48. You can't home home again...or re-creating what you've lost.
I’ve never been so great at relaxing. It’s not that surprising as it kinda runs in my family. But in general my M.O. is been as follows :
WORK ASS OFF TIL EXHAUSTED.
That was the way it was, until about 10 years ago when my mom died.
For many, Cheri provided refuge from emotional turmoil. In her non-judgmental way, she could give advice when called upon, or simply listen, as often that’s truly what any of us need . She was a friend to many, kind to all, but above and beyond all that, she was my mother. She was my sun, full of fun, generous with her love, unending in her support. Whatever place she inhabited is where I found my home, the space where I was unconstrained to breathe, to reset, to dream.
May 21st of 2009 irrevocably altered that. It left me rootless, faced with figuring out what having a “home” really meant. I tried at first to “re-create” that place in her image, by coming home for the holidays and staying at her house, thinking that by simply being present in that space would somehow provide solace to my wandering soul.
But with big loss, comes big grief, and in my mom’s case that grief affected a LOT of people. The house I sought to find my closure, was no longer really mine to go to. The belongings, the things that reminded me of the home I knew, were slowly buried under “stuff “ locked in a building that effectively became a large storage locker. Years later, my brothers and I would finally be allowed to begin to sort and separate her things, but by then we had forced ourselves to move on, learning the lesson of fractured families: Being her child does NOT give your grief priority.
in the following years, I moved into my now husbands house, and tried to clear it of the litter of his ex-relationship as we carved out a place that was ours. Finances and practicality had us selling it, and downsizing into an apartment, where we created a space that finally felt like it could function as that respite.
It was around that time we started to take small weekend trips to Palm Springs. Only two hours away, it felt like another state: relaxed, casual and full of friendly strangers. More importantly, it felt like a place where my proverbial hair could be “let down”. The hustle of LA was easy to get to, but you were far enough away you could turn it off. So when I inherited some money from my father a year and a half ago, we started looking for a house.
With a robust vacation market, we knew if we weren’t using it all the time we could share it with people looking to get away through vacation rentals. For me, it presented the opportunity to create a space that was truly ours, where I could bring my family and friends together without the emotional gymnastics of treading on anyone’s feelings.
And so the journey began…
The day of my breast cancer diagnoses, we fell out of escrow on a house . It seemed like a sign, that it probably wasn’t the right time, I mean who the hell knew what lay ahead? But as treatment started, and we stepped back from actively looking, this house stayed in our orbit. it was a little like me, good lines, nice space, with some broken, but very fixable things that needed to be attended to.
I had figured initially, if I was not going to be able to work, or was too sick to teach, I’d certainly have the energy to order contractors around, Right ?! So we stayed cautiously optimistic about the house coming back to us.
And finally right around my second Chemo treatment it did.
“Are you sure you wanna do this?” Collin asked.
“We can’t back out now,” I said. We had felt like it was ours for better or worse from the get go, and more importantly in a time where I had very little control over what was happening over my body, THIS I could FIX. This I could make whole.
And as my diagnoses got more complex, I thought if something took a turn and my prognoses didn’t look good , I did not want to die in a rent controlled apartment in LA. (Yes, sometimes to access the actual SIZE of things you need to go very dark.)
So we said yes. And relatively quietly, lists, and contractors, and marathon late night scrolling on FB Marketplace and other second hand websites took over the space of my cancer anxiety giving it purpose. Dec 11th it officially became ours. And for the next three months, between treatments, auditions and shooting, we got in the car and drove back and forth to slowly bring this “home” to life.
Two weeks ago, 100 days later, it was ready. I wouldn’t advise buying a house in the middle of a cancer diagnoses, but what I can say is, having a project helps. I heard an interview with Nick Offerman on NPR about how post auditions he goes directly to his woodworking shop, because it’s where he has a bit of control.
So I suppose our house on Plaimor Ave is my giant woodworking shop. One where my family and friends can come together to one day toast my cancer-free body.
In a land vibrant with aging drag queens and Canadian Snow Birds… I’ve found my home.