My name is Leah, I am 28, recently married, and living in Los Angeles. And when I say Los Angeles, I mean West Hollywood, more or less. I work in Beverly Hills, the 90210, cause it’s all about the zip code. I travel between the two daily, back and forth, to and from work, and it’s all about the scene, the be seen, and where you are seen, and with who, and what are you wearing and driving. For my livelihood, I manage the money of filthy rich people, and some not so rich, but who manage to retain our services. I see obscene amounts of money being thrown around on frivolous shit. But that’s not the point. My husband too works in Beverly Hills, or did, until recently. Ed was in life settlements, he wrote life insurance policies for high net worth individuals, which are then sold on the secondary market. Well, that was the idea anyway. So in our respective professions, we were skirting on the edge of the money club, the high rollers and fliers, and traders and buyers, and we were planning on joining the club ourselves. The country club isn’t so much our scene, but it was part of the game, and we would have money to play with.
Well, I’m sure you noticed, I spoke of my husband's job in the past tense, as the credit markets tightened, his company, which needed heavy capital flow to operate, started to implode, and he, although part owner, was quickly ousted with no warning and no severance. So we are faced with an option, my job does not provide enough to maintain the two of us here, so we could stay here living our LA life going into debt, Ed could find a job he doesn’t like and that doesn’t pay as well, or move elsewhere with a lower cost of living and start over there. I’m getting tired of the city, and it’s non-stop video game action, Ed’s never lived anywhere except in the metropolitan area that is LA, and we have both been itching for a change, I just did not expect it would happen so soon, or that it would take this form, but we got kicked out the door and are under duress.
Ed’s folks, who are getting on in years, have a 5-arce farm in southwest Oregon. We have talked in the past that we would like to get a hold of that property, for our own retirement. It’s in the middle of a valley, surrounded by vineyards and farmers. Well, Grant and Carol suggested that we move up now, we can get back on our feet and help them around the farm. I’m having more of a panic episode than Ed is, especially given that it was him who lost his job. But I am learning to let go of whatever it is that I’m holding onto and explore this new segment of my life. And there is a peace there, at the bottom of the panic and several bottles of wine.
Another constant topic of conversation between my husband and I, is the unhealthy, unnatural way in which humans pass through this life, (this is a very large topic on which I could write a book, and maybe one day I will). And I like to come up with ways and means in which we can live more in tune with nature. We bought a Toyota Prius, and recycle, and use our own cloth bags at the grocery store. But we are still living in an artificial environment. Eating packaged goods, fruit that was picked 10 days and 5000 miles ago, and half of it doesn’t taste that good, but I’m a picky eater so that doesn’t mean anything. And these things weigh upon our consciousness. I studied anthropology, Ed studied philosophy, I thought you should know this, as it greatly effects the prism through which we view the world.
I grew up on somewhat of a farm, although it was in Tucson, AZ. But my dad managed to keep a garden, it was bigger than our house, and he spent more time out there then he did in the house. We always had fresh fruit and veggies, let’s see, corn, tomatoes, cucumber (although it took him a few years to find a cucumber variety that did not grow bitter in the desert) squash, beans, mint, grapes, apricots, lemons, pecans (it takes seven years for a pecan tree to start producing) oranges, I can’t remember it all. We had a pig once, some sheep (that all ended up in our freezer), chickens (I had to go collect eggs). However I also grew up in restrictive religious household, and am having to tease out in my head, that I can take joy in the more domestic aspects of life, and joy in working the earth and self-sustaining, without feeling stifled or shafted into that roll. This is my task. Along with figuring out what I want to do with my life and how to get there.
First things first, we are buying a used Airstream trailer, via Craigslist with the aid of Grant, Ed’s step-dad. This too has been a stressful process, and it’s still in process. I’m going to be living in a trailer. This is also a difficult bone to swallow. I have an impressed image of a dumpy trailer with pleated beige sides, with a bad painting of an eagle and squiggly multi-colored lines down the side panel, surrounded by trash and broken down vehicles, empty bottles, and inside there was a fat drunken man on the couch yelling at the woman in the kitchen with the sink overflowing with dirty dishes, and the two year old with a sagging diaper crawling across the filthy floor. Okay, that’s not going to be my trailer, we are getting an Airstream, classic you see, and Ed is anal about cleanliness, so that helps, and we won’t be in a trailer park in the desert, we’ll be on a 5-arce lush farm.
I have so much to learn, and little time to learn it in, but really I have all the time in my life to learn. I want to learn composting, and winemaking. Ed wants to raise Alpacas, they are sheared for their wool, and bred, so we could get stud fees. But that is down the road. We will eventually build a log cabin, as environmentally friendly as possible. And when Ed’s folks pass on we will transform their house into a guest house, and turn part of the barn into a studio, and our little farm can be an artist's community, where people can come and contribute and create. At least that’s the idea. But first we need to get jobs as soon as possible after arriving, and establish ourselves.
It’s hard, you know, firstly because during this phase of our transition, Ed is able to be at home, with the windows open and his music playing, and he has the leisure to collect his thoughts and organize the house, preparing for the move. I, on the other hand, am still obliged to an office, and all the stresses that come along with it, and haven’t had as much time to sit and be with my thoughts as he has. Due to the complicated nature of my work, and the smallness of my office, I now have the pleasure of finding and training my replacement. Which is eating time out of my workday, and adding to the stress. I get very little relaxing in, and I was never that good at relaxing anyway.
And here we are, and from here we go. I sometimes wonder how far I’ll go. Will we get a cow, and I’ll milk it myself, and make my own cheese, grow my own cotton, make my own clothes, make my own paper? I will try to grow as much food as I can. Potatoes for sure. Also I want to harvest rainwater, use it to water the plants and animals. It rains a lot there, so I’ll have to learn the proper storage of water, and filter it for drinking water.
I have concerns about the circumstances. The major one is that I will be living on the same property as my in-laws, who I don’t know that well, but what I do know of them concerns me as being over-bearing and abrasive. But good, good folk trying to get by best they know how.