In 2014, Rebecca and her partner John left her lifelong home of Oakland, California in search of a better life. Their journey will take them to the Catskills in New York State, and eventually onto a converted school bus in which they will travel America.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Summer Search

My Unemployment came through after months of fighting. As spring became summer, I paid off the debts from struggling along on no income, kept searching for a job or freelance work, and did my best to regroup with my therapist's help.

I also wrote, and wrote, and wrote: thousands of words every day, which I then spent hours every day dutifully polishing. I finished my novel. Then a joint novel with my housemate. I started working on edits and preparing for submission. Then I started gathering a collection of my previously published writing in the hopes of marketing it online. I hung up my shingle online as a ghost writer to try and start making money. I started slowly getting clients. I tried to focus on that, and not on the setbacks that were pushing the bus plan further and further out of reach.

The first problem came when we discovered that our housemates did not support the bus plan. They expressed little faith in my partner's ability to build or drive a skoolie after watching him struggle with depression over the winter. In addition they were wrapped up in their own projects, and had neither time nor room on their land for another. I had been waiting for my partner to get his license as the first step in the process, but with that happening so slowly I didn't have a leg to stand on when it came to changing anyone's mind.

The second came as we realized that wintering with them in that isolated place, which averages fifteen degrees colder than the nearest city and has no services, was not going to work. I started looking in Kingston in earnest, while my partner worked on getting his driver's license.  We soon discovered that Kingston has almost no rental market. The only feasible alternative was to use some of my savings as a down payment to buy a small home, with payments far cheaper than local rents.  But when I started working on this, I ran into a problem.

My partner wanted to leave the state again. He had no plan as to where, how we would live or what we would do. He simply kept working on me, over and over, to abandon my cats and most of our belongings and wander the country, on my money. The bus had been his idea: he would build and drive it, and I would be able to accompany him because it would be a roof over our heads and I wouldn't have to give up my cats. But now, with no ability to build the bus, he just wanted to go wandering anyway.

I put my foot down. I had already given up everything I knew and risked a great deal to satisfy his wanderlust, and in return he had not even learned to drive yet. I told him that if he wanted to drop everything and drift around, he would be doing it on his own and on his own money.  Meanwhile, I would be staying in Kingston a few years to regroup, build my writing career and try to overcome my driving phobia.

The choice strengthened me. I still couldn't sleep a lot of the time, but I no longer cried for hours on waking. My partner complained that I never agreed with him on anything any more, ignoring that he was making poor decisions that disregarded my needs. I stood my ground, frustrating him endlessly, as he had no sense of compromise and seemed to believe that I would cave in eventually.

I enrolled in a first time home buyer course. I started looking at houses. My partner sulked, regularly taking the opportunity to remind me that he did not support me in my decision. I informed him again that if he didn't like it, he could leave. He stayed.

There are plenty of ways to travel the country without sacrificing stability. One such way is to move from home to home every few years or so. It's not exactly what he wants. It's not exactly what I want. But as I recover from a months-long breakdown caused by my last leap of faith falling flat, time to regroup in a stable place is exactly what I need.

...And no. I'm not giving up my cats.