Update: My sister texted me this photo this morning with the message “Greetings from Ohio!”
My sister is a wanderer. She’d really like to be able to stay in one place, but timing and circumstances seem to have conspired against her.
I’ve never visited either of her houses, neither the one in Idaho nor the one in California’s Bay Area. I have been to a number of her former homes, mind you, and there were a lot of them.
My sister migrated from New York to California about ten years before I did. Her young husband, who hailed from the east coast of Canada, was working as a high tech engineer in the go-go days of 1980s Silicon Valley. The two of them rented a little apartment in Palo Alto and their house hunting efforts proceeded apace. By the time I visited them during my first trip ever to the west coast, they were ensconced in a small house and were already looking for a larger one. Soon a son came along, and then a daughter, along with the big house and the big mortgage. But still they wanted more: More bedrooms, more land, more privacy. My niece and nephew had barely reached adolescence when my sister and her husband purchased some land out in the country and had their dream house custom built upon it. Although still in the Bay Area, the neighbor houses were far apart and the local wildlife had not yet disappeared. Deer leapt over their fences to munch on their landscaping. Walks up the hill frequently involved encounters with rattlesnakes.
And then my sister and her husband got divorced. The kids, who were still in high school, took it hard. While still married, my sister had a nose job (paid for by my mother after my sister made her feel guilty by insisting she was so unhappy that she might kill herself) and bariatric surgery that enabled her to lose an enormous amount of weight. Dissatisfied with her husband’s lack of attention to her, she began to look around online, dated numerous men and moved into the guest bedroom downstairs. Her husband was willing to go along with whatever she wanted as long as she stayed married to him. My sister, who had stayed home with the kids for a lot of years (spending all day in bed for several of them, presumably due to depression), didn’t have much of her own money and demanded that hubby give her money to buy a condo. Amazingly, he did. She moved into the condo, eventually selling it for a profit and hopping from one temporary abode to another after the kids were in college. Meanwhile, my niece and nephew bounced back and forth between their parents. Eventually, my sister purchased the Bay Area house that she now owns.
My sister was awarded alimony for five years, and she resolved to obtain training in a marketable skill during that time. She began attending school in Colorado to become an X-ray technician, then switched to studying sonography at a school in Texas. Having already tried and rejected several careers, including carpentry and public school teaching, she was determined to settle into the medical field. Once licensed as a sonographer, however, she found it difficult to land a job without experience. She settled for working for a traveling agency, whereupon she bounced around the country on temporary assignments that lasted from four to ten weeks. After a while, she had gained enough experience to land a permanent job. Unfortunately, it was in Idaho. She bought another house there, while renting out her California house through a real estate management company.
The main problem is that my sister has a difficult personality. She loves to argue and can’t seem to get along with anyone, whether romantically or as an employee. Several months later, she lost the job in Idaho, so she rented out that house, too, and resumed her wandering ways.
I can’t seem to keep track of my sister. I recall that she was in northern New Mexico, then in southern New Mexico, then clear across the country in Ohio. She flew to interviews in states that I’ve never been to, and I’ve visited most of them. Her fondest desire was to land a permanent position in the Bay Area so that she could return to the region that she loves and live in her house again. She almost made it.
Returning to California, my sister had planned to move in with my parents in the Central Valley for several months while she looked for a job. She made it about three or four days before they were at each other’s throats and she left my parents’ house. Her ex-husband has since remarried and lives with his two (now adult) kids as well as several of his wife’s children. They also rent out some of the bedrooms in their sprawling Palo Alto house because, well, you can imagine what the mortgage is like on a two million dollar home. My sister had the nerve to ask to stay there for a while. It should come as no surprise that the new wife would have none of it. So my sister and her cats bounced around from one weekly hotel room to another.
In September, she finally landed a job in Oakland. Still a little too far to commute from her house, but certainly getting warm. After a few weeks in Oakland, my sister finally found a job in the same town as her house. She had the real estate management company give her tenants a 60-day notice to quit. The new job was part-time and temporary, but had, she was assured, the very real potential to become full-time and permanent.
On my sister’s first day working back in her hometown, her already paltry hours were cut further. She bitched about this and, within days, was fired. The real estate management company assured her that, when her tenants leave, the place will be painted and rented out to new tenants for much more money.
Jobless again, my sister returned to the traveling agency. To her surprise, she discovered that the small Ohio hospital at which she had worked a brief assignment now wanted her back for several months. So on the road she went, once again a Buckeye, at least until January.
When I texted her a few nights ago, my sister responded that she was still en route. “Can’t type much while driving. I’ve stopped for the night in Ioaca, IA. One more full day of driving then a couple of hours into Dayton.”
I had never heard of Ioaca, Iowa, but I imagined it to be a tiny crossroads just off the freeway. Being the geography nerd that I am, of course I had to look it up. To my surprise, Google informed me that there is no such place: “Did you mean Isaca, Iowa? Ithca, Iowa? Ica, Iowa? Iacac, Iowa?”
Sweet dreams, Sis. Um, wherever you are.