Four years ago today all my worldly belongings had been packed up in a POD, I finished cleaning the beautiful Old Spanish house I'd been renting in The Roads in Miami, and I said goodbye to two gorgeous, sweet stray cats I'd been helping out. I loaded my kids (Buttercup, Max, and Hunter) into the car and drove north out of Miami. Although we had a temporary destination of Springfield, VA, where we could crash for up to six weeks, we had no other plan and little money. We made it to Melbourne, FL that first night. Savannah, GA the next.
With no idea where we would end up, the journey was (and remains) somewhat frightening. But the freedom has been priceless. Truly, it was an escape. One I should have made long before losing a decade of my life to a marriage that was nothing more than baby-sitting an alcoholic, living beyond our means, and being left in financial ruin. But after so many years, after countless nights of telling myself "tomorrow I will leave and file for divorce," I finally escaped. What a sad twist of psychology that we are often prone to remain in a horrible situation simply because it is known and predictable, our fear of the unknown outweighing logic and reason.
That first year we were nomads. We lived in Springfield, VA, then Bowie, MD, then Cottage Grove, OR, Eugene, OR, and Manassas, VA before settling in Annapolis three years ago. I may never find a place that feels like home, but at least now that we live aboard moving is less upending. In the end, "home" is not a city or other physical place. It is a state of mind, that sense of peace waking up beside one you love, the smell of freshly cut grass. Someday I will find my home.
Life, love, career, success have all slipped through my grasp or passed me by. It is hard living in a constant state of financial catastrophe. We can only sustain fight-or-flight mode for so long before breaking down. But I persevere for my pets who look to me for everything and keep me afloat with their unconditional love. I try to tune out all the unsolicited advice, steer away from the superficial, the drinkers, and the busy-bodies and try to just keep them politely at bay. Trying to stop picking the broken and defective men; trying to remind myself that I cannot fix them and deserve better.
In many ways it feels I haven't made it very far in these four years of freedom. But distance and bank account balances are not important measures of success. The real success is that I freed myself from the prison of my former life. If that is my only success in life, it will still have been a triumph.