October 18, 2021

Moving Plans Cancelled


“You can’t call it a drought anymore, because it’s going over to a drier climate. No one says the Sahara is in drought.” –Richard Seager, scientist

What a dangerous business it can be to go out the front door in the early morn especially if the voice on the telephone just told you, you don’t live there, you live elsewhere. The door is no longer yours. Down through the decades, it’s sometimes harder than getting the truth from a politician to dream up bits and pieces for another column for this free, yet wretched, sheet–this penny dreadful of world renown. For this issue, however, I was the material, thanks to a series of bureaucratic bewilderments in two states, in Flagstaff, in Alabama and in the gilded halls of City Hall.

Soon the phone was ringing again. Why not answer it, maybe someone has figured out what’s happening. Happily, it was a trusted insurance agent in Cottonwood. Call her Cindy, though she doesn’t wish to be quoted by name; anyway, her real name is Sam. She had news, but the news still left me as confused as a bastard on Father’s Day.

Duh! Her news was that I was in trouble. For decades, my mail has arrived to my house in a mail box painted with my lot number, which is the address Sam used to insure me at the mortgage company in Arizona, then Alabama. Yes, Alabama. That’s where they spit at the beetles at lunch hour, and in the dark of night some beetle expert decided that I didn’t live where I have lived and therefore unless I moved to the correct address—the one they dredged up from the county records–my days with a mortgage should be counted in hours, not in years.

Back in Sedona’s early days, before residential neighborhoods were not speedways, residents were fairly casual about the addresses they pasted on their mail boxes.

Conversations went this away, “Hey Clem, where’d you get them numbers on your mail box?”

“Don’t know, Ike–think it was my first wife’s weight.”

Back in those days, too, mortgages stayed with your local bank. Today, before the ink is dry on a new mortgage, it’s been sold two or three times to banks east of the Mississippi River, repackaged with a new ribbon around it. What’s more, several un-mindful local bankers failed to connect the dots between the address on the new mortgage and the address on the insurance policy. Ergo, the fat’s in the fire.

What to do? First thing is to think about packing. If the house where I have lived for years won’t be insured in three days since the mortgage company in Alabama says I don’t live there, perhaps I’d better pack, and let the javelinas and the skunks have the place. Nightly, they’re on the porch anyway.

Wait a minute. Am I going to allow a bunch of Alabama freckle-bellies to wreck my life, and make me move to a yurt somewhere in Cornville? Not on your tintype. So, I looked up my tax bill from the county in which I live, but may not much longer. Oops! Right out of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the tax bill gives my address as a post office box. So that’s why sleeping has not been coming easily of late, my kids don’t come to visit and no lady visitor stays long.

Moving right along, I sought hope at city hall. Now, some say that hope, like withered leaves, fall fast (Longfellow). Not so, because I discovered Victor, the expert, who looked me up in his files and discovered that I lived in a Post Office Box. After some whining and sniveling on my part, Victor agreed to come to my house to solve the mystery. Fortunately, he carried a map with him. Up and down my street he walked, a confused look on his face once he noted that the mail box numbers fail to flow in sequence.

Finally, I interrupted his wanderings by suggesting that I was willing to surrender and change my address to the one the county came up with years ago. His forehead took on some deep furrows. He told me that I couldn’t because that address, according to his records, was already taken by a vacant lot nearby. At this point in the day, I was ready for a bath and a shower at the Pink Nectar Café’s new wing, The Old Wrenwood and Rehab center.

Just then, a noted publisher walked up, curious as to the events unfolding. “That’s my vacant lot,” he stated. “And the number is xxx, and it faces north.”

A smile crossed Victor’s face. “OK, you can have the number for your mail box that the county says you already have. But you will have to go the post office and fill out a change of address form.”

All the while Sam a/k/a Cindy is waiting for word. Victor got the word to her and she called me, “Unpack pilgrim, you ain’t going nowhere.”


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