Spoiler alert: I don’t actually have a new house out in Newalla.

Though, about two years ago, Chris and I were actually thinking about buying a house out there. Newalla isn’t exactly the type of place two city kids daydream about. And neither of us particularly liked the idea of living so far away from our jobs. Even so, the house we found was adorable, affordable, and it would’ve been a lot of fun to give people directions to our home and let them know that it was right off of Triple X Road.

Though, to be fair, we didn’t imagine that we would give many people directions to this house. It was going to be our space where we could hunker down and never leave. We would sit there all day long and make art and just be together. It was the dream.

We didn’t buy that house, even though it was on 5 acres and had an awesome workshop that Chris could’ve used for his business. I don’t really remember the address, and since it sold, I feel weird posting it on my blog, lest the current owners stumble upon this page and see some weirdo fetishizing their home. So, instead I’ll describe the thought process that went into wanting this home.

Firstly, we want out of the house we’re in. Or, we did more so then than now. Now, we’re kind of resigned to this fixer upper that neither of us have the energy to fix up. We’ve started a million renovation projects though. And maybe someday they’ll even be finished. Until then, we are coming up on year 6 with a hole where the fireplace ought to be.

Secondly, we like the idea of having a bunch of land, but not enough to actually purchase it. The 3-bedroom house sat on 5 acres, and only cost $135,000. (We probably should’ve bought it, but then we’d have a house in Newalla. Which we totally don’t, regardless of what this post title says.) I liked to think about Rosie running around those acres and getting to stretch her doggy legs. (Never mind the fact that her doggy legs generally can’t be bothered to stretch themselves across the backyard we have that is about a quarter of an acre.) I imagined we’d have to keep a .22 by the backdoor, just to shoot at rabid raccoons and maybe at really big spiders. It’s the country, after all.

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But we didn’t buy the house. It looked weird, not in a bad way, but in a way that wasn’t us. And let’s be real. I’m from Edmond, Oklahoma. I cannot do Newalla. (No offense, Newalla. You have a lot to offer. But you’re really not good for my personal brand.) But here I am, two years later blogging about a house that we just kind of looked at on the internet.

On the way home from OKWB Mini-Con, my friend Mari and I were talking. She mentioned that she loves living out in the boonies now, because she gets to stay home. It’s her space, and it’s not like she can just hop in the car and trek across town real quick. Her new house is far enough away that it’s not really convenient for her to just drop everything and be social.

Alarms went off in my head.

I told Mari about our Newalla house. I told her how we watched it online and seriously considered it. I told her that I wish we would’ve bought it so I could have a reason to stay at home and work or spend time with Chris and Rosie.

Then, while keeping her eyes on the road as we made our way west on I-40, she kind of laughed and said, “So, you want an excuse to stay home, even though you already can?”

(Mari is a wise woman, and was super down to get Buffalo Wild Wings in Muskogee. I suggest everyone get a Mari in their life, if just so she can drop knowledge like her statement above and encourage you to eat fried cheese post-blog conference.)

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After she said that, it became obvious that I felt like I needed an excuse to stay home and work on writing. The fact that I’ve been dedicated to it as a career since the second grade wasn’t enough. The fact that I would prefer to do it over generally going out didn’t matter. Deep down in my people pleasing soul, I thought I had to have an excuse to not attend social functions. I thought I needed distance in the form of the miles that separate east Cleveland County from the civilized world.

So, for now, I’m building a Craftsman-style home in the Newalla of my soul. It’s nothing like the weird, pyramidal A-frame house in Newalla we looked at, though it does have the same old school wood burning oven thingy in the living room, just for funsies. It’s got dusky gray paint on all the walls, and it’s full of brown leather club chairs for reading, as well as cabinets stocked up with Waterman ink for my pens. Chris and Rosie are there too, for when I need to binge watch Indiana Jones movies to fill the inspiration well, or for when I need to sip red wine and talk about nonsense.

Retrospectively, I realize that living out in Newalla wouldn’t give me the sort of laser-focus I want. I would still be distracted. As long as I have a cell phone or Twitter or Netflix, there will always be distractions. But that isn’t always a bad thing. I can only produce so many quality words in a day, and then I generally hit a point where everything I write is pure nonsense. So I have to stop. That’s when a I need to be distracted by a local Twitter feud that has fun amok all over my feed, or when I need to sit down and watch seasons one and two of Peaky Blinders for the seventh time. (I’m not kidding. I’ve watched through that show six times already.)

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But what I need to watch out for is the distractions that are disguised by good intentions. It’s all well and good to go out for drinks with friends, and it’s something that I generally say yes to without actually thinking about it. After all, who doesn’t want to catch up with people they love and haven’t seen in a while? But generally, I will do that, and then realize that I’ve got 16 nights out planned for one month, and that doesn’t even take into account all the spur-of-the-moment outings that crop up. I’m not saying I’m insanely popular. I just know a lot of people from the various seasons of my life. This is what happens when you’ve been through three degree programs and switch jobs almost every year. You get to know a lot of people.

So while I like to go out with people, I don’t think I would have 16 nights out planned if I had a house out in Newalla. That’s why I’m building a house in the Newalla of my soul — so it’s easier to say no to dinner and drinks.

I worry a lot about hitting the publish button on this post. Again, I’m a people pleaser through and through, so the idea of prioritizing me over others makes my skin crawl. And it’s not that I dislike any of my friends. It’s more that I just need to focus. Every hour away from my new house out in Newalla is an hour that gets taken away from writing. And if I’m being honest, I wasted too many hours in my twenties. I have to make up for it now.

13 Responses

  1. I feel like your ending of “I wasted too many hours in my twenties” ties in perfectly with my main frustration when I turned 30 last spring. Said frustration was when I’d have to give out my age somewhere, and all the post-45 people would be like “Aww, you’re still a BABY, don’t fret!”

    And I would just sit there and be like “You have no idea of a) the crap I’ve lived through the first 30 years of my life, and b) HOLY COW THEY’VE GONE FAST. I know I still have most of my life yet, but there are still some things I would like to accomplish in the next decade.”

    I’ve unofficially committed my 30s to living MY life. Learning to say no, especially to social over-commitment, and time-wasting. Though I’m doing SO STELLAR at that last one right this moment. I should be tackling the pile of dishes I’ve ignored for two days.

    All that to really say that there’s definitely a line that has to be drawn when it comes to living and making the lives we want for ourselves, vs living the lives other people think we should have. The first one definitely takes more stubbornness. Maybe we’ll both figure it out this decade?

    1. Amen to committing your 30s to living your life! (And don’t worry about wasting time. I should be grading papers right now, but I’m watching YouTube videos on how to do the perfect smokey eyeshadow.)

      And I once had a professor who said when you hit your 30s, life becomes clearer, you figure out your priorities, and you feel more sane as you try to achieve them. So, here’s to hoping to figuring it all out this decade!

  2. I don’t why this post made me a bit weepy, but it did.
    As the genius Katt Williams says, you’ve got to look out
    for your “star player”: that’s YOU. Kudos to you for getting
    a handle on how to take care of you and your art.
    Do you boo boo!

  3. I love this post and not just because you made me your Yoda. It’s important to have a room of your own in the Newalla of your soul, and I will eat too much cheese and talk about things big and small with you any day of the week except for those days that you are respecting your need to write good words.

  4. Yes! Yes! YES!! Love your thoughts — love your Newalla — want to live there, too … er…maybe next door…so as not to be creepy…
    I live in the sticks, way out in the Out There, and I gotta tell you, if another Newalla crops up and your soul tends to lean toward it, go! Living in the country is the best: stars, coyotes, the option for peeing outside, all available to you and yours at any time of the day!
    (And funny, after the OKWBminicon, my friend Jenn and I stopped for fried pickles. something about the weather that day screamed for )

    1. That is all the blessing I need to start looking for a house out in the country again! (And I’m a firm believer that all days scream for fried pickles.)

  5. I’m so torn between wanting to be off on my own and surrounded by my best friends. I’ve found that if you are going to give your time to others then be picky about who you give it to. Don’t give your time away willy-nilly and sit through dinner wishing you were somewhere else. There’s no shame in being stingy w/ your time. Only give it away to people who feed your soul.
    And yes, Mari is the best.

  6. I enjoyed reading this post so much because I identified with it so much.

    My husband and I have looked at hundreds of properties within driving distance of the OKC metro, and while I would be the one who says “yes” it’s his struggle that keeps us in Edmond. He’s not ready to be more than 30 minutes from golf courses – ha.

    I think my house, after we retire, is in the Broken Bow or Talihina of my soul. But – just anywhere with space and quiet sounds perfect. I love being a professor because we’re charged to write as part of our jobs. But, we’re charged to write research, which isn’t necessarily all I want to do. Keep building that house, Marisa…KMR

    1. Isn’t it weird how research is simultaneously stimulating, yet soul-sucking? It’s not bad, per se, but it’s definitely not the sort of thing that gets me excited.

      I love that your soul house is in Broken Bow or Talihina. Those places are so beautiful. And I feel your husband’s pain…I’m not ready to be more than 30 minutes away from a grocery store with a cheese counter.

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