I have always loved being near the ocean. I am not a surfer or snorkler or anything like that, but just being near the water has always made me feel at ease. It always has. I can sit and just watch the surf for ages and there are places like Astoria’s Megler Bridge, near where the Columbia meets the Pacific Ocean, where I can just feel the tension melt off me as I get to the low part near the Washington side where it feels like you are just surrounded by water.
So, when it started to dawn on me that it may not be feasible for us to stay in the house I grew up in, I started thinking about moving to the coast. Though I lived near the beach when I lived in California, somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve always had this fantasy of living in a woodsy coastal area in the Pacific Northwest. In my imagination, I have a deck and large windows, where I sit with my coffee (which is amusing as I’m not really a big coffee drinker) and watch the deer stroll through my yard. I take drives down the coast with my mom and we build this pleasant little life where friends come to visit and everything does not feel chaotic like it does here.
I know that some of this vision is fueled by escapism and idealism, but it’s a way to turn something sucky (possibly selling my childhood home to move somewhere with a lower cost of living) into something that gives us the opportunity to release some debt and gain some breathing room, while also fulfilling a wish of sorts. And I do think that the combination of lower cost of living, slower pace, and the restorative properties of the ocean probably would make me feel a less stressed out, but I’m having a hard time turning it into a 100% “Hooray” kind of thing.
I have my days when I am really excited at the prospect of starting over and others when I just want to hide under blankets and not have to deal with any of it. I worry about the effect it will have on my mom (change is not always a friend to dementia and things are going relatively well now), so there’s this constant trying to balance the financial boon with the worry about how she’ll do with a move. On top of that, I feel pressured to move before the Republicans can dismantle healthcare and enact pre-existing conditions clauses that leave my mom without insurance, if try to move and have to switch carriers.
Originally, I had been looking on the Long Beach Peninsula, because I really like it there and it’s close to Astoria. Then, I was shanghaied to the Grays Harbor area, by a house that turned out to be mediocre and on a flood plain, but on the most beautiful piece of land. It turned out to be not for us, but did open the door to looking a little further North. I thought I’d had all our problems solved, when I discovered ocean shores a sweet and delightfully boring looking little coastal community in Washington, where I could take care of my mom, stare at the sea, write, and work at home.
There are a lot of houses in our price range, the lots are private while still being near people, so a nice mix of seclusion and human companionship when you want it. I was ready to go. Then I learned that they have a cap on how many pets are allowed and we have one dog too many. I then started researching other communities around the area and many have the same stupid rule. Getting rid of one of our herd is not an option, so here we are back at square one, looking around the Long Beach peninsula and the options are not overwhelming and I am absolutely terrified that I’ll sell our house and not find something that makes me happy and be stuck. It’s all just scary and there are times when I really hate being the adult and making the hard decisions.
At the same time, I know we’re really lucky to have the luxury of being able to consider selling our house and being able to do so before the cost of caregiving and having dementia drives us out. I know so many people, who are struggling and don’t have that option. Our house nothing fancy, but it still has a lot of emotional attachment. My dad is here. My childhood is here. I never thought I’d be in the position of feeling like I might have to sell it or that I’d be worrying about these sorts of things as I slip into my own final decade or two of work. All planning for my own future has evaporated while I just try to get through my mother’s now.