(written Wednesday, June 13, 2018)
Six weeks ago we had this crazy idea to sell our condo in Cloverdale, British Columbia, travel, and move up north. It’ll be an adventure, we said. We can hop in the van and take a leisurely road trip, we said. Houses are cheaper up north and we can be mortgage free to live our dream of actually being full-time writers, we said.
So we listed our little home and in a whirl-wind 2 weeks, we had sold it for well over asking price (everything sells over asking price on the coast, so don’t get too excited.) And in the rush of packing that followed, we began looking at real-estate postings in Vanderhoof. Here’s something about the real-estate market in northern BC in early May, it’s almost non-existent! There was nothing to be had short of a few real fixer-uppers, but the prices looked really encouraging and our enthusiasm grew.
Now, here’s how the plan looked in our Polyanna dreams – we load up our all our possessions in a trailer and it goes to Vanderhoof, then we bid farewell to the condo and meander up to visit with relatives for a week while we find our dream home, our diamond-in-the-rough. Once we’ve found it, we sign papers (yada yada yada…) and we bugger-off down the coast in our Volks Wagon van for a month-long bohemian dream (writing blogs, visiting wineries, hugging trees, etc) and return just in time to take possession of our new home. Beautiful, isn’t it?
Here’s what that really looks like – one week of finishing all those little house repairs we never seemed to find time for, followed by four days of living at Starbucks while strangers and nosey neighbours walk through said house in quick progression. Then the offers come in and the deal is made and we have one last party on the patio to bid our friends adieu … this is when the ‘what have we done’ thoughts start creeping in. Packing, packing, packing, sprinkled with many heated discussions about what to keep and what to give away. We hire movers to help load the trailer for us but they do such a poor job that we spend our last days unpacking and repacking to make sure our belongings reach our new home in useable condition. We’re exhausted, we’re snapping and snarling at each other and beginning to wonder if we’ve gone about this quite right. The trailer leaves, we clean the condo and say good-bye, we drive out of town (Randy in the van, me in the Mazda) and we stop at our favourite Mexican restaurant (Del Pollo) for dinner before hitting the nearest Holiday Inn for a good night’s sleep. Only, the Holiday Inn is booked solid, and so is the other one across town. There’s not a hotel room to be had, they’re all booked up except one. That brings us to the murdery looking motel in Abbotsford…it’s dirty. It’s really dirty. And the characters in the parking lot, who mostly appear to live there, are not making me feel any better about it. I spend a fair amount of time looking out the window at night, making sure the van and the car are still there. And I’m not taking a shower in that bathroom, no way! But we sleep and we drive and we get as far as 100 Mile House and check into the Super 8. Clean room. Very clean. And the next morning we find we are just too exhausted to go on, so we spend a very pleasant extra day in 100 Mile House, visiting the farmer’s market, hiking up to the falls, being eaten alive by mosquitoes….and the next day we finished the drive to Vanderhoof in much better shape.
We’ve descended on my sister and her husband who graciously offered us their guest room. I didn’t even ask, she offered, and I’m so glad we’re not camping now that I know about the mosquitoes. (To be fair, I grew up in this town and I should have known about them, but I forgot, the way you block out the trauma of a bad dental experience or a car accident.) And we’ve started the process of house shopping in earnest. The market has heated up here almost overnight. There are new houses being listed almost daily, but the part we weren’t prepared for is that as more houses become available, the prices go up as well! This was not how we planned our budget. The term ‘fixer upper’ doesn’t seem to mean the same thing here as we assumed it did (the houses are projects, but the prices do not reflect that!) A week and a half in, we are still homeless and have abandoned the travel plans. We are wondering if we’ll have to abandon the writing as well and go get jobs to support ourselves. Either that or just throw it all to the wind, sell our belongs and hit the road in our van for a couple years, start over when the money runs out. It’s a possibility, I guess. Anything is a possibility right now. (Can you hear the panic setting in? Breathe . . . .)
Which brings us to 6:00 am in the middle of June, and me, lying awake wondering What Have We Done! So I’ve crept downstairs while everyone is still sleeping, made a cup of coffee and found the last gluten-free muffin, and I’m writing. Not my stories, but my story. It’s an adventure.