Just Knock on the Tree
The Odyssey of the Coddiwompling Tortoise – Rozinante – and The Storyteller
(Coddiwomple: to travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.)
‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’ or so Lao Tzu said. Nevertheless, those stepping stones on the pathway of that journey can sometimes look like boulders.
Art classes would be a thing of the past.
I had scaled down from a three-bedroomed house to not just a smaller house or a two-bedroom flat, or even a one-bedroom flat. I had turned my back on everything I previously thought I needed in order to have a lovely home — for a motorhome. When people said they understood how I felt, having just moved house themselves, they actually had no idea whatsoever. I had sold, given away, donated to Hospice and kept only a few keepsakes. Nothing large could accompany me. Many precious objects, if not stored with dear friends, would need to disappear forever.
Storage fees were prohibitive. I had seven boxes of ‘must keeps’ and I‘d need to rent at least half a single garage to house them. It didn’t make sense and to pay about R750 a month to do so, made even less sense. Close friends, who were also in my age bracket, took some of them but even they either didn’t have space or they were intending to downsize themselves. In the end, I offered my housekeeper, Lizzy, a reasonable amount to store them at her home. Bless her big heart, she accepted. All the while, I realised how possessions have a stranglehold on us. We just don’t really need all the ‘stuff’ we cling to so fiercely. They’re emotional attachments. (Unfortunately, my dearest Lizzy died on June 28th, 2020.) She will be fondly remembered as not only a sterling housekeeper but a loyal friend. I will miss her for so many reasons – notwithstanding just her great sense of humour.)
It had taken a slow six months for the new buyer of my home to complete transactions but at that stage, I still hadn’t found the motorhome I needed. I pored over Caravan magazines, watched YouTube vlogs and drooled at some of the very upmarket motorhomes out there that I couldn’t afford. It didn’t worry me but I needed to have a place to stay till I found my ‘tortoise’ I’d dubbed Rozinante – the old nag that rose to the occasion as the noble steed carrying Don Quixote in the classic novel of the same name by Miguel de Cervantes. I had seen the stage play, The Man of La Mancha, when I was a child growing up in Sydney. I never forgot it and I daresay, more specifically, the important message it carries.
I’d learnt from my reading that with all the really necessary things in it to live and work in a motorhome, it would be heavier and would chew fuel, so I would need to drive more slowly. Plus, a low mileage on the clock was more important than anything else.
Fortunately, my dear friend, Astrid, came to the rescue and offered her home for both me and all the other stuff I couldn’t decide on keeping or discarding until I set off. Astrid understood my motivation. Her late husband, John, or Twiddie, as we affectionately called him, had been a geologist and camping out was also a passion of hers.
People who pack a swimming costume, two pairs of jeans and a few other clothes plus a jersey in case the weather changed, just for an uncomplicated jaunt by the seaside, have no conception of what I was facing. I had left a three-bedroomed home for a very scaled-down way of living. I was a little like Alice in Wonderland who saw the bottle labelled ‘Drink me’ and had shrunk to a miniscule size. I was living in a strange new world but never once did I falter in my belief that I was doing the right thing.
Prior to this decision, I had toyed with the idea of teaching English somewhere in the world. Possibly, Vietnam. I had holidayed there and enjoyed the people. Another option was sending all my furniture and everything else I owned to Australia. Considering the 10-1 exchange rate that was not in my favour with the poor state of the South African currency, well … that just wasn’t feasible. I kept returning to my first idea – or was it my idea? I felt it was an answer to prayer and why was I even momentarily diverging from it? I had had too many instances of guidance through prayers. I knew I had made the correct decision. See my book: Deep Talk – death does not exist (published by Booklocker.com and available from many other different outlets), for some of my life’s spiritual experiences. We all have free will but I was convinced I had been guided to move in this direction.
Wallspace in the van would not allow for my own paintings and Australian prints.
After 36 years in one home, I still had so much stuff of which I couldn’t let go. I kept asking myself ‘what if’ I need this or that and how can I let go of those because I might need them. The size of my new abode would determine it all and I couldn’t decide as I just didn’t know how much space I would have. I felt guilty that I was invading Astrid’s home with boxes and bags and the decision would need to be made soon. Thankfully, bless her, Astrid has a heart the size of Texas and she took a deep breath, knowing my departure was imminent.
Of course, even Ty, my son, came up with a lot of objections that he felt might have appealed to my ‘common sense’, such as: “You need to have a place to live” or “If you invested the money, you could have so much a month to live on” and so on. What he expected me to do in a place with four walls – heaven forbid – I don’t know. I’d just spent eight years in an office as a copy editor and that was quite enough. As much as I’d enjoyed it, existing surrounded by four walls was not my passion. If I invested the money, where would I live? His place was just too small and I certainly didn’t want to be a meddling mother in her son’s life, even if he’d had the space. I was fortunate enough to be in good health and if I didn’t do it now, when would I?
Perhaps the most amusing statement was from Ty’s girlfriend, Kelly, who pinned him down and demanded, “Well, of course, you ARE going to STOP your mother, aren’t you?!”
His reaction was a loud guffaw before he laughingly replied, “You don’t know my mother very well, do you?”
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