"I'll sublet my apartment and avoid paying rent on two places and on a round-trip flight," I said in a text to my daughter, Jill. And as I did tiny typing, I felt as euphoric as if I had just come up with a cure for a confounding disease.
When I posited this same untethered and economic reasoning to neighbors, friends, and relatives -- who have been privy to swift decisions and moves in my past -- they responded with either thumbs up or down.
"I'm 76 and currently in good health," I pressed on, hoping to swat away debate. "If I'm going to make a major move, it should be sooner rather than later. I don't want to wait until my daughters are touring nursing homes for their dear old mum."
And despite my assurances that previous hasty steps have always landed me on my feet, I could imagine my worriers trembling, as if I were about to skydive and they were watching helpless from the ground below.
It didn't take long for Jill to respond to my text. "Whoa," she sent back. "Take the expense out of the equation. Instead of moving here, what about extending the two weeks to an entire month? See how it feels to drive our hills, and to experience everyday life here?
"It's your anxiety that has you speeding ahead," she diagnosed. Jill has previously identified this condition, but after her text, I wondered: could she be having second thoughts about my slide from third base in Chicago to Home in L.A.?
I took the preemptive route. "If you're concerned that I'll turn into a crone [Wikipedia: disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing], you needn't worry. When I can see you year 'round, rather than three times a year, I won't be so demanding of your time."
"I'm not worried," she said.
But am I? I accepted Jill's suggestion. Instead of rushing ahead, I will book the entire month of November in Los Angeles as a test drive. Accompanying my excitement, though, is a new internal query: How will I spend the 30 days to prevent becoming a drain on my daughter and her family?
To answer, I perused my August calendar. Penciled in are lunches with friends, a haircut, a therapy appointment, a Mani/Pedi, doctor and dentist visits, workouts at a health club, a party, Saturday Torah study, and client meetings. November already has two major scheduled dates: a reading for my new memoir in Los Angeles at Skylight Books on the 19th and Thanksgiving on the 27th, which gives me a head start.
So, prior to November, I will seek surrogates for many of the above engagements. Along with these out-of-the-house appointments, I'll have my journal and laptop for daily writing, and several books that have been twiddling their pages on my nightstand.
"Whatever you find," I told Jill who is spearheading the November house search, "it must have a deck so I can sit outside with my morning coffee and notebook." This is the image I draw into my brain at 2:30 a.m., when excitement or anxiety (is the kid right?) jiggles me out of slumber.
In an effort to lull myself back to sleep, I take three deep breaths; hold each for a moment, and then release -- just as instructed in my daily relaxation podcast. And, as each part of my body is coaxed to soften, I conjure a still-dark morning in Los Angeles, a deck chair, side table, a cup of tongue-burning Intelligentsia coffee, my journal, and my Extra Fine Razor Point Pilot Pen.
Like a dog with an eager nose (If a permanent move is in my future, I will have a rescued pup at my side.), I sniff the air to catch scents of nearby blossoms and fruit trees. It is early, pre-dawn; no one else is awake. A porch light illuminates my writing. There is no noise, save indigenous birds that chirp me a "good morning."
This image -- serene and soulful -- is embedded in my brain. If any of my fretting friends posit, "what if's," or if my own quivering surfaces, I'll just take my three deep breaths, and as I exhale, replay my imagined scene. I can almost smell the peach trees, can't you?