Lighting Out For The Territory

“But I reckon I better light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it.  I been there before.”

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn


While I wasn’t looking, someone snuck up behind me and bought my house.  Well, not exactly “bought” yet, but all contingencies are removed and the closing date is set for October 3.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.  My realtor told me that our place is “special”, a euphemism for “old run down house with wonderful horse facilities.” She said it might take a year to sell, and that the right buyer would come along—someone who wasn’t too house proud, but who wanted to “live the dream,” as I did seventeen years ago.  Someone who had always wanted a horse of her own and had waited a very long time to get one—or two or three or maybe even four.  Someone, in short, just like me.  And let’s face it folks—how many people are out there who are just like me?  Apparently quite a few.  The house sold in ten weeks for close to the asking price. And there are back up buyers, who just didn’t get back to see it for a second showing in time.

For seventeen years, I put off having friends and family visit. I had no dinner parties because we were embarrassed.  The house was a mess.  The carpet was old, and pet worn and smelly, the roof leaked, the kitchen was hideous, the “powder room” was a disgrace with orange and brown tiles left over from the 1970’s. But my children, my dogs and my horses were blissfully happy with the place.  It was home. When my friend Catherine passed away in late 2012, she left me a little bit of money, which I used wisely for a new paint job, new carpet and curtains, a stunning garage renovation (after all, it belongs to my dogs!), a bathroom facelift and some nice hardware for the newly painted cabinets in the kitchen.  Friends began to visit.  They said, “We love your place.”  As I walked around the vacuumed soft carpet and outside among the newly trimmed hedges, pruned eucalyptus, reseeded pastures and freshly dragged arena, I said to myself, “They are right.  I love this place.”

But there was sadness here for me as well—the tack room with photos of children long grown and horses long passed lining the walls, the empty bedrooms, and the dogs dearly departing, one by one.  And the cost of maintenance in drought stricken energy gridlocked southern California was a daily reminder of the fact that in March of this year, I retired from my full time job so that I could experience a little more life, and a little less death.  It was a good decision, and one I don’t regret, but a reduction in cost of living was a necessary corollary.  So the house went on the market, and here we are.  I need to find a place to live and I don’t have much time.  My youngest son, and eighty nine year old father are still here in San Diego, but I yearn for the open spaces and big skies of the west.  New Mexico, with its spectacular sunsets and mix of cultures has indeed been the Land of Enchantment for me.

It’s not clear yet, but I may, like Huck, be soon lighting out for the territories.  I hope you will all come and visit.  Wish me good luck!


  1. How bittersweet! I hope you can stay there for a while after closing so you don’t have to rush away too soon. We’ve put our “let’s get together” off long enough. Unfortunately, I’ll be in Sedona for a week after you close. Would love to stop by & see it before you leave. I have memories of gatherings there in years past. Where does the time go?!

    1. Linder, they’re letting us lease back til Oct 29th so there’s time. Call me after you get back from Sedona–would love to see both you and Nancy. I’ll take you out to lunch. M

  2. For 25 cents you can paint the fence, Becky, and from now on, may all your fences be turquoise. Congrats and best wishes!

  3. I hope your friends there don’t think me selfish but I want you to move here so you are close to me in The Land of Enchantment because it truly is just that!.

  4. This reminds me of our downsizing days! The feeling of trepidation will soon be over once the new adventures start happening! Wishing you many new happy experiences!

  5. Ohhh, now I am crying! I am so happy you are getting what you need. You will thrive carrying a lighter load and in those vast, open spaces.

  6. Better the house sold sooner than later?! Wow, that was fast! Meant to be :>) Someone will be happy with your old house and you can begin a new chapter in life – enjoy!

  7. I fully understand your attachment to the house. After all you have many memories
    of it. However , there comes a time when one has to move. I am sure in time you will enjoy your new home and someone will enjoy your old one .
    Best Wishes

  8. It’s been almost two years since I sold a house I had tuned up and loved. I left Michigan and moved to Carmel, CA. My house sold fast and in a cash deal so no bank appraisals and all that gives you a bit more time was eliminated. I had a week to find a house somewhere in the Carmel area. I had about 10-15 places to check out. Ended up renting something much, much smaller and less “done” than what I’d come from. It’s all fine. I really think things have a way of unfolding and working out. I am closer to family on the west coast. Buck, my SDH, and I walk on the Carmel beach most days and meet new people, dogs and love the every changing look of things. Change is a good way to notice each day. Sometimes its a little scary and lonesome. But it’s mostly exciting and fun and feels good. Hope our paths cross one of these days. It will be interesting to find out what’s next with your life. NM sounds just great. Putting your place on the market got a ball rolling. Good for you!

  9. Good luck with all this transition! Keep on posting whereever you are. Hope all your beasts will be just as happy as they’ve been in San Diego. They’ve probably been happy because they’re with you.

  10. All, the pull of New Mexico! I understand it all too well, and plan to ‘light out for the territories’ myself in a year or two. There are some lovely places near Albuquerque (Corrales, Placitas) that are rural and open yet close enough to good medical care and the university community. Lots of wonderful sighthound folks around (from the good ol’ boys to the fancy), great open field coursing country. Good luck, and great decision 🙂

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *