Temporarily Homeless, Part 3: Plymouth

Temporarily Homeless, Part 3: Plymouth


The insurance adjustor says they’ll pay for us to stay in a residential hotel, two one-bedroom suites. We argue… seven people in four rooms for a month or more… sounds like hell. We make a counter-offer, combing Vrbo and AirB&B to find a rental that has more space and is cheaper than the hotel. We find a few candidates and send them in. We settle on one in Plymouth, near the beach (all such short-term rentals in Massachusetts are near the beach, it seems.) Amazingly, insurance agrees to reimburse us for a rental house.

First dinner in the rental house: tacos!
Sophie and I play scrabble.

So after our short Cape Cod vacation we decamp to Plymouth. We can see a snippet of the ocean from the living room window, just over the roofs of some houses and between some trees, a bit more ocean from the upstairs windows.

We can walk to the beach. We explore the local public library, a very small branch. We find a stream that flows into the sea nearby that’s fun to wade and swim in.

Playing in the stream.
Dom watches the kids while I paint.
Wading in the stream.
The stream running into Cape Cod Bay.

We find a kite in the basement and take it to the beach and flew it– I don’t think the kids have ever flown a kite before.

Flying a kite on the beach.
Flying a kite.
Sophie and the kite.
The best way to fly a kite is to run.

We find a little marsh. We watch birds. We classify the different kinds of houses near the beach.

Beach houses.

We can hear the ocean from the living room windows when the night is quiet and the wind is just right. We find a stronge object on the beach and learn it is a whelk’s egg-case. We find sea glass. We discuss the difference between organic and inorganic, natural and man-made objects that we find on the beach. Sophie proposes drawing a Venn diagram. Anthony tweaks my drawing.

Classifying found objects.
Whelk egg-casing.
Bella’s collection: spot the tiny green crab.

We learn something about the history of the area. The kids buy some Lego kits at the store with their own money and build them. They miss their toys, packed away. They miss home. They miss the things they didn’t bring because they didn’t realize how long we’d be gone. They’re tired of wandering. They miss home. But they are trying to make the best of this vacation and to enjoy things as they come. Even if sometimes we must take a moment to mourn what we don’t have.

Some friends set up a Go Fund Me. Insurance will cover the replacement of floors and repainting. They won’t cover the plumbing. They’ll cover the storage pod and some of the meals we had to eat out. It looks like we will be homeless for at least a month. (I’m skeptical that it will be only a month. The plumber has covid and hasn’t even started the work. Now he’s not returning our phone calls at all. We are trying to find a new plumber. After three weeks no work has been done at all. Trying to find another plumber… not going well.) The contractor can only do so much until the plumbing issues are resolved.

The kids wonder what we will do for Halloween. The dress up clothes are packed in the pod. Where will we be living at the end of October? We have no idea, but it’s probably here in Plymouth.

I’ve packed up our homeschooling books and brought them with us, but we are far from being able to slip back into a routine. We made a feeble effort at some school work on the rainy days we had at the Cape, but no one’s heart was in it.

Lucy on White Horse Beach.

Right now we are enjoying our surreal unplanned vacation. The only one doing any real school work is Isabella who is taking an online chemistry class that can’t be put off.

Bella studying.

Of course laundry and cooking and doing the dishes and caring for people goes on. Vacation for mom is just the same tasks in a different place.

But the houses we’ve been staying in on our sojourn are clean and uncluttered. Airy. And bigger than our house. I try not to spend too much time imagining we could stay for good, that this could be our permanent home. Meanwhile, I’m so very grateful to be able to have a nice place to be, a vacation, time on the beach, even if my feet hurt and my hips don’t like me walking on sand or climbing stairs.

I’m finally finding the mental space to write, the time to sit and put words together in order. Not beautiful, but necessary words. And maybe I can get back to seeking beauty in writing soon. i’m looking forward to finding some time now to sit and breathe and create.

I take my sketchbook and watercolor set to the beach and paint a picture while Dom watches the kids swimming. I draw the whelk egg-casing. I wish I could sit and draw and write all day, but laundry and cooking and shopping and tending kids must happen no matter where we are. Not as much of a vacation for me as I could wish. But there are moments stolen and precious that I cherish nonetheless.

Watercolor sketch
The waves are purple–wine-dark– with red seaweed.
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  • I’m praying for you, and glad you are finding time for writing (and painting! Gorgeous – I have been trying to draw or paint more on our vacations, but as you say, same jobs for mom in different surroundings). (I admit to a bit of misplaced jealousy about your Cape “vacation” – we tried to take a VRBO-house vacation on the beach near my family in Aug, and instead we ended up slammed by a non-COVID cold that kept some of us from enjoying the house or area much, kept us away from my family, and then sent us all straight home again to complete our negative-test-symptom-quarantine in our own space. Gah!)

    I’m so glad your family worked it out with insurance to cover a more live-able place to be. We (with 6 kids, 1-14yo) did 2x 2bedrm suites when we moved for work, for over a month, and It. Was. Awful. The staff were really sweet, but some of the neighbors, not so much. And the general set-up was so on top of each other, even with only 2 people per bedroom and 4 whole bathrooms… and at root it was not supportive of children’s need to occasionally be loud and active.

    Good luck with the plumber (bummer situation there!) and all the other bits that have to come together to get you home again. I will continue to pray…and to read when you write ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you so much for the prayers. I really believe that the main reason this horrible disaster has turned into a vacation with pleasant memories is because of all the prayers smoothing our way. I’m more grateful than words can say because I know we don’t deserve to be so lucky.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your vacation ruined by sickness– that’s the worst.