As I begin to write this there are ten days left to go in my very first house sitting adventure. Looking back on the day I answered the ad I would have never imagined what a life-changing and fulfilling experience it would turn out to be.
WHERE I AM
If you have been following my posts over the past two months you’re aware I am housesitting in Joshua Tree California, a tiny desert town approximately two hours inland from Los Angeles. The house is a 500 square foot artist’s retreat (no internet, no phone, no TV) set on 5-acres and is surrounded by a lovely array of plants and trees, many of which I tend to as part of the housesitting agreement (as well as one cute and lovable cat).
Downtown Joshua Tree is six miles away and has most of the necessary conveniences, but otherwise all there is to see for miles and miles is vast desert speckled with exotic Joshua trees from which the town gets its name, a bright blue and cloudless sky, and a purple mountain range on the horizon. At night the moon shines bright and the stars are limitless.
Upon closer inspection the home has many visitors, from the countless doves, quail, hummingbirds, and bunnies, to snakes, lizards, scorpions, and ants, the latter an interesting time-pass spent in observation. As evening falls one can be sure to hear the thin howling of coyotes in pursuit of its prey.
View from the house sit.
Below, the towns of Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree from a mountaintop in Black Rock Canyon.
A uniquely shaped Joshua Tree.
We share the home with many interesting animals!
HOW I FOUND IT
I came across the home when it was listed on housecarers.com, a housesitting site I had purchased a yearly membership for $50. I assumed house sitting would be a great way to spend the interims between musical gigs and feed my insatiable desire for travel and novelty.
The house sit was to be for two months and would come to an end around the same time a new musical endeavor would begin. I invited my long time friend and future duo partner along believing the home would provide the perfect environment for us to work on our music together as well as our own projects independently; he composing and me photography and writing – and as it turned out voracious reading – as the homeowner has an eclectic library of books that I devoured.
Before the musical opportunity arose I had planned on house sitting alone, but I’m so glad I was able to share the experience with a good friend. Together we explored all the nearby towns and exhausted as much of Joshua Tree National Park as we could. We took road trips to the city for live music and to the ocean when we ached for relief from the desert heat, we shared home cooked meals and long talks under the night sky, sipped coffee under the vine-covered veranda as crisp mornings slipped into sweltering afternoons, and of course, shared our love of music with days and nights spent recording, listening, and practicing. He was a comfort and a companion that made the experience better all around.
Sunset in Joshua Tree National Park
While this type of house sit may not be for everyone, (many people ask me in awe when I tell them we are in the middle of nowhere without the usual conveniences, “what do you do there?”), I do believe everyone could benefit from it. We had the chance to strip down our lives, to live like children on summer vacation with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and all the time in the world to create and explore. We were surrounded by endless nature and seclusion and time to concentrate on creative endeavors and internal work. Life without those everyday “conveniences” is simplified, suddenly you begin to notice the world around you and at your feet, and you quickly rediscover the forgotten joy of simply spending time with someone while the hours on the clock whittle away unheeded.
Each day I think to pinch myself as I must be dreaming – but then I quickly am reminded how life is but a dream, if one allows it to be, if one goes in search of their dreams, if one believes anything is possible, and if one can take the good with the bad and have the confidence it’s leading them somewhere. Somehow all this time, nature, solitude, and space has made me a stronger, more capable woman, more determined than ever to live out my life the way I prefer it to be and not on anyone else’s principles. I’ve reconnected with my inner child, and while I always had the inkling, I now know for sure that living simply and on par with nature is the only way to go, the surest and quickest road to happiness, fulfillment, and contentment.
WHAT LED ME HERE
A couple of months before finding the house sit I had had a breakdown, everything around me seemed to be falling apart. I quit my well paying job on a cruise line which many people thought foolish, and walked away from the person I loved because I felt intrinsically it was all wrong for me. Right before quitting I found a saying in a magazine article and copied it into my journal: Little miracles will begin to happen when you turn toward your right life. Eventually, your good luck will seem incredible.
I returned home and waited for the miracles. But simply walking away from the ship and positioning an ocean between my heartache didn’t instantly solve everything like I had hoped. The only moments of clarity and rejuvenation came when I put my foot on the gas pedal and headed west, into the unknown.
Freedom from the past comes from associating with unfamiliar objects; none of them possess any evocative power. – Anais Nin
House sitting for me was a lifesaver. It appeared at the perfect moment and turned out to be the perfect setting for the healing and growth I craved so badly. Eventually, your good luck will seem incredible… My good luck does seem incredible. This home, this desert, this peace, is incredible.
Gardens I tend at the house sit.
I’m going to leave you with a beautiful excerpt from Anais Nin’s journal written in the fall of 1951 that resonates with my experience so well. She has just finished describing her many discords with city life and goes on to poetically describe the “detoxicating cure” the slow moving Mexican town of Acapulco has on her. She describes it in words better than I ever could:
Here, all this is nonsense. You exist by your smile and your presence. You exist for your joys and your relaxations. You exist in nature. You are part of the glittering sea, and part of the luscious, well-nourished plants, you are wedded to the sun, you are immersed in timelessness, only the present counts, and from the present you extract all the essences which can nourish the senses, and so the nerves are still, the mind is quiet, the nights are lullabies, the days are like gentle ovens in which infinitely wise sculptor’s hands reform the lost contours, the lost sensations of the body. The body comes to life. Quests, pursuits of concrete securities of one kind or another lose all their importance. As you swim, you are washed of all the excrescences of so-called civilization, which includes the incapacity to be happy under any circumstances.
Today, as I finish this post with now only days left to go, the air outside has turned crisp as autumn settles into the high desert. It’s a wonderful, cleansing feeling, as autumn most often is. This is the time when many fruits and crops, having become fully ripened, are being gathered, and where the leaves on the trees are ablaze with colors and falling gently to the ground to make way for the new. I also feel like I have traversed a season of my life, have shed my past, and that I too have ripened to the fullest and am ready for the next season of my life; whatever, wherever, and with whomever that may be.