Friday, January 17, 2020

Love Letters to my life #19: Life on Joy Lane

Reno Dance
by Joyce Wycoff

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life. This month, I get to celebrate both my death day and my birth day on the same day!)
The refrigerator is naked, shorn of its magnets, clearly a sign that another move is underway. The number of moves I’ve made in my life is clearly ridiculous. 
However, I hear a whisper, “last time.” 
I respond, “I’ve heard that before.”

This time it could be true. This move was prompted by Joy … literally. Being raised poor, I sometimes have reactions that surprise me. Over my many moves, I’ve lived in a wide variety of homes, from a stunning, view home in Santa Barbara to a tiny cabin in the woods. Recently, my Social Security years have directed me to mobile home parks, ranging from elegant to funky. While there was a slight status adjustment to living in a “manufactured home,” it didn’t last long because they were well-built, comfortable, and felt like a “real house."

My move from Mexico to Reno landed me in an RV “park model” on the river; the equivalent of a tiny house, which was “quirky by choice.” “Quirky" tempered “tiny" leaving my status bubble in balance. When my space rent increased a few months later, I opened my thinking to other options and started looking at mobile homes again. Reno has recently gained the distinction of being one of the most expensive cities in the country, so affordable pickings were slim.  

When a realtor suggested an affordable option, all I heard was “old, single-wide trailer.” No way. It would be like being branded “poor and old; worthless." I refused to even look at it, offering excuses such as “flat roof” and “dark.” Jim played it perfectly, offering to keep looking. In the meantime, the thought of being in a park community with neighbors, an exercise room, pool, and so on, was growing on me, so I went driving around looking at possibilities. Nothing quite worked.

Jim called back with some other things to think about, places I’d already driven by and rejected. Then he said, “By the way, that place I told you about has a pitched roof. You really should look at it … the owners have completely remodeled it.” He went on to outline all the things they had done and sent me a link to the listing. The photos looked interesting but what caught me was the address: 1538 Joy Lane. How could I not look at something on Joy Lane?

However, I can’t say I walked in with an open mind or heart. I tried hard to find the fatal flaw. However, everywhere I looked, this small house had been remodeled with great love and beautiful materials. Slowly my objections drained away and I began to see myself living there. When the owners returned, they pointed out even more of the carefully crafted details and we developed a strong rapport. The next day I made an offer that was accepted. 
Joy Lane Kitchen
So, will this be my forever home? Who knows? I love Reno in so many ways (although cold, winter days are not my favorite). For the first time in many years, I'm living close to the only family I have, whom I love and enjoy immensely, and I’ve just found a place that fits me and my budget. I’ll miss living by the river but we know each other well enough now that I can visit frequently. 

And, I’m gaining neighbors and a club house. That’s rather amusing since neither has ever been high on my list of druthers. At this beginning of my 75th year, I feel like I’m in some sort of backward evolution process. For most of my life, I’ve been moving out into the world through school and career, choosing living spaces that let me sink into the solitude required for my introverted self. Now that I no longer spend the bulk of my time in the world of work, solitude is an overflowing joy -- one that needs to be tempered by interaction with others and enhanced by conversation and camaraderie.

A new life … on Joy Lane … one never knows where life will take us.


  1. Perfect! Who knows, I may come looking for an empty "tiny home" right down the way from this new home. I certainly understand the desire to have a neighbor or two that are within a fairly short where you could have a cuppa tea without taking a half hour drive! And, the cold you speak about seems to come and go and is mostly in a dry climate....not the wet kind of cold one gets in more southern areas. The photo of the kitchen, alone, makes me happy for you...even though you don't love to's really attractive and looks pretty new. So, Happy Birthday and may you continue to write your death day articles for many, many more years. We have some kind of strange history together....and your life and happiness matter to me greatly. Sending love....and wishes that I could be there to help you move your small stash of stuff. Love...Judy

    1. Thanks, Judy ... the kitchen is lovely ... actually the whole place is like new. And, now that I have an actual bed for someone to sleep in, you can come visit any time ... winter wouldn't be your first choice. ;-) hugs ... j

  2. It’s beautiful. And I love the flowers and plant to make the perfect picture. Good job. Now head for the treadmill ��.

  3. Thanks. What a tyrant you are! Don't actually move in until next week so will muddle along with my wogging until then.

  4. This transition is perfectly aligned with the recommendations I read in The Art of Dying Well. At this age/stage, neighbors and community are critical. Your home looks lovely and sounds conducive to writing and the creation of art. I look forward to enjoying both!

    1. Thanks,Beck and for the review of "The Art of Dying Well" ... an important work.

  5. This is so wonderful for you Joyce! And yes the Joy Lane is perfect �� really happy for you !