Growing up, I only recall two houses that we lived in. The first was attached to the back of a grocery store and it wasn’t very big. I don’t have many memories of that house but I do remember being scared every time the cops would knock on our door and notify us that the grocery store had been broken into and robbed…again. A low-income project development became our next house and this is where many of the lost memories that have resurfaced are from. If I had to choose one impression that stands out amongst the rest, it would be the fact that I could never have friends over. For one thing, I didn’t have many friends because I was such a loner, but when I did have friends, I knew I couldn’t invite them to my house. You never knew when a blowup would happen and it was too risky to have someone there if it did. I remember hearing classmates talk about whatever get together they had had over the weekend and I would feel so left out. I promised myself that, when I grew up, my house would be the place where everyone wanted to go.
Even within my own family I never felt like I belonged or that our house was a safe place for me. As my story has been unfolded (The Breaking Begins, Nini), I ended up running away from the violence and choosing homelessness over the constant fear of harm. No one was protecting me and it was time to take things into my own hands and start protecting myself. From the moment I stepped foot out of that house and onto the streets, I felt like a vagabond. Several years later I got married and really, not much changed. I struggled to feel that I was truly a part of my ex-husband’s family (at the time because of the distance); and we moved every few years so it was difficult to feel like I had stability or could truly settle down. When we bought our first condominium, I felt like I could breathe and allow myself to start putting some roots down. I had finally built up a friendship group and began to have those special moments in life with friends, like being pregnant together, raising children together, going through mommy pains, and having park and beach days regularly. It was the first time that I felt I belonged and it was amazing.
But then we moved across the country and everything I had worked so hard toward fell apart. We left a life that I loved and would never have given up had it been my choice. We moved to be closer to a family that I didn’t know and it ended up being a move that almost broke me mentally and emotionally. It was the spiritual strength that I had built that became the only thing that held me together. Still, that event has left a profoundly painful imprint on my soul. The first few years were incredibly tough; however, an opportunity came up that would unexpectedly turn out to be the best part of our move. A retired couple that we knew were going on a mission trip for a few years and they asked our family to stay in their home while they were gone. Their house was large and we felt honored that they would trust us to take care of it. Our children were elated because we had been living in very tight spaces since our move. Unfortunately, the couples trip ended up not working out and they returned a few months later. They decided to sell their home and it only made sense that we would purchase it from them. That is exactly what we did and that is how Farmview Drive became our first house in the year of 2007.
This house has become dearer to me than I could ever express. It is the first place that I could truly call my “home” and was able to put roots down mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and finally, physically. The inside looks almost nothing like it did when we purchased it because we have put our creative imprint on every room. In it, we raised our children, housed many spiritual children, held dinners, holiday celebrations, birthday and anniversary and engagement parties, events, bonfires, sleepovers, and so much more; the doorstep of this house has seen thousands of people cross it (no joke)! To be totally cliché: We have had the best of times and the worst of times in this home. We were a normal family going through the ups and downs of life and I love that it all took place at Farmview Drive.
Sadly, life took an unexpected turn and threatened to crush the beauty of our home. I am not one to splash my ‘dirty laundry’ publicly or feel the need to expose others; nor will I do so here. Having said that, it is at this point I believe it is critical to speak to couples who have been married for any length of time. I implore you to guard your relationship and make sure you are in constant communication about the changes you are facing in life, no matter how big or small. It will help you to better navigate your relationship when Menopause and Mid-life crises hit because they are very real and will wreak havoc on your relationship if you are not aware of them. Once my marriage started to unravel, I began to research mid-life crisis and, honestly, I would not have believed it when articles would say, “… this may come out of nowhere and be devastatingly painful”1 …until it happened to me. I never saw the end of my marriage coming and I wish I had been more informed about what was happening so that I could have known how to handle it better. But things are what they are and all I can do is try to express to couples how important it is to be informed about menopause2 and mid-life crisis.1 I have referenced two articles below to begin your research and I pray that you do in order to protect your marriage; even if you think your marriage is amazing and unbreakable.
During the process of the divorce, it became very important to me that I kept the house for a very important reason. Two of my children were living overseas when our marriage dissolved and each were planning on coming home the following year. I could not bear the thought of them, not only coming back to a fractured family, but not being able to return to their childhood home. By God’s grace, I was able to obtain a sole mortgage and kept the house. I am so glad that I did! As I wrote in The Necklace, it was worth all of the obstacles I had to go through! We have spent an unprecedented eight months healing, recovering, and restoring the good memories that we have all shared here at our Farmview Drive home.
Now, the time has come that I never thought would come; it is time to let it go. Even as I write these words, emotions are gathering within my heart and tears threaten to fall. It feels like I am getting ready to say goodbye to a dear friend that knows all of our secrets; but still takes care of us and protects us. However, it has served its purpose in our lives and now it is time to allow another family to enjoy the beauty that this home holds. It is time to close this chapter and start writing the next one. Several of us are packing up and heading down to Tennessee to get a much-needed fresh start and I am incredibly excited for this move.
Before I leave, it is important to me that I communicate certain things. I don’t regret my marriage because I am thankful for what was birthed from it and all of the memories and experiences we shared as a family. In regards to California, it was easy to love my life there and I will always cherish my memories and the friends that I still hold dear there. As for New York, I learned to love my life here as well. It has given me experiences that have profoundly changed me and I am deeply grateful for that. My children, spiritual children, sisters from other mothers and fathers, friends, and relatives have all made my life here incredibly rich. Toward the end, my community became my family when they rallied around me and held me up through one of the most difficult challenges in my life. I know from experience that every time you move away from an area, there will be a natural drop in who you stay connected to. However, I know that there are many people I will always be in contact with because we are so strongly bonded. Also, for all of my Cali and NY friends…you are welcome to visit me anytime. I will be scouring all of the best places in Nashville and will have the low down on where to go and what to do.
Of course, it is with many mixed emotions that I put our house on the market in the upcoming weeks, however, I know that this is the best decision for my life at this time. I am beyond grateful that we are leaving on a positive note and I can honestly say that, whenever I think about all of the ups and downs throughout my entire life, there will be one beacon of light that will always shine for me, and that is Farmview Drive…the house where everyone wanted to go!
Until next time, appreciate those around you and stay safe!