Life is funny. And short. Seize the day.

Most people, when they go on a trip, they come back with some kind of small token to commemorate their journey–a piece of art, say, or a book or a t-shirt. When Cane and I left for a two-week visit with his family in south Louisiana, I left a little room in my suitcase to bring home something like that.

Well, I couldn’t fit what we got there in my suitcase.

Older bungalow home
For more than a year, since Cane sold the house he had before we got married, we’ve been talking about various options for how we might live the next few decades of our lives. We’d felt stuck and unable to make any decisions because we have more than a few unknown variables and some seemingly incompatible wants/needs. One of those was a desire to spend more time in Louisiana because all of Cane’s extended family lives there, but for several reasons that felt like something we were not going to be able to do.

And then, while we were there, we saw this house for sale. If you’ve been following since the days in which Cane and I had a blog together to chronicle our adventures in home renovation, you know that we love an old house that needs some love. This one is one of those, from an era we’ve long had affection for. (We’re not sure of its exact age, but somewhere between the 1920’s- early 40’s.)

It was the right price and the right size and the right location. It’s within walking distance of his twin brother, his mother, and a cute downtown commercial area that contains a beautiful library (with a current, diverse collection) and a shop that sells the best donuts I’ve ever had.

plate with 3 donuts

It checked every box we didn’t know we had and opened doors we didn’t know existed until it helped us see them; although I am not a big believer in fate and meant-to-be’s, this felt like something meant to be. We did some research to see what else is out there and has been out there, and that feeling only grew. We knew this was an opportunity not likely to come again. And so, even though it felt like something people like us just don’t do, we did it: We bought the house.

We’ll be in our Portland home for the near future, while Cane finishes his career teaching in the school both of us helped create nearly 20 years ago. Portland is still home base for our kids and we want to be here now, though all of them are making plans to live their lives elsewhere. When Cane retires we will likely move north to Washington so that we can be closer to my extended family, and we’ll divide our time between Washington and Louisiana. In the meantime, we can spend longer stretches of summer time in the south, fixing up our fixer-upper.

Of course, we’ve lived enough to know how life goes–namely, that we can’t know how it will go. We think that this purchase will work for us now and for a number of different scenarios that might be likely in our future. Paradoxically, making a move that sets us on a particular course is giving us more options than we felt we had when we were in limbo. The only solutions we previously saw had us eliminating possibilities that can now exist together, giving us more flexibility to respond to life as it comes at us.

Because life is going to keep coming at us, even as its scope continually shrinks.

I have had a million thoughts and questions and worries about all kinds of things I won’t even begin to dissect here–about culture, geography, politics, climate, money, privilege, and more. South Louisiana and northwest Washington are very different places, and I’ve never lived outside the Pacific northwest. Doing so on even a part-time basis is something that has given me some pause. If anyone knows that love and good intentions are not enough to make things work and that things can go sideways with little warning, it is the two of us. But. We know there are risks, and I think we’re pretty clear-eyed about what they are. We know that love isn’t all you need, but it is absolutely the foundation we need. It is the reason we are still together after living through challenges that would have torn many others apart. We see this move as an investment in love for four generations of our widespread family, something we see the importance of now more than we have at any other time in our lives, which are (like everyone’s) only getting shorter.

As we were getting ready to come home, I reminded Cane that I almost didn’t make the trip because of the issues with my back. We had such a rich and wonderful two weeks with his siblings and extended family, a longer stretch of time than he’s had with them in decades. I expressed how glad I am that I didn’t miss it.

“You know,” he said, “if your back had gone out a week later, I’m sure we wouldn’t have bought the house.”

I’m sure we wouldn’t. Life swings on the smallest of chances sometimes, on serendipity and luck and things you didn’t know you were looking for until you found them.

(She’s grubby and in need of a little TLC, but she sits well and it’s a nice place to catch some breeze on a hot day. Also, I hesitated to put “seize the day” in the title of this post because of the way the phrase has been used, but I did because I found a deep dive into its meaning from the BBC that captured what this development is really about for us: “What it really means to ‘seize the day.'”)

17 thoughts on “Life is funny. And short. Seize the day.

  1. Pam says:

    Congratulations! Can’t wait to see what you build there together– and excited to hear you might be closer to me for part of the year. I miss you!

    • Rita says:

      Pam! I miss you, too! I am not teaching this year (for real), and I sure hope I can see you IRL in the coming months. It’s been way too long.

  2. TD says:

    How many more months does your husband Cain need to serve in Oregon school system to receive full retirement benefits, Rita?

    I must say that I’m surprised that if you, Rita, were to choose life all over again that it would be in Louisiana (especially on the Mississippi River or running creek). I’m guessing the deck on the river creek is part of the house property.

    Understanding Cain has family close to his heart in this town, so that was an easy fit for him.

    Myself if I were to get to choose life all over again (from our current age, on forward path) I absolutely would not choose an 40’s or older house property. I would choose small simple and new. I’ve learned old houses are constant repair, more work, more expense than ever anticipated. I often consider placing my house for sale. I own it, no mortgage, loan, fees or debit. I’m relaxing now it is all put together how I wanted it. But it has been very difficult doing it all solo. Completely paid is my safety net.. Yet I still dream of new build decision over old vintage.

    I’m curious what about this particular house property offers you as we never know who will pass away first. My Mother died recently this year, yet her second marriage husband 10 years her senior is still living. I never ever thought mother would pass first because it was Dad with all the health issues.

    These are the odd things I think deeply about. Have you closed on the property yet?

    I’m not worried for you and don’t have any concerns. Surprised and curious for sure!

    • Rita says:

      Hi TD,
      Cane has several years left to teach, so no major changes (other than this) any time soon. Gives us time to fix the house up, a type of creative project that we enjoy doing together. Completely paid is a safety net for me, too, and this house provides that. So does a place in the midst of a strong support system. Cane has three brothers; one is within walking distance, one is a 5-minute drive away, and the third is within a half-hour. They’ve all lived/worked other places over the years, but they’ve found their way back to this place. We can’t know how things will be/go in the future, but we think this place will provide some good options for us.

      • TD says:

        Thank you, Rita for filling in the blanks of what I didn’t know and my curiosity. Absolutely agree that “We can’t know how things will be/go in the future.” Best wishes for you both as you go on your journey!

  3. Sara Brookhyser says:

    Rita I cant tell you how much this thrills me. Im on the verge of big changes which must not yet be named. But upending life in later decades is pretty exciting !!!

    • Rita says:

      I can’t wait to hear what your changes are! I was surprised when you moved away from PDX and have been wondering how you like your new town. I think upending life is always exciting. When it’s our choice, though. 🙂 Guess that’s why I keep doing it?

  4. Marian says:

    I laughed when I saw the photo of the house—nope, it certainly will not fit in your suitcase! It seems to me that shared projects can either make or break a marriage, and from what you’ve shared in your blogs, I think you and Cane do projects really well together. I’m excited for you both and I hope you share some of the things you do to turn that house into a home..

    • Rita says:

      Glad to give you a laugh. 🙂 I also think we do projects well together, for the most part. Our differences tend to balance each other. I’m glad that we are going to have help and support from his family. There’s no way we’d have taken on something like this so far from our home base without them. I’m sure I’ll be sharing our progress. Until next summer, it will be happening at a distance. Nothing too exciting/fun–things like heating/cooling system and roof repair are first concerns. Thank you for the encouragement!

  5. Mary Louise says:

    Hey kid. Just reading this I can almost see a big weight lifted from your shoulders. I know you like to have a plan for yourself and Cane and I think you two have put a lot of thought into this. I’m glad that you will be in both places and it means we won’t have to miss seeing you. I think your world opened up when the kids left to do their own thing. It is also nice the see you giving into your wants and not so much to your needs. It’s time for you to take a deep breath and enjoy. Louisiana sounds so nice and I love the house.

  6. Kari says:

    How did I miss this post? Bloglovin’ and WordPress Reader. …I am so excited for your future and everything it holds for both of you. This means I need to get out to Portland as soon as possible. 🙂

    I cannot wait to follow along with all of your exciting adventures.❤️
    Kari recently posted…What Was Your First Concert?My Profile

    • Rita says:

      Oh, we’re in Portland for a good five years, at least. This will be a part-time place, even after Cane retires. But yes: Get out here! 🙂

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