Hello, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here on Friday, March 12, 2021. It’s a nice day in New Hometown, Florida; the temperature – outside – is 80˚F (27˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 48% and a northeasterly breeze blowing at 6 MPH (9 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 80˚F (27˚C). Today the high is expected to reach 83˚F 28 with partly sunny skies. Tonight, the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and the low will be 56˚F (13˚C).
Well, it’s been a week since my 58th birthday, and although I had a fairly peaceful and pleasant “Birthday Weekend,” I still have mixed feelings about being nearly 300 miles away from everything and everyone I knew in Miami. Intellectually, I understand that my situation here is idyllic compared to what would have happened had I not met the Caregiver a few weeks after Mom died in the summer of ’15 and allowed myself to be taken into her home a few months later. There’s no way that I could have afforded to repair and renovate my mom’s old house on my own, much less stayed in Miami with all the expenses involved in living in a condo with high monthly HOA fees, not to mention the monthly utility bills and other living expenses. Plus, I don’t have to deal with the craziness of my older half-sister Vicky.
And yet…I still have many moments when I get frustrated by the limitations imposed on me here. No, not by the Caregiver, at least not directly. Rather, I feel confined to the house where I live due to the geography of the neighborhood.
For instance, when I lived in East Wind Lake Village, the nearest shopping plaza with a supermarket, restaurants, and specialty stores was only a third of a mile away from the townhouse that was “home” from February of 1978 to April of 2016. From the time that we moved in a couple of weeks before my 15th birthday till the day I (sadly) left that house, I could walk to Winn-Dixie to buy a gallon of milk or eat a meal at one of the many restaurants in that shopping center. I didn’t have to depend on anyone to make sure I had cereal, bread, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, or a bunch of Chiquita bananas on hand; I could get it myself, especially during the few months that I lived alone in what used to be my house.
Here, though, I live in a nicely planned community with residences that are far nicer than the 43-year-old townhouse I left behind. I genuinely like the house I live in, although I’m not happy about having been banished from the master bedroom to the smallest habitable room. I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and a family unit to be a part of, despite the changes in the relationship with the Caregiver.
The fly in the ointment, from my perspective, is that in order to have shelter, food, company, and enough personal space to work and live in, I traded away much of my self-agency. I can’t cook my own meals unless they are something I can heat in the oven – say, like a Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza – because our stove is a gas one rather than the electric ones I learned to cook on.
And even before the COVID-19 pandemic made dining out a major hassle, I lost the ability to walk to the nearest restaurant – for instance, Outback Steakhouse – because that would entail a 2.1 mile walk.
That’s seven times farther than I had to walk when I used to go to Denny’s to grab a Dennyburger or a Moons Over My Hammy sandwich when I lived in my former home. Seven times.
So, yeah. Sometimes I get frustrated, even angry, over my current situation.
And yet, Dear Reader, I still think I am better off here than I was there.
Except, of course, when I’m craving a Dennyburger with fries or, yep, a Moons Over My Hammy.