In the middle of the parking lot, where at one time there was a swimming pool that had long been since filled in, and more recently housed garbage, graffiti and discarded drug paraphernalia was an area fenced in with chain link containing some semi neglected raised garden beds and more large plastic kid toys.
Reminders that little children are living there.
The Boy and I had just been talking about community, the importance of having your People, and how glad we are for the ones we have.
There had been a time years ago, when I first realized I’d be getting a divorce, my first instinct was to flee and escape this place~ to move away to somewhere new and sunny near a beach. To start anew.
In preparation to be a single mom and primary breadwinner, I talked to a financial planner around that time, courtesy of a free program at one of my jobs. In the midst of questions about budgets and expenses, she offhandedly told me that when her own child became a teen, she cut her work hours back so she could be home when he and his friends got out of school. While it cost her financially, both in lost income and the astonishing amount of food required to feed teenage boys, she wanted them to have a place to go to hang out where someone was home and cared.
Later in the conversation, she went on to mention that she’s witnessed people in times of big life change, adding more change, and that it was like buying themselves more problems that they couldn’t afford, when they already had plenty of free ones.
That bit of life advice came from a place I wasn’t expecting, but it sure made me think. Reality hit and I knew that I didn’t have the resources in place to make a big move happen.
I also realized that even though I hadn’t been all that keen about moving to this area 13 years ago, an amazing community of people grew up all around us and we became a part of it. My kids and I were known and loved and safe.
And it’s come into play over and over again.
When we sold our home, a friend rented me her wonderful house surrounded by fruit trees. It was a great place for starting over. I knew she was giving me a good deal on rent, but I hadn’t realized how good until she needed her house back and I went to look for a new place to live.
Finding another new home was harder than I anticipated, and unfortunately, we had to be out of one before we found the next one. Fortunately though, another friend had agreed to rent her small cottage to us in the interim.
No application, we just agreed on a price and she and her husband let all of us, and our dogs move into their little mother in law unit.
We spent almost 8 weeks living in that transitional situation~ It was safe, a happy place, and even cute, but the house was teeny, quite a long drive to get anyplace and probably the biggest dismay for my teens was that the wifi service was often iffy.
Even after our time in Nicaragua last summer, and the perspective we gained, still.. having four full sized people and two dogs in a small studio house was a challenge.
But nowhere near the challenge it would have been without community and resources.I really don’t know how I would have managed.
A few years ago, I remember learning of a project to create a playground and garden at one of the scary hotels in town. Volunteers worked there during after school hours, tutoring kids and attempting to create a nice place. They were looking for people to help provide transportation for kids and their parents living there to evening school events, which they could otherwise not be a part of since most of them had no running car, and public transportation doesn’t run in the evenings around here.
While the slides and toys are visible signs that little kids were being raised there, which is sad enough, I hadn’t yet made the obvious conclusion that since poverty doesn’t take time outs for elementary school years, and isn’t usually remedied that quickly, there’s a good chance that school aged children would be living there as well.
The reality of childhood in a place like that is harsh for anyone, but if you have to go to school where other kids know about it….that seems even worse.
When multiplied into a monthly cost, the weekly rate posted on the sign in front of the sketchy motel was not much less than we were paying for our cute little cottage in the olive orchard.
But without friends to rent from, and a running car to get back and forth, that never would have been an option. And then there’s our pets.
I can’t imagine telling my kids we were getting rid of our dogs. Even though they limited our options of homes, I knew I’d figure something out eventually, so thankfully, that was never really a consideration. Our pack would stay together.
Our cat, who came to us a feral kitten and is quite possibly mentally challenged due to a lack of diversity in the gene pool (spay and neuter your pets, please!) was able to stay in our old house while we were in transition, which was another huge blessing. He joined in us as soon as we found our long term lodging but was safe in a familiar place in the mean time.
During the whole ordeal, which could have been a really difficult time, we were wrapped up in love and support and surrounded by good people, living things and good food growing right outside our door.
If it weren’t for friends, we would have either had to get rid of our pets, or be homeless. It could have been a devastating time, but instead, it was just a bit annoying~ all because of the blessing of Community~ we have our People.
When I see the families outside of the hotel, I wonder about their their stories~ where is their community and what happened to their People?
And I thank God and the Universe for mine.