Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Home Sweet Home


Twenty thirteen is proving challenging on many fronts: personal, financial, family, emotional. In the spate of recent blows - two job rejections, health insurance denial (me, not Jasper), a complicated relationship, bleak financial landscape - the hardest was learning that we will be forced out of our apartment come July.

Since October 2011, Jasper and I have lived in a triplex in a century old house in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. An old house is not without problems - old kitchen, old plumbing, drafty. To that add barely functioning appliances, too few kitchen cabinets, and no storage space. But our apartment is charming, bright, safe and within walking distance to most everything one could need. I especially love Jasper's room, with one wall of built in shelving, flanking the window, and full with stuffed animals, books, music, and a growing collection of toys "for later." I constantly rearrange the animals, and Jasper promptly tosses them to the floor.

Last fall, the house was purchased by a new landlord, who resides in Arizona, my native state, for most of the year. Our lease expires in July, so a few weeks ago, I contacted the landlord to ask about our options, would it be possible to go month to month once our lease is up? At first, she replied, No, we couldn't modify our current lease to be month to month. Realizing her misunderstanding, I clarified I meant after our current lease ends. She responded: Construction improvements are scheduled to begin on August 1, the apartment will not be available for rent after that. But we live here, was my first thought, this is our home. I had considered moving several times. But it is a harsh, belittling feeling, being told you have to move. You have no choice, it is not your decision. I thought of all the work involved in moving, the expense, the fierce competition for a decent apartment in a desirable neighborhood, packing, cleaning, trying to recruit moving help and most of all...Jasper.

Moving, transition is hard on any kid. I can only imagine how hard it will be for a little boy who is vision impaired and has worked so hard to map out this little world we call home. Jasper learned to crawl, pull to stand, cruise, walk, run, and backward walk in this house. His home is the most familiar, comfortable place in the world for him. Whenever we return from a trip, even when away at a friend's house for a few days to avoid toxic construction fumes from downstairs, I delight in watching Jasper come home, hurrying around, going from room to room, checking on his toys, reacquainting, reconnecting. As a parent of a child with cortical vision impairment, it has been drilled into me - by books, therapists, but mostly by Jasper himself - how children with CVI prefer the familiar to the new. Familiar toys, people, environments - we are still working on breaking in holiday and birthday toys. It is hard to comprehend how profoundly moving will rock his world, turn it upside down. Thinking about it breaks my heart. And reinforces my goal of finding a permanent address for Jasper and me. I am realistic enough to realize that such a goal is at least two moves away.

There are plenty of problems to work out between now and July. Details, like how to find a new home without a job, without help?

This was written during the night. I am increasingly losing sleep to worrying. I have developed the bad habit of leaving my phone next to the bed at night, something I have never done. I pick up the phone, and search the internet for jobs, housing, solutions to my problems. Unfortunately there is no "dream job" listing on craigslist. Jasper, who sleeps next to me, suddenly sits up, half asleep. I put the phone down, take his small hand in mine, and cuddle, soothing him back to sleep, hoping he takes me along with him.

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