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OK, I give up. I surrender, I confess, I admit it: I cannot afford my home anymore. By my home I mean both my house and the crazy city that I love, where I've lived for the past 20 years — longer than I've lived anywhere else, nearly half of my life.

I went "back home" to North Carolina last week, to attend my 30th high school reunion (!) and spend a week with my parents. I ended up using a lot of that time looking for a place to move my remaining family, the three dogs and three cats.

And I found something, a tiny little house in a great, big fenced yard. The rent is just over half of what I'm now struggling to pay for my mortgage.

For years I'd been scrambling for work, and just getting by, with the inconsistent assistance of Ed. It occurred to me, as I gazed at the satellite image of Hurricane Ike covering the entire Gulf of Mexico, that homeowners insurance — already prohibitively expensive - will never get any cheaper in Florida.  

My beautiful house, the cherished fulfillment of a long-held dream, needs work that I can't afford. Relatively speaking, it's a wealthy person's home. 

Relatively speaking, I am not a wealthy person.

Also, my parents also are not getting any younger. I'll feel better being closer to them — though I will decline, at least for now, their generous offer to let me live in their basement for a modest rent. I would not feel better being that close.

Speaking of which, I'm not opposed to putting several hundred miles between myself and my soon-to-be-ex-husband.

I don't want to move, I don't want to leave, but I can't afford this life any more.

I give up. That much is certain. Now all I have to do is work out the details.

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