of my furnishings and odds and ends. I also made plans for a storage unit for the things I intend to keep but do not plan to bring with me to Mexico. Add to the schedule various inspections concerning the property sale. And of course continuing with my usual activities. I have been quite active in my dance groups and an officer at my local Grange hall. I not only needed to keep up with previous commitments, but I also wanted to continue being involved, both before the move and as much as reasonable after it.
As the date approached for my anticipated leave taking, various friends assisted in various ways. Dan, who helped me with multiple truck loads of things to the storage unit, to my daughter’s to drop off a few things, and ultimately to the recycling yard for the excess stuff I was getting rid of. Barry, who aided in various ways and who gave me a lot of moral support. Chris, who was my yard sale angel, pitch hitting for me when I needed to be in two places at once. I am forever grateful for their collective help!
I half expected pangs of second thoughts when I signed the closing documents for the sale of my property—but perhaps oddly, I didn’t have one second thought at all. I was conscious of the thought “One door closes, another opens”, and I had fully committed to this complete change in direction in my life. As I surveyed the trees and meadows I’d loved and at times struggled to keep over the years, a sense of overwhelming love for this land I called Briarwood took hold. They represented a lifetime of dreams come true. But a funny thing also occurred—I realized an important truth in life: that when the dream has been realized, fully appreciated, and hopefully shared with those important to me, it was actually easy to relinquish the dream—and replace it with another. Another dream to shoot for, to attain, develop, nurture, and perhaps also have the opportunity to share it with those important to me. I wasn’t giving something up, I was merely trading it for something else that seems to make better sense in my life now.
As I began packing up the car, more accurately ‘stuffing’ the car, full of clothes, personal items, and important paperwork that would go to San Felipe with me, a smile easily came to me. I wasn’t saying “Good-bye”–I was actually saying “Hello”.
Join me for more Diaries of what it is like to Pull Up Stakes!