As I mentioned when I lost my job this year, I really need to leave Auckland. I just haven’t done anything about it yet. I’ve been under the thumb of my depression for the last couple months and I’ve found motivation difficult to come by. I’ve been sleeping a lot. But inactivity will not help. I need to take some action to improve things. It’s time to find a place I want to move to.
One of the reasons I’ve been struggling is that a few months back my mom came to live with me. Her Multiple Sclerosis has caused too much cognitive decline and she couldn’t keep working any more, or live alone. It’s not like it was a surprise. MS has a predictable progression. We’ve been lucky that she’s been able to work up till now. She’s still mobile without a wheelchair, but mentally it’s getting much more obvious. MS doesn’t change your IQ, it just destroys your executive function and language skills. Plus she’s also autistic, so that makes things even more challenging. When you talk to her she very clearly sits askew from the world. She has meltdowns fairly frequently. I’ve been interpreting the world for her since I was about eight.
I’m still dealing with some sadness that this will be my life now, but I have always known it was coming. 95% of the reason I bought this particular condo was that it was one level, with a lift, so she’d be able to physically manage getting around. Plus there are close neighbors, and a small, contained local shopping centre with a great library. (I didn’t grok that MS would take away her ability to read a book. Fuck MS.)
So yeah, this isn’t a surprise, but it’s just . . . I had kind of bargained on still being employed when she needed to retire.
Real dollars and cents talk: My mortgage is NZD$1610 a month, which is bloody cheap for Auckland, much cheaper than rent. I am very lucky. My property tax is $6,000 a year, and my condo fees are $516 a month. Add in groceries for two, non-subsidized medications, and clothes, and I can’t support both of us on my savings for all that long.
So, solution: if I move out of Auckland I won’t have condo fees or a mortgage. On the down side I definitely will have less chance of getting a job — there’s little employment out of the main centers — but frankly I’m close to unemployable anyway. I’m an autistic non-gender-conforming fat woman over 40 with an utterly impractical PhD. There are very few niches for me.
So on Monday 28 November I start leg one of my Find A New Home road trip. A four-day road trip along the Kapiti Coast, from Otaki down to Pauatahanui. The northern point of the Kapiti Coast is still only 90 minutes away from Wellington Hospital, so it’s close enough to drive my mom to her hospital appointments.
I’m looking for a community where I think I could make a life. This process makes me really evaluate all the things that I think I “need” for contentment. I feel like I need a cafe where they know my name and I can get a good flat white and sit at a table for two hours and no-one will huff impatient sighs at me. But, you know, that’s not a need. Maybe I have to give that up. I think I need a library nearby. But I guess once a month I could drive to a library. It would make me finish my tbr pile.
I do need space. I need to be able to shut myself away from my mom and get some down time. Maybe I could look for a place with a yard big enough to build a tiny writing cabin with a desk and a day bed.
But I do need internet. This one is not negotiable.
And you know what? I’ll finally be able to get another cat. I’m so ready for a cat.
I am so lucky to have these options. I am so lucky to have fluked my way into an unprecedented housing price rise. I get to cash out of the market now and live a good life in a safe, beautiful country, when I did nothing to deserve it. All I can do is try to pay it forward where I can. Maybe I need to find a place with a guest room for American friends to come for retreats, although I’m not sure that will do much to ease the pain you are feeling right now, or the future you are facing.
Two weeks until I leave. I’ll take my camera and laptop and keep y’all updated.