I received a call this past Monday from my realtor that the home I rent from my parents, the place on a dream cul-de-sac neighborhood my kids called home, has been sold in short sale. The new owners would like to move in August 16th, which means we will need to find a place to call home ASAP!
Rewind… October 2009
It was a Monday, I was in my home office clocking in for the day, as I did for the last year and a half. I worked in the graphics industry as a permanent form of a freelancer, my oldest son in school, and my second son is home with me. I had a good thing going on, I had a great paying somewhat steady job, and I could be home with my youngest. My husband was the main bread winner in our little tribe, he worked in the same business as I, but wore managerial metals =) lol I’ve always been on the more labor, technical, workhorse side of the biz, you know? Give me what I need to get done and leave me alone to work my magic attitude. Life in my opinion was very comfortable at this point.
Hello? I instant message my go-to-person “giver of tasks” we’ll call her. Hello, checking in. I type again. I hear a BLOOP and a message appears! It says… Hello Danielle we have nothing for you today, in fact we are probably not going to be needing your services anytime soon, since we will be doing everything in-house now. What? I immediately go into panic mode, and call my husband to break the news. He says calm down, we’ll be fine, we’ll be fine, I’m working and making enough for both of us. I take a deep breath, calm myself down, and realize he’s right. My income pretty much paid for the extras, family vacations, savings, etc. This just means I can spend more time with my kids while I try to find something new if need be. Life goes on, no skin off my back, right?
A week has gone by it’s Sunday and we just bought the boys a new bunkbed, set it up, put them to bed, and called it a night. Husband has work in the morning…
Monday, I wake up like any other day only last Monday I awoke to a job. This time it’s cartoons, scrambled eggs, and daily errand list looking at me. Noon rolls around, little one is napping, and the oldest is in school, I start on the morning dishes. The garage door swings open and a man walks in, I look up and my heart is in that pit of your stomach, when everything feels like it burns inside, and your legs are about to give out. He is carrying a box, a familiar box, with office toys and picture frames inside. He awkwardly smiles and says I came home to watch the Dodger game. I wish it was that silly of an explanation, my husband is a silly person the majority of the time, so he was just trying to do something spontaneous and come home early right? He for the first time was dead serious, they had laid him off without warning.
Week’s turned into month’s, month’s turned into years, no one would hire us! We were denied the most bottom of the barrel type of jobs, because they were afraid we’d want too much money, because of our backgrounds. lol What is too much money for a college grad with a family of 5 too feed? Let me put it to you this way, if you are offering $10/hr in the state of California for that matter, and I’m still interested in the job, at that point I would think this person really needs this job. Jobs we did land were all freelance of course. Companies figured out during this economic crisis to tip toe under Uncle Sam’s nose by only offering temp/freelance jobs. Why? Simple, you are now a bill to them, a tax right off, no benefits responsibilities. You just make them money and then when you are sucked dry they toss you and recruit a whole crop of new suckers. Don’t get me wrong I have friends who have made a successful career in self employment. They’re called 3D Animators, Visual Editors, and anything else that requires you to never see the light of day, or to have the skill sets of Graphic Ninjas. Us Average Joe’s however, are a dime a dozen in this business, we don’t get offered the 50-100 buck an hour gigs. So in essence the category I file under is the one I will write about, the most common form of graphic artist.
With the help of friends and kind hearted strangers, we made it through holidays and birthdays year after year. By the end of 2010 we knew nothing would be happening anytime soon, and our savings was now nil. I resorted to using what homemade artistic talents I had to open up a small online shop, selling my creations. I have now transformed from graphic artist to gypsy touting my wares. This paid for food, gas, and sometimes little extras for the kids. My husband re-invented himself as well, he bought some second hand books, and started educating himself on web design. We had a plan now… umm well sort of. We still had this house to pay for, it’s my parents but we pay the mortgage, and the mortgage was based on our old life’s income. What to do? What to do? We can’t walk away, this would ruin my parents credit, and that is not how I ever pictured paying them back for all they had done for us. My life went black, there was no light to be seen, not now, or anytime soon. I felt myself detach more and more, almost as if I were watching someone else’s life unfolding. I went numb, tensions grew, things were said, and life got heavier. You never realize how big your life is until it is arching over you, casting this huge shadow that goes on forever. It used to be the size of a pea in the palm of my hand, I could do so much with it. I could be serious with it, I could be careless with it, and it remained resilient. What I didn’t know, scratch that, what I knew and chose to ignore like most of us do, is that it retains everything you roll it into. It gets bigger, it gets harder to control, then it explodes! Bits and pieces of your life everywhere! Nothing fits, nothing makes sense, things you used to know as ritual are non-existant, and relationships show true colors. It’s the bare, raw, meat of it all. Now you have to face it and clean up the mess, to make way for better choices. Why? Three simple reasons, reason age 9, reason age 5, and our newest reason age 2.
That’s what brings us to today, and my explanation for my title of “The Soil’s Gone Bad”. California has been my home all my life, and I used to love living here. But, when I had troubles and needed food for my kids, or assistance to get through a month of living expenses, I was denied across the board. I applied for unemployment but had to fight for it in court, I fought hard for a $223 check. I stood in line at every poor excuse of a government office just to get my kids on any sort of medical coverage, that was taken away because I got a $223 check mailed to me every other week! The stress was too much to bare and I had a minor stroke, a minor stroke!! I am 34 years old! People my age don’t just have strokes, am I right? This place is killing me, I’m thinking something has to change, please? Luck finally smiled down on us and I was hired for 6 months this January on a temp position, which couldn’t have come at a better time. Now we had a means to save money, since we were no longer paying a mortgage, since the house had to be sold in short sale. My husband also found himself in a nice month to month gig as well, sadly both jobs are coming to an end this week.
Anyways, bottom line is things have changed and probably will never be the same again in our world as far as economy and society go. There for we must think creatively, the way our society is advancing more materialistically and less morally, mankind would prove the wiser to remember his roots, and hit rewind.
Our plan is to leave this state and try our luck at a new life beginning in Portland, Oregon. The house is sold which removes my parents from the path of this nightmare, a huge relief in my heart. =) Our children will have me back to care for them, and my husband can finally get the slack he deserves, working so hard to keep this family above water. We don’t know what to expect, we don’t know where we will live, we don’t know if it is THE right place for us to set roots. What I do know is, that after the years of being on this roller coaster, there is nothing I can’t handle. Any other couple in this day and age would’ve thrown up their hands and divorced, given up, or settled for meager scraps. Not us! Nope, not us! It got rough, life got harder, that creepy alone feeling was constantly at your door not letting you breathe. When things quieted down at the end of the day, and he and I sat and talked about what to do next, things started to become less scary. I have him and he has me to lean on, I don’t need to ask the government for anything, and we don’t have to live the way they tell us too. We are leaving and we are going to self sustain as much as we can. Making our family legacy mean something, as well as the love, creative expression, and above all surround ourselves with organic made from the heart happiness.
So long California, it’s been fun at times, when times were good. The soil has gone bad here, families don’t thrive in environments like this. I don’t want to be a 2 income family that works 14 hour days for minimum wage, and has some 16 year old day care employee raising my children. There is no pay off, everything here is borrowed. You can’t own a house because they can take it from you anyways, you can’t have a savings because the banks invent new ways to take it. If you get sick you get left behind, if you are homeless your stepped over and ignored. This is not how life was meant to be lived, and I don’t know about you, but I have woken up.
The fireworks in the sky’s don’t distract me anymore, from now on we will tip toe out of this state of sleeping giants quietly and find our place in this world. There has to be one left for the rest of us who just want to live our own lives the way we want to live them, right?
Our adventure begins August 13th, wish us luck, and I will keep you posted…