My People

My People
My People - Cosette, Austin, Oliver, Cody, me & Ryan. Just think, had I not lived, these people wouldn't be on the planet. They are my whole heart!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Gypsy Life


  • My parents bought their house in 1976 and they have lived there ever since. 
  • I lived there until 1986 when I married the kids' dad and we briefly moved to his mother's house. Her plan was for us to pay 2/3 of the household bills since we were 2/3 of the household, which worked out to $90 a week. I made $185 a week (before taxes and insurance) working full time at Life of Georgia. The kids' dad was still in school and worked part time at a gas station. On top of paying 2/3 of the bills... we were required to do chores and had rules and a curfew, etc. I went from living in my parents' extremely organized home to living with a hoarder. We lasted six weeks with her.
  • We moved back to my parents' house and lived there for a year. It was convenient because my mother kept Ryan while I worked and he never really had to get out. It was inconvenient in that my three little brothers were still little and so we had 8 people living in a house with one bathroom. We paid $30 a week rent. 
  • In April, 1987 we moved to our first apartment off Flint River Rd. Our rent was $330 a month.That apartment had a leaky air conditioner which led to a severe mold problem. Ryan had horrible asthma and was always sick - the mold made it worse...
  • So we moved in 1988 to Stratford Arms Apartments on Valley Hill Rd, right across the road from my parents' house. Our rent was $430 a month.
  • While helping some friends move into a trailer, we found some really cute houses for sale and found out that we qualified for a mortgage. We moved into our first home in 1989. The house was $69,900, a little 1200 square foot ranch house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a two car garage. We fenced in the backyard, painted our rooms, brought home two new babies and lived there until 1999. Our mortgage was $660 a month.
  • In 1999 we had gotten so far behind on the mortgage that we did a short sale and moved out. We moved into an older but much larger rental home. It's owner and previous occupant was a race car driver so he had a huge, huge, huge separate garage that was about as big as the house. During that time our friend Scott's marriage fell apart and he and his son moved in with us, with most of his stuff going into that big garage. Our already fragile marriage couldn't survive the disappointment of losing our home and on May 8, 2000, the kids' dad left. I forget how much the rent was there.... probably around $600 a month.
  • At the beginning of June when I paid the rent, the landlady said that she rented to a family and since I was now a single mom, we had to move. She gave us thirty days to be out. I now know that she legally couldn't do this... but at that time... I was overwhelmed by the circumstances and just moved my stuff to storage and my kids and I moved in with my parents. It was crowded. Cody, Austin and I shared a double bed. The kids' dad left most of his stuff, our friend Scott left a lot of HIS stuff and unfortunately, we when moved, because I had little help and few resources, a lot of stuff was left behind at the rental home. I was THAT tenant and it embarrasses me to this day. 
  • In September 2000, with the help of my parents, I bought a nice, double wide trailer and moved into what was then the nicest trailer park in the country. Seriously... they had won that award for five years in a row but never again after we moved in. Not that we had anything to do with it. My mortgage on the trailer was $525. My lot rent started at $285 a month, which included water and trash pick up, but it steadily increased. The cardboard castle served as a great nest for me and the boys, even as the neighborhood deteriorated. The stove quit working. The dishwasher quit working. There was a leak in the boys' bathroom that rotted the floor. The windows leaked. The a/c quit working and we lived without air for two years until the friend of a friend fixed it for us for free. The school system deteriorated. Austin burned the living room carpet in 12 places. Austin caught the front porch on fire and melted the siding. 
  • And then, in 2006, I met Michael. We spent a lot of time together at his home in Alpharetta and ultimately we moved in together into a really nice home in Woodstock. I believe the rent was $1300 a month. I moved most of my stuff into storage (with no help from Michael) and tried to sell the trailer (with no help from Michael) . The problem was that we were upside down on the loan... the neighborhood was so bad that nobody who wanted to live in the trailer park could afford to get a loan for any amount of money that we could accept. The trailer was a huge, huge, huge bone of contention between Michael and I. He refused to marry me (my condition on moving in with him) until I sold the trailer because he didn't want to marry someone with so much debt. (this was also the biggest lie of our marriage, as he himself had over $50,000 in debt, as I later found out). I spent my weekends putting up flyers, getting the trailer painted, replacing the carpet, repainting the decks. Ultimately... we made an agreement with a consignment dealer who moved the trailer to her lot and at least spared us the expense of lot rent. Also, ultimately, this woman lost her business and the trailer was sold, illegally, at auction. Because Michael had a whole household of stuff in much better condition than mine, most of my belongings were given away, sold or thrown away. 
  • Michael took a job in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2007. Initially the plan was for us to sustain both the house in Woodstock, Georgia and a place in Jacksonville, Florida. We got married. And then when I had some problems with the kids, Michael insisted that we move to Jacksonville and... just like that, we moved. Quickly. So quickly that on my first trip to Jacksonville I forgot to pack my underwear and had to buy all new in Jacksonville. It was just Austin and myself, making a long drive to a place I had only been once, in a town that I was completely unfamiliar with, arriving at 11pm at night. We later made a trip BACK to Woodstock to pack,  but the bulk of the stuff there was moved by Michael, his brother Tim and a guy they paid to help them. It was a truck load of a mess that mostly got stuck in the closets in our Jacksonville condo and/or stuck out onto the lanai until the Condo Nazi's busted us for having stuff stored outside. I got a storage unit and moved (by myself, with no help from Michael) as much as I could there. As our marriage deteriorated I began moving more and more of my personal stuff into the storage unit in case I had to make a quick getaway. Our rent at the condo was $1100 a month. The cost of my storage unit was $100 a month.
  • When the wheels came off my little red wagon in Jacksonville in 2008, and I knew that I was not going to survive being married to him... my brother, my two oldest sons and my dear friend A.T. checked me out of the mental ward (literally) and we rented a UHaul and moved me and my stuff to the mountains. Another storage unit. Another quick move. I found a duplex and a job within a week so that I could hurriedly get Austin back in school. Neither was a particularly good decision, as it turns out, because I didn't make enough money to really afford the place where we lived but I had promised Austin that we wouldn't move again until he graduated.
  • Then, on July 5, 2011, the duplex was struck by lightening. Fortunately, we had renters insurance that covered the cost of having a restoration company move all of our things to their warehouse, clean what could be salvaged and give us an inventory of the things that couldn't be salvaged. I found a New Nest for Austin and myself, cheaper, closer to work, farther away from the trouble Austin was finding in town. The restoration company moved our stuff back into our new place. A lot of those boxes were never opened... we just packed them away in closets.
  • So here we are... facing the 13th move of my adult life.... sorting through boxes that haven't been unpacked or looked into since... who knows when (I just found a stack of newspapers from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta)... to decide what needs to go into storage...preparing to bring as little as possible into my parents' home.  I'm trying to weed out what treasures I can live without and I'm trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I'm leaving this beautiful place. I'm so fortunate to have somewhere to go. I'm so glad to be closer to my parents and Cody and Marquee. I pray that Austin will go with us, otherwise it will rip my heart out. I'm anxious about having enough muscle to do what has to be done. I'm not getting a lot of cooperation out of Austin (although he did have a burst of motivation this morning that allowed us to get a lot done). I can't say that I understand what's happened to me over the past few years but I know that others have suffered far more with far fewer resources. I know that God has a plan, though my faith has been rattled, I know that there is a reason that things haven't gone the way *I think they should* and I trust Him, even though it's painful and difficult at times.
There are a couple of precious people in  my orbit who are facing the first Father's Day without their father. My heart is so heavy for them. I have other friends who have spent several Father's Days without their dad. I can't imagine. While it's true that my life hasn't gone according to MY plan over the past few years, consistently, every time something goes wrong it is my daddy who bails me out. He has loved unconditionally, given generously, and always been there to catch me when I fall. I don't want to move but I'm glad to have somewhere to go. I'm grateful that home is always there. There is a beautiful poem by Ruth Graham that I read right before leaving Jacksonville... 

Home Address

by Ruth Bell Graham
My home address?
Christ.
In Him I dwell,
wherever else I be.
As Bird in the air,
as branch in the vine,
as tree in the soil,
as fish in the sea.
He is my home.
My business address?
Here.
Little piney cove,
or London,
Corinth,
Calcutta,
or Rome,
Shanghai,
or Paris.
My business address?
Wherever He puts me,
but He is my home.

Happy Father's Day, y'all. 

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