Friday, August 5, 2011

A Space of One's Own

When I was working for a variety of start-ups, my coworkers and I would often discuss how we would spend a million dollars if the company succeeded and our shares in the stock skyrocketed.  Of course, that never happened.  The companies always went bust and everyone lost their jobs, but it was nice to dream.

Most of the guys talked about what sports cars they would purchase.  My answer was always the same:  I'd buy a hundred acres of land, build a modest house and barn right in the middle of it, and put a fence around it.  The fence would probably cost more than the house and land.  What is important to me is having a space of my own.

If you own some space, you will never be homeless.  Sure, a tornado could come along and blow your home away, but you'll still have the land and can stay in a tent until a new home is built, if the weather permits.  I think owning a piece of our earth is the best investment one can make.  Things like cars only last so long.  If you have some land, you know it will always be there until the end of the world, at least.

I've never understood why millionaires choose to buy huge mansions on little lots where they are crammed up against their neighbors.  They should be more interested in the land they purchase than in the house.  Houses deteriorate over time.  Termites get a hold of them.  People trash them.  Fires burn them.  Plus, I figure the more house you have, the more people you have to hire to maintain it.  I'd much rather have a ton of land with just a trailer to sleep in.  I'd spend most of my days outside anyway.

In fact, I suspect that my annoying neighbors share the same attitude and that is why I can't get any alone time or privacy when I am outside.  They view their property more like a park and less like a home.  So, they invite people over all the time and everyone chooses to hang out in their front lot next to my horse paddock because they like nature and the weather is nice.  They can't really hang out in the house or the back yard, because both are littered with junk.  The front lot is the only place that's semi-clear.  If people want to sit down, they sit in their cars.  It feels a little like a homeless camp over there.  I can't tell you how many times I've walked outside to do my chores only to jump out of my skin when I notice someone sitting in a car staring at me.  I always wondered why they don't get out of their car and go inside the house, but now I suspect it is because their cars are the only places where they can sit comfortably.  I just wish they'd read a book or something instead of staring at me in my private yard.

When I first started settling my mother's estate, I appreciated having some place to go where I could get away from all the eyes next door.  My mother's house was quiet and everyone in the neighborhood left me alone unless I specifically called on them for a visit.  Then we had the estate sale and sold the majority of furniture including most of the beds.  My daughter and I had to sleep on hard floors, and all of the sudden I started feeling homeless.  The next night I slept in an upright chair with my legs propped up on a rolling office chair.  I remember thinking I'd be more comfortable sleeping in my truck, but was afraid someone might report me for being a homeless person in a nice neighborhood.

I have to return to the house one more time to clear out the last of the stuff, but I'm not looking forward to it because I'll be staying in an empty shell with no creature comforts and no land.  My childhood home feels like it has been robbed, and even though it is all a part of the job of settling one's estate, I can't help but feel guilty for desecrating my parents' home in this way.  It feels like I'm throwing their lives away behind their backs.

I'm also a little scared to go back there.  My mother collected Native American crafts and there was this one piece in particular that always bothered me.  It's a hand-crafted doll of an Native American dancing in a crow costume.  My mother would express her joy over it by standing on one leg and spreading her arms out like wings, imitating the doll.  I just thought the doll was creepy.  After my mother passed away, my uncle pointed at that doll, of all things, and said, "If you keep one thing, you must keep that.  Your mother loved it more than anything else in this house."

I cringed.  I wished he hadn't said that, because I knew his words would stick in my head and I knew I had no intention of keeping it.  I tried to sell it at the estate sale, but I suspect everyone else was just as creeped out by it as I was.  The day after the estate sale, I kept the front door open and had people coming in and out collecting items they had bought, but were unable to take home the previous day.  I was pacing in the living room talking on my mobile phone at a time when everyone had cleared out of the house.  I was watching the front door in case someone else showed up, and I was taken by surprise to see this dark shadow figure of a human come in the front door and walk right up to the dancing crow doll.  The shadow did not move naturally like a human.  It moved quickly in abrupt bursts.

It stood looking at the doll for a few seconds, then turned and faced me.  It then slid around the corner and down the hall to the room where my mother used to sleep after she broke her leg and could no longer climb stairs.  This was no illusion.  It wasn't the shadow of someone moving around outside.  This was black with some transparency, not faint or gray like a normal shadow.  It was as black as the crow doll.

I did not get the sense that this was my mother's spirit or anyone I knew visiting the doll.  I felt like it was some other spirit of a stranger that had some connection to the doll, most likely Native American.  I don't know how to interpret the experience beyond that.  I just feel like I have to make an important decision about whether to keep the doll or not.  If it has bad energy attached to it, I certainly don't want to bring it home.  I've already got enough bad luck.  On the other hand, if it made my mother so happy, then perhaps it isn't so bad after all.

My mother also enjoyed collecting dolls that resemble family members.  She had an antique porcelain doll that looked like her.  We did sell that at the estate sale to someone who will hopefully restore it.  We have dolls at our home that she gave the kids as gifts that look like them.  Her doll collecting just reminded me of voodoo.  We wondered why she liked dolls so much, because they just take up space and you can't do anything with them other than to look at them.  I grew up playing imaginary games with dolls, but by the time my kids were born, they had so much electronic stuff to keep them entertained that they didn't know what to do with dolls.  All I know is that this dancing crow doll is reminiscent of the Chuckie movies for me.

After my mother passed away, a friend of hers called me and urged me to meet with a Native American friend of my mother's.  She obviously felt that our meeting was important, because she called me the other day again to ask if I had made the trek to visit her.  This Native American friend had seen my father's spirit several times after he passed away.  On the day I had plans to drive the long distance to visit this woman, it rained, so I had to cancel my plans.  I'm thinking I might take the dancing crow doll to her and see what she makes of it.  It obviously has some meaning beyond just being a personal possession and I'd like to find out the mystery behind it.  

Over the years, I've felt as if my space was dwindling, mainly because of the number of people moving into houses around me and trespassing on my property.  Now that I'm bringing home stuff from my mother's house, the space inside our house is disappearing as well.  My daughter volunteered space in her bedroom for some of it, because she rarely stays in that room anymore.

I feel this urgency to find a new space, a new home on a lot of land where we can spend the last portion of our lives free from intrusions and the feeling of claustrophobia.  I want it so bad, which is why I'm anxious to have everything wrapped up in a successful manner with my mother's estate.  I feel that if I can just find that special space, then I can have the strength to take on whatever else life throws as me.

Do you have a special space or are you still looking?  If you have it, what is it like?


Grey Horse Matters said...

I say if the doll creeps you out give it to the Native American woman as a gift.

I'm a basically private person and like to spend my time at the farm and be with the horses. I think if you can manage it someday you would feel better if you had your own personal space with room for your horses and no prying neighbor's eyes. And let's face it they are really nuts. You need some peace and quiet for a change. Good luck and I hope you can move away from your neighbors soon.

Anonymous said...

I used to hear old people say "buy land, since they don't make it any more, it will go up in value" I hope you can get a place in the country soon, life is too short to be so unhappy.

TeresaA said...

I totally get your comment about space. When I was 5 my mother had to move us to the 'city' so she could work. I grew up in a small apartment. My whole life has been spent trying to get back to the country. I've just now realized that dream. We have our 19 acre property and have just finished renovating the house. I'm waiting on barn estimates and guy came out to spec out the riding ring. I can 't express how I feel when I come home everyday- it's a happiness that resides in the bone.

Linda said...

I have an idea...move up here.

fernvalley01 said...

I am very blessed ,in that I do have room to breathe here,I so wish for that for you . As for the doll, listen to your heart , just because it was important to your mother ,it doesn't nessesarily mean you need to keep it.YOU were important to your mother as well, and your happiness and comfort matter to her

strivingforsavvy said...

I agree with the others. If you don't like the doll and it gives you the creeps give it away. I had goosebumps reading this post and your reference to the Chuckie movies hit home. Those movies really bother me. Keep working toward your dream to own land and I am sure it will come true. Now is a great time to buy too!

Ms Martyr said...

We're currently in the process of trying to find such a place. Unfortunately I never won the lottery and it's hard to find what we want on our budget.
I'm sure you've been referred to FlyLady before but her advice is to not hang onto stuff if it doesn't make you happy or have a useful purpose. There's someone out there who would love that doll as much as your mother did. Don't be guilted into keeping it.

Once Upon an Equine said...

I hope you get the space you are yearning for. It would be wonderful to get away from those crazy neighbors. When I was single I had a small space of my own, a tiny yard and a 1200 square foot house, but if felt like home. That little house on acreage to allow breathing room from the neighbors would have been heaven.

Cheryl Ann said...

You know, we have almost 1/3 acre in town, which is a fairly large lot. We bought our house in the mid-1970's, when the lots were larger. Both our kids have tiny, tiny lots and couldn't even put a pool in! My mom had 1/2 acre, which was nice. I remember having to clean out her stuff when she was no longer able to live there by herself. I used to sleep there with the kids and never felt any "visitors", but once I took a friend and she was creeped out! She said SOMETHING was in my mom's bedroom, where she was sleeping! SOMEDAY I want 5 acres for the horses, and a BARN~~~

Mary said...

I dream of having 2 maybe 3 acres, a little 2 bedroom house and a nice little barn with my horse and a donkey and my dog Fred, of course. And plenty of trails to ride.
I got the creeps thinking about that doll. I am curious now, I hope you get to speak to the Natice American women to shed some light on it then get rid of it...

Fantastyk Voyager said...

You really should talk to your Native American friend. Bring the doll and ask about it. Maybe, as Grey Horse suggested, give it to her as a gift.

Maybe with the inheritance your dream will come true and you can get some land.

Breathe said...

We are looking for our "ranch" as we call it. I know it's out there. Not sure how it'll come together, but m convinced it will.

Your friend is totally wrong, IMHO. Your mother would never want you to keep the one thing she had that creeped you out as a reminder of her. Would you want your kids to hold onto something that was yours that they were repulsed by?

IMHO, She'd want it to belong to someone who will love it. Give it to goodwill, the right person will find it and be so grateful they found it.

sue said...

I wouldnt keep it either, perhaps it could be donated to a museum or something of that nature.. or is there any way you could check with a Native American and find out what to do with it... and I agree, the doll probably brought great joy to you Mom, but the her true joy would have been you!!!!

Crystal said...

Im not sure I would want to keep that doll if it creeps you out, but definitly see what the Native American woman has to say about it.

You definitly need some more space! I am lucky as well we have lots of space here and even though our house is old and worn out it is still on the land and we can build something new when we can afford it.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I say take the doll to the Native American woman. If she has anythign profound to say about it or the shadow that showed up- take this all into consideration before making a decision.

Otherwise, if it still creeps you out, since your Uncle said to hang onto it- let him. You know he would keep it somewhere safe...

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Such a fascinating post, NM!
I wish you would have taken a photo of your Mother's Crow Doll. It was probably very rare and valuable!
I collect Kachina dolls and it sounds like your Mother had a very special Crow Mother Kachina, which is considered by most Hopi Indians to be the "mother" of all Kachinas and is a figure of great dignity and importance.
Wow. What a treasure!
And such an interesting story to go along with it, too.
If you ever want to "connect" with the Native American Spirits and understand some of their history and meaning, and you enjoy a good mystery, I have to suggest reading anything by one of my favorite authors, Tony Hillerman.
Perhaps, your Mother read his books, too.

As for a place of my own, we paid cash for this home and land, so it technically belongs to us. As you probably remember, after the auto accident that my husband and sons were in, we hit rock bottom because of all the hospital bills and his inability to work, and we were were so close being homeless and often went to bed at night hungry.
Instead of spending our settlement on vacations, cruises, and expensive stuff, we chose to buy our home, so we would never worry about being homeless again.

Of course, if we don't remember to tuck away the $1,000+ a year for our property taxes, then the government will take our land and home away from us anyway, and we could still end up homeless. sigh....