I recently moved from my home of 26 years.
When I was on the hunt for a new place, I wasn’t willing to just move into any random house, townhouse, condo, or apartment. No way, and I had my reasons.
If you read my blog titled “Seeing My Way Through Some Big Life Changes” you would know that I am in the process of a divorce. Divorce is not for sissys and it has not been an easy road to navigate. During one of the meetings we had, there was a moment, one of many, I will remember for a long time.
In this meeting, the conversation was going in a direction I was not expecting, I was asked, “If you move out of the house, what are some things you might want or; uhh, require?”. Requirements? Of course, I knew she was alluding to my disability. I was not prepared for this question. Not even a little bit.
I immediately felt my anxiety rise up from the depths. Which would appear first? My tears or my voice. I didn’t know.
My thoughts ran wild.
Wait wait Wait. WHAT? He stays? I move? Oh god… this wasn’t what we had previously discussed. What is happening?
I suspected this was now the direction the conversation was headed in. I could barely speak and this was not the time to pretend that everything was fine and stay quiet. Speaking up and being assertive when I needed to be were things I had not been comfortable doing for many years. For some of you, that may be hard to believe, but you don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors – even with your closest friends.
The thoughts continued.
Don’t panic. Breathe. Stay calm. If there was ever a time to gather all your courage, it’s NOW! So, keep it together and speak up. Do it! Your future is at stake.
There is a quote that says, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”, and that’s exactly what I did.
These were some of the things I said that day. Depending on your own life experiences, you might relate to one, none, or all of then.
1. I want to stay in my community.
I have lived in my community for 28 years. 22 of them with full vision and 6 of them legally blind. I am familiar with many of the businesses and shops as well as the people who work at them. I have worked at the same gym, in the middle of town, for 16 years. And most importantly, the friendships I have formed here are priceless, irreplaceable, and make up an incredible support team for me. I can not and will not leave my terrific team!
2. I want to remain somewhat “convenient” for my friends.
The part of town I have lived in for decades is close to the places I am familiar with. Most of my friends live in this area too. If I can stay in this part of town, it would still be convenient for any of my friends to pick me up and/or drop me off for work and play. I don’t want to be too far “out of the way”, adding more miles and time for those who regularly drive me.
3. I want to live in a house, not a condo or apartment complex.
A house is more times than not, simple and easy for friends, family, paratransit buses, and rideshare drivers to find. The corn maze-like layouts of some complexes can be ridiculous. Constantly giving directions to drivers on how to find me — in hopes that they do find me — would leave me feeling anxious (and quite frankly, would become a real pain in the ass!). Remember, I can’t look for my rides, they have to look for me. So, yeah. Let’s keep the Hide ‘n Seek game simple for all involved.
4. I want to reside in a neighborhood I feel safe in.
I suspect most people would feel that way, blind or sighted, when looking for a home. Every town has that one sketchy area, so don’t judge me for saying it. I can’t see who comes to my door or whos walking down the street. So, yes, a nice quiet, and safe neighborhood is preferable.
5. I want a house that would be manageable for me as a blind person – with or without my kids living with me.
I thought a single-story house with a simple layout would be the best choice. Many of you understand that some stairs leading to/from a second-floor can be visually tricky. Appliances and any special features should be accessible or could easily be made accessible for me. (Hello Bump Dots!) A house that has poor lighting or gets little to no sunlight is dreary and does nothing to help me utilize the cloudy peripheral vision I still have. Usually, a house has a front and backyard and I’d prefer it to be simple and easy to maintain.
6. I’m not so sure I want this one, but maybe I need it.
Perhaps I need to look for a new beginning. A new space to fill as I want to — physically and emotionally. I could bring in the thoughts and things that would serve me best. A place to settle in and figure out a new normal. Maybe. Just maybe.
So, where ate things at now?
Well, I decided I would move out of the house. It was the best choice for everyone. The hunt for a new place that would include the things I wanted was overwhelming. When I say overwhelming, I mean, it would take a whole nutha blog to discuss and describe that stressful process. Let’s just say that being fully sighted and having a car with the ability to drive is a huge plus when house hunting!
Today, my kids and I (plus 2 cats) live in a nice little house, and we call it home. Did I get all the things I talked about above? No. However, I think hitting 5 out of 6 with a backyard POOL, isn’t too bad. And with time, we will adjust to living in our new pad.