First 14 Years of the Millennium
We only spent five years in Maricopa. In 2003 he was unfairly discriminated against at work for not being religious and he lost his job. Then we lost our house a year later with no way to prove his case. At that point we decided to leave Arizona altogether. On top of all this, we feared it was only a matter of time before those who legally screwed me in the name of hate and spite might use their connections to come after me again. One of the perps may’ve been booted from the police force, but they still had connections, and we didn’t want to be their sitting ducks, waiting for them to take the opportunity to screw us even worse, or maybe even harm us.
The town was going to hell anyway with more and more homes popping up, land being split, and of course, the good old Mexican drug cartel. Shootings were becoming a regular thing. Had we been in the wrong place at the wrong time to witness something we shouldn’t have witnessed, that would have been our asses.
So the next question was what state we wanted to move to? Did we want to stay in Arizona and just move to another part of the state? Did we want to head to Colorado? Oregon?
Yeah, how about Oregon, we decided. Land was awfully cheap there. We should have figured there was a reason for that, but being the young adventurers we were, we crammed our tiny little RV with our most important belongings one sweltering June day in 2004. Then we headed north to the 2.5-acre parcel of land in the Oregon wilderness we’d “won” on eBay along with the RV. The land was located on Bly Mountain at an elevation of over 5000 feet and was definitely the most remote place I ever lived. Or thought I was going to live. The plan, since we no longer had house payments and utility bills, was to build a dome house.
It was a very sad time because while we were both ready to leave Arizona, I knew I would miss the house and some aspects of desert living. But now we were about to delve into the scary unknown, and to be reminded once again that life isn’t usually what we plan it to be.
The first night we spent in Quartzite at a truck stop in the damn near unbearable heat. Even the rats were feeling it.
“How’s it feel to be jobless and homeless?” Tom asked me when we stopped to eat.
“Weird,” I said. “How about you?”
“It’s exciting,” he answered.
Let’s just say that over the years our opinion has changed a bit, LOL. Being that way by choice and having a place to hole up in is one thing. But when you’re forced to be that way it’s anything but exciting.
So after additional stops in Barstow, Merced and someplace near Redding, we officially entered the Pacific Northwest. The land was lovely and very serene with its wildflowers and butterflies flitting about the junipers and Ponderosa pines, but damn was it cold! Especially at night. I knew that if it could be that way in the summer that the winters would be virtually unbearable. On top of that was the risk of being attacked by bears and big cats, and not being able to get the police out for the better part of an hour in an emergency, not that I trusted them very much after the corruption I witnessed and was a victim of in Arizona.
We also found there was no way to dig a septic, for even with an ice pick we simply could not cut through the volcanic rock that lay below. The expense of hauling water for showers and gas for the generator was mounting faster than we could earn the money to pay for.
By August we knew we would have to abandon the land, the RV and all our grand plans, and head into the city. The tiny town of Klamath Falls was over 4000 feet in elevation. Unlike in Phoenix or even Maricopa, running into people you knew was common there. It was a very depressing time for me because we not only struggled horribly in the beginning financially, but I hated being forced to once again rent, and I feared we would never own our own place again.
We stayed in a couple of family-owned motels, one of them by a really nice Indian family. By Halloween we were able to rent a duplex. We were there for 10 months. Next to us during the first part of our time there was a disabled woman who was quiet except for when her grandkids visited. Then another disabled woman moved in that was never quiet unless she was asleep. She was a rude bitch all the way. She allowed her service dog to bark in the shared yard, blasted her TV, and had obnoxious company of all kinds.
Although it was a tiny tilted old dump at just $450 a month, we were thrilled to finally be unattached from others and to rent a house from the summer of 2005 to the summer of 2007. He’d gotten a huge promotion at work right after we moved in, and I began entering sweepstakes and winning things like crazy. Even big prizes like a Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico in the Grand Turks & Caicos.
While I still hated the cold and the snow, our luck had really turned around. We spent money like crazy and we know we should have saved some of it, but we had fun nonetheless. The only real annoyances were some barking dogs and loud car stereos. During this time we didn’t license and use the old truck. Everything we needed was in walking distance.
Like many little girls and boys that grow up in New England, I’d always dreamed of living in California. In July 2007 it was time to once again pull up stakes for what we hoped would be even more opportunities and make that California dream a reality… even if most of the first five years would be a living nightmare.
We started off in a series of hotels in the Sacramento area, some nicer than others, finally coming to settle in Northgate’s Extended Stay America hotel.
In the fall of that year would be when we experienced what I currently consider to be not my scariest moment in life, but I would say it ranks number three on the list from scary to scariest. I ended up reuniting with my parents after nearly a decade when they came to our rescue as our finances worsened to the point that it looked like we weren’t going to make it. I thought it ironic how they wouldn’t rescue me from the places I was in as a teenager, but 25 years later they would rescue me from the other side of the country. So you could say I had mixed emotions about them. Still do and probably always will. Even so, I was tremendously grateful to them, but this didn’t undo the past.
Fortunately the economy had yet to collapse and he found work just two weeks after our arrival. This was especially good since we were denied unemployment. His then low paying job didn’t come close to matching our high cost of living. We had to pawn some things, and if it wasn’t for me eventually winning $9000, who knows how long we would have been stuck in the hotel since it was sucking up every last dime we had. As soon as we could make the money it had to be spent, leaving the task of saving anything up an impossible dream.
But things got a lot worse before they got better and that was when I decided to take a chance and reach out to my parents. Because they didn’t accept collect calls and we had no way to call them directly, we had to go through my SIL. Of course she and the rest of the family never cared enough to call back and see how we were doing later on after they put the call through to my parents. But they got a hold of them nonetheless and we explained our situation to them. They overnighted us some money and faxed in a few nights at the hotel after we spent 36 hours homeless and just driving around in our old ratty truck.
Our stuff was in storage and for a little while we didn’t think we would be able to come up with a lousy $100 to pay the next month’s rent, but one of my wins took care of that at the last minute.
It wasn’t that we didn’t have money, it was that we couldn’t access it. The fucking debit card company screwed up and sent our new card to our old address, so we had to wait for a new card before we could access the money. It was horribly frustrating, depressing and scary. I won’t even get into how pissed off I was.
Things slowly got better and in April 2008, after 8-9 months in hotels, we found a trailer out in the country in the small town of Auburn, which we would rent for five years. The landlord also lived on the land. He was an efficient landlord, but he sure could be a pest at times, dropping in on us unannounced. He had a loud motorcycle and would let his dogs bark their asses off when he was home. It was sad because he stole what was otherwise a very peaceful setting. The trailer was only 500-square-feet and nearly as old as I was, but at least it was something and it sure beat living in hotels.
During our half a decade there, Tom was forced to spend 2.5 years on unemployment, thus leading to the second scariest thing I ever went through. Our lovely government terminated his checks before he could find work. Yeah, we were one of the Tier 4 nightmares, and my inability to work didn’t help. But if ever there was an example of miraculous timing it was in the fall of 2011 because right in the nick of time as we were about to run out of money and seriously considering ending it all in preference of a quicker, painless way to go as opposed to slowly starving in the streets, he was given a job.
Our trailer years were a time of learning and reuniting for me. Although I would come to regret some of them, I reunited with Andy, Maliheh and my sister. I also made a lot of interesting cyber friends all over the world, some of which let me down in big ways. Perhaps it was naïve of me to think we would always be friends, but even if it was, I was still hurt and angry. I kind of crawled into a shell for a while, knowing that things aren’t always as they seem and that people you can’t see face-to-face aren’t always as sincere as they may seem online. I still hesitate to make friends both on and off-line, though I’m not completely opposed to it. I just don’t actively seek them out. Besides, the best of friendships and relationships are never planned or sought out.
I began to get into online journaling in 2008, though I had been writing privately since 1987. Sharing both journals and stories is how I “met” a lot of people.
The discovery of free language learning sites was a wonderful thing too, and I more than doubled my languages, though I’m not fluent in all of them. I’m fairly fluent in ASL and Spanish, and I know enough Italian and German to get by. I can also read some Portuguese, French, Esperanto and Dutch.
The year 2012 brought a lot of death my way. My parents and brother all died that year. Dad of a heart attack, mom of a stroke, and my brother of liver cancer. It was the first time I was glad I wasn’t close to my family.
The same economy that nearly killed us would be our big break as far as becoming homeowners for the first time in nine years. He began working in late 2011. We were finally able to get some things we’d needed for a while, including some dental work that I was way overdue for. It was amazing how fast our lives took a turn for the better.
Between our savings and the few grand my parents left me, we began to look into retirement communities sometime in late 2012, eventually settling into a place the summer of 2013. We have a beautiful 2-bed, 2-bath home, though I’m astonished by the amount of traffic and daytime noise here, which mostly comes from landscaping sounds.
In January of 2014, we took the $7000 worth of travel credit I won back in Oregon and went on a weeklong vacation in Maui. It was easily the best week of my life. I did things I never dreamed I’d ever do. We both loved every minute of it. We snorkeled, went down in a submarine, and went catamaran sailing. All the while we attended a luau, enjoyed the ocean and the pool at the fancy resort we stayed at, along with dining, shopping and whale watching. The island of Maui and Lanai were so alive with color I’ve never seen anywhere else. I hated to leave in the end and return to cold, boring NorCal.
Everything changed on July 9 of 2014 when I had a traumatic experience with my thyroid medication a few months after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (and high cholesterol). My heart was booming in my chest and I thought I was having a heart attack. I have struggled with the medication on and off for the last three years and dealt with a kind of anxiety I’d never experienced before 2014 during my worst of times in life. It was, and probably always will be, the most terrifying moments of my life. So traumatizing was it that I switched medical groups and doctors, and began therapy rather quickly. I felt like my old team of doctors weren’t willing to be very helpful or informative. My new team of doctors acknowledged and explained what happened and I learned a lot more about the drug itself.
Quite unexpectedly, my therapist and I developed more of a bond than usual, but then she “thought it through,” so to speak. This left me with mixed emotions. I was hoping for at least a friendship, but I also totally understood that she was bound to ethics. I just felt it would have been nice had she not led me onto begin with.
She performed EMDR therapy on me and taught me a few techniques to help alleviate my anxiety, which has been very helpful. I don’t expect to ever go back to the person I was before the trauma began, but I do my best. I have found that PTSD has a way of both strengthening and weakening the spirit.
I also went into perimenopause around the same time and this helped to fuel my anxiety, along with my ADD and rapid HR.
And early 2016 I reunited with my sister for the first time In 25 years. It was quite an emotional reunion. I also got to see two of my nieces. We first went on a cruise to Mexico, which was mostly a shitty experience because I had a heat stroke. The land part of that vacation was definitely more enjoyable than the sea part of it.