Sometimes I forget where I am. Does that ever happen to you?
No, its not early-onset dementia that has caused by memory lapse, but more a lack of being settled. You see, in the past 13 months I have moved four times… to three states… while living in four different dwellings, spending multiple nights in four others… and I’ve driven five or six thousand miles hauling my worldly possessions between all of them!
So… where am I again? Ha!
This spring has been a really challenging one in my life. Late last year the generosity of my late grandparents allowed me to buy my first house: a fixer-upper. Located just west of Lafayette, Louisiana, near the tiny community of Duson, the double-wide manufactured home was only 10 years old and cost only $45,000. It’s tax value (the very bottom price that the government thinks your home is worth) was $68,000, so I bought a house with instant equity.
Never mind the fact that it had no floor coverings, no electricity in one quarter, a ripped up outdoor skirting, and wallpaper everywhere with cheap trim covering the drywall junctions. Yeah. Never mind that. It was worth money! And with some TLC it could be worth more than double its tax value. So I bought it and then proceeded to buy some tools, building materials, make friends at local hardware stores, and start to work at a pace that my disabilities could handle.
It was a six-month project, I told myself. Six months later I find myself living in a RV park in West Monroe, Louisiana. Things change! The house is nearly done but I have a wedding here on June 3rd and my fiancee needs me to be here the final month before our wedding to settle the house, make wedding plans, be of emotional and physical support, and… well, just be present in her world. So I am! Moved here May 8th, my worldly goods in tow once again, now stored in Shannon’s garage and slowly getting incorporated into her house.
However, I sometimes find myself wondering just where I am living these days. Also I find myself wondering what I am going to do with my days. There’s no house renovation quite yet, though her old 1920s bungalow needs some cosmetic work. I still have cleanup work inside my house in Duson and foundation skirting and a gravel driveway to install outside.
And then there is this mountain property in New Mexico…
Back in 2015… or two lifetimes ago to my recollection… I bought an RV and headed out to New Mexico to buy land (or a cheap house to fix), while hosting a forest service campground, getting balance therapy for my Meniere’s Disease, and enjoying the drier, insanely beautiful and historical landscape. So I went West. After my disabilities ruled out a return to campground hosting, in June I found and bought a half acre of alpine mountain land near Alto, New Mexico. It is a place 7,700-feet in elevation, with wildlife all around, quiet and peace, and a spectacular view of the Capitan Mountains. I spent all summer and the first part of the fall trimming trees, working on a driveway with retaining walls, feeding birds, and really enjoying life.
But after planning to build a cabin on the land this year, another change was thrown into my life. I started a relationship with a woman living in Monroe, Louisiana. By the time October rolled around and the freezes started to happen in New Mexico, I decided I wanted to meet this amazing woman in North Louisiana, so I packed up my worldly goods once again and moved back to North Texas and, then, finally to South Louisiana. I wanted to get closer to Shannon but not too close so early in our relationship. I was afraid that if our anticipated romance didn’t work out I would be stuck in a city unfamiliar to me with nothing to do for work. So I moved closer to relatives in French Louisiana, bought a house project for income, and Shannon and I have had to commute for the past six months. But now I am up in Monroe, with only one more final work trip scheduled for my house in Duson.
So I find myself sitting in a 1993 motorhome borrowed from friends (my trailer needs more work than my house!) and taking a deep breath. Where and I again? What happened?
Life is amazing sometimes, you know?
Gary Ratcliff, a wonderful middle-aged man that Shannon calls, “Mister Gary,” and his wife Sharon own this RV I now temporarily call home. Gary is a potter — a master potter who until a week ago taught pottery and art at University of Louisiana-Monroe. He is also an elder in Shannon’s church. On Sunday, Gary captivated the congregation in the first two thirds of the church service by demonstrating how he “throws” pots and makes jars and cups and so forth. He made numerous connections between being a potter, the role of the clay, and glimpses into his own personal and spiritual background.
At one point in the early stages of the making of a large vase, Gary looked a bit discouraged and remarked something like, “It’s off center. Sometimes when the clay gets off center it becomes harder for the potter to work with it.” He paused, moved the vase-in-progress more towards the center of the spinning wheel, then continued, “But, you know what? A good potter doesn’t give up on the clay. Even if the clay resists being centered, the potter can still shape it into something beautiful. It won’t have smooth edges or perfect symmetry, but it can still be a work of art. Each of us looks different when God works with us. Some are symmetrical, some are wobbly. But all are His masterpieces.”
I’m not sure if Gary said all that, per se, but that was the overall point he made.
Ah, yes, being centered. Oriented. Knowing where you are and that you are in the best place for life as you know it. Sometimes when I feel off-centered, I get a bit wobbly and bent out of shape. This is especially true for someone living with a balance disorder! Shannon has seen me suddenly lose my balance center and fall against her dryer or her table. It is quick and not terribly fun, but a part of living life un-centered, I suppose!
Over the past thirteen months I have felt quite un-centered. I moved from North Texas to New Mexico back to North Texas, to Duson, Louisiana, and now to Monroe, Louisiana. It has been quite a year!
Please forgive me if I respond, “I’m not sure,” to a question of what am I up to these days! I’m just trying to find my physical center. Spiritually I know who I am in Christ and I know what I believe, but sometimes I lose track of where I physically sit and stand, walk and drive. What town is this? Who am I?
Sometimes I guess that happens in the adventure of life!