Time got away from me. My daughter was here for a week. I was entertaining her, catching up, having fun. I got a second temp job which I thought was going to be one day a week but the guy hadn’t entered anything in Quickbooks for a year, so I worked two days and we’re still not caught up. Everything needed to be entered; checks paid, deposits made, credit card statements to expense. All sorts of fun stuff. We were reinventing the wheel. I was bleary eyed by the end of the day and couldn’t sit down to write.
Other things were happening. We backed out of the offer we made on the house. The appraisal came in lower than our offer. We did some investigating. The neighborhood was lovely but it was a small little pocket in an area that was going nowhere. That happens a lot here in Florida. Things change quickly from block to block. We talked to people. A friend who lived near the house, across Federal Highway on the Intracoastal. A wealthy real estate investor who knew the area well and said the house was overpriced. We aren’t wealthy. We are not investors. This is all the money we have. We decided to pull the plug.
We need to regroup. We’re looking for another apartment. Our lease is up October 1st. We need a place where we can sleep. Honestly, I never sleep well. I am a woman of a certain age. Three a.m. is all too familiar. But one a.m. is all new territory. I used to be up at one in the morning but that’s when I was in my twenties, returning home from live music clubs called the Rat or Spit. It was the eighties. I was into the Clash, The Specials, Elvis Costello, the New York Dolls. Punk, ska, reggae. I had no problem getting up at six, taking the subway into town, working all day, and going back out at night to do it all again.
So we’re searching for a place to live. Another apartment for now. We clearly need to get to know the area better. Florida is a different beast than New Hampshire. The weather is better, much better. I’m searching for something a little more than that. We’ll restart the search for a house when we get back from Colorado in September. Or maybe we’ll just rent. We’re rethinking home ownership, the American Dream. It’s beginning to look like another housing bubble is brewing. Wall Street has moved to South Florida.
In case you’re wondering, I have been walking. On Days 94 and 95 we walked and picnicked at the beach with my daughter. The sunsets were beautiful.
My husband, my working class hero, worked all weekend. In walking terms, that’s Days 96 and 97. Our daughter returned to Denver on Saturday. I met Rich for lunch on Sunday. We ate our sandwiches amidst the concrete dust, sitting on two by fours in the house he’s painting. There’s very little sawdust on the work sites here. Houses are made from concrete block, not wood. He went back to work, I took a walk.
I was close to the beach but it was hot, humid, sticky. The midday sun was brutal. I was looking for shade. Some of the streets around here have lots of trees. I wanted to walk along the intracoastal, so I set out to find it.
At the end of this street, I came across what the town of Delray is calling a park. They have provided a bench to sit on.
But there is no parking at the park.
I was excited when I arrived at the top of a tree-lined street. The only other time I walked along the Intracoastal was in the public park behind the loading docks and dumpsters of the shopping plaza I temp at with the Juice Guys. I thought there might be a small walking path here. I picked up my pace, despite the heat. It was cooler here in the shade. I reached “the park”. Notice the park is now in parentheses. It’s a postage stamp plot, the size of three parking spaces, but you can’t park here.
You also have to leave at dusk. I’m laughing now, at the absurdity of calling this tiny plot of land a park. I walk six paces to my right. I run into a concrete wall. Someone’s yard is on the other side of the wall.
I walk in the other direction.
I find a prettier road block on this side. I look across the intracoastal where some guys like my husband work the weekends on yet another house that will block public access to the Intracoastal.
I try to imagine the house that was there before. Most likely some cute little old Style Florida bungalow from a by-gone era. I sit on the bench.
I wonder how many other people actually sit on this bench. My mind wanders to Yellowstone and Teddy Roosevelt. The motto of the national parks, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” I watch a boat pass by.
Back in the neighborhood where my husband is working on four different houses, I pass an awful lot of construction. The streets are being torn up, houses are being torn down and rebuilt in a “Key West” style. When we first visited this area, you could buy houses from 200-400K. These new, improved, “better” houses will go for $600-800.
I recently spoke to a friend on Cape Cod who just bought a house. He bid on six houses before he got one. On the first few he offered less than asking price. Then he offered asking price, then more than asking price. The houses were disappearing off the market in six days or less. After months of this, he got his house. So, it’s not just here. It’s anywhere people want to vacation, be near the water, boat and beach. Because it’s certainly not happening in Detroit.
I keep walking and arrive at a literal road block. We’re not even pretending to have a park on this street. I abort my mission of find a walking trail along the Intracoastal and loop around the block, away from the water, back to my car, and drive home.
Since I’ve moved to Florida, I watch less news. I read the travel section of the New York Times, although I can’t stay away from the Op-Eds. I spent a lot of time and energy over the years working for politicians from George McGovern to Barack Obama. I spent years struggling with leaders like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. I live in a world my generation created. A very different world than my childhood. I see my father comfortably retired with a pension, social security and medicare. I wonder what my “retirement” will be like. I know I will be working.
I see friends in their fifties still getting laid off from jobs. These people range from machinists to IT professionals to CEO’s. Some of them try working on their own, tired of the corporate run around. They struggle with that, too.
I was looking forward to January 2014 when Obamacare went into action. I’m paying a pretty penny for COBRA health insurance. I was looking forward to searching the insurance exchanges we were promised for affordable health insurance. Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor and their gang of thugs and fools who run the Congress are hell bent on blocking a bill that was passed by the Congress, approved by the Supreme Court, and endorsed by We the People when we re-elected Barack Obama for a second term. If they succeed, you may find me crashing the halls of Congress, delivering my January COBRA bill to Mitch. He can afford to pay my bill, right? After all, my tax dollars pay for his awesome health insurance and his generous pension. Quid pro quo.
I’ve pretty much stayed away from politics these past few months. Most of the time. I’m out walking and observing the world around me. Sometimes I don’t like what I see. However, most of the time the world around me is a pretty amazing place.