Jennifer Danny | When a House Becomes a Shell

Jennifer Danny
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Hello friends of the Santa Clarita Valley, and greetings from Texas. Yes, you read that correctly, I have relocated to Texas. Not for the reasons that are always tossed around on the internet, and not for the desire for a more stable political environment. I’ve moved because our daughter and her family had moved there over a year ago, and our son relocated there as well.  

My husband is a native Californian, born in Santa Maria. And I have lived in Southern California since the age of 11. We met in high school, dated, went to college, dated others, and always found a way back to each other. We eventually married, and moved to the beautiful SCV, started our family, and lived in our house for 33 years.  

My house was the place where everyone in the family would congregate. It was the “hub,” so to say. Every weekend it was filled with a visiting family member and, as our kids grew up, all the cousins would be at our house. 

About four and a quarter years ago, our granddaughter was born, and we were quite lucky to be only a few miles from our daughter and son-in-law’s home. We were overjoyed when our son came home from college and was accepted into the master’s program at California Institute of the Arts and even through the insanity of COVID-19 we were able to see everyone, albeit wearing a mask at times, but we all got through it.  

About a year and a half ago, our daughter and son-in-law started to look at relocating to Texas. And, by July of last year, they had new jobs, and had bought a house for basically half of what some of the 50-year-old houses in SCV were selling for. 

And with that they started on their new journey with our granddaughter and our grand-dog, a mini-Australian labradoodle, in tow.  

Before it was official and they were in the “still looking” phase of relocating, I would ask the man above to please guide them to make the decision that was best for them. I didn’t ask Him to keep them nearby, as I would never stand in the way of someone’s life, even if it meant I wouldn’t be able to see them as often as I did. And trust me, as much as Mother Hen Jen wants all her little chicks in her house or nearby, I had to once again “Let the Bird Fly.” And in this case, I had to “Let the Birds and a Dog Fly.” 

When our son went to college in another state, I kept this quote on our dining room table: “The shell must break before the bird can fly.” It is by Alfred Lord Tennyson, and I would look at it and know that “all was well” and would continue to be. Our daughter went to USC, so I could get there in less than an hour, and that was comforting, but when someone is out of state, as our son was for college and now our family who had relocated, it takes a bit of planning to get there. 

There is irony in life that one doesn’t see until it’s brought up, and sometimes it is something you realize after the fact. Hold that thought. 

Over the past year I visited my family in Texas each month. I was able to do my job remotely and be able to find the comfort of being with each of them, even if only for a few days. I was part of the December Southwest Airlines debacle and literally was stuck for 18 days. It was fine for me because I was with my family and, eventually, I was able to get home. 

Ah, “home,” such an interesting word. One might say “house,” which is simply a noun, but “home” has for me such a deeper meaning. My home was now empty. My husband and I maneuvered through the “new normal” and we both soon realized that the best decision for us was to relocate to Texas.  

Next came the packing. Yes, imagine 33 years in a house. Let me phrase that more definitively: Historian Jen, the oldest of four children and collector of all family things. And it gets better: When my mom passed away many more things came my way. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I have the memories of our family, but when you have to get them out of the attic and then tap dance and explain to your husband why we have so much stuff, well … I’ll let you ponder that scenario for a while.  

We ordered a POD and stored what was most of our lives in there. The POD was nearly full. You know the scene in “Jaws” when Roy Scheider says: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat”? 

For me it was: “We’re gonna need a bigger POD.” In the end it all worked out, after a few months of packing and getting the house ready to sell, which also meant taking all your personal items out so that the potential buyers could have a visual of what their things would look like in the house. Whaaat? You mean I cannot have “all things Jen” visible for everyone to see? Apparently not. 

The house sold quickly, and we made our move to Texas in late August. For those of you who don’t know, I am the collections manager for Landscape Development Inc. I’ve been a part of the LDI family for over 10 years. I was given the “green light” to be able to work remotely and to say that I am grateful for that would be an understatement. Thank you to Gary, Jenny, Mark and Tim, who allowed me the opportunity to continue my job. Thank you for believing in me always, and I will continue to make all of you proud. 

Thank you to The Signal and Tim Whyte for letting me be an SCV Voice. I am honored that I was given the opportunity. 

Ah, so I’ll end this article with this little anecdotal story: Remember I wrote “hold that thought,” and the irony in life that I didn’t see is about “letting the bird” fly? My dad always said, “Jen, let the bird fly” when my children were in college and that is why on my dining room table, the quote by Alfred Lord Tennyson was framed. “The shell must break before the bird can fly.” 

Ah, the word “shell” has so many interesting ways to look at it. It can be considered a form of protection for many things, too numerous to mention here. My house became a “shell” because my family was no longer nearby. So, for me and for my husband our best choice was to step out of our “shell” that had been our home for a long time and spread our wings and fly where our now-grown-up birds and our granddaughter and Doodle were.  

Thank you to those who took the time to read my articles and may all of you continue to soar! 

Jennifer Danny is a former Santa Clarita resident.

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