Mah Birfday Party! Also, I Think It’s Time To Come Clean About My Living Situation …

January 25th, 2015 - filed under: Furthermore » Inspiration

mah birfday los nidos

Standing in the fence hole. The hole is everything!

You guys, I had a birthday party. Like, for the first time in YEARS! And it was small and sweet and perfect and oh gosh – I felt so loved!

And I really needed that.

A few pics from the festivities:

mah birfday skateboarding

Starting the party off right, with skateboarding shenanigans. I’m *really* excited for lots of skating together this year. (And FYI, super sparkly sequin dress is by Betsey Johnson – secondhand of course)

mah birfday Haley portrait
My dearest Gretchen painted me a portrait of the Harley-dog! IT IS AMAZING (and also matched my ensemble). I am the luckiest. ♥ (and she is available for commission, just sayin’)

mah birfday shenanigans

mah birfday Waits kisses
“Waitsy, take a picture with me!” “Okay mama. I kiss you! I kiss you on the arm, right here!”

mah birfday with Waits
He is my heart. My heart living outside of my body.

mah birfday song
Oh goodness …

mah birfday Waitsy
Cupcake kid! (ahem, cupcake Darth Vader)

mah birfday cupcakes
A brand new gluten-free bakery just opened in Santa Barbara. Our first one! And Jeremy called them that morning, and asked, “Do you have anything that’s vegan?” And whattaya know? They had 2 flavors of cupcakes: carrot cake, and red velvet. GUYS! My 2 favorite flavors EVER! ♥ Birfday serendipity. ♥

So now. Okay, bear with me here. Let me tell you a story about a fence.


In September of 2013, Jeremy and I were deep in the process of falling in love. An awesome process, to be sure. And we had been long-distance up until then – him living in Redondo Beach, about an hour and a half south of me, in LA. But by September, we were in deep, and he was planning a move to Santa Barbara.

My own house in Santa Barbara? Is a gem. A gem by Santa Barbara standards, which means that it’s old, and neglected, and dilapitaded . . . and CHEAP. Built in 1915, my little beach bungalow boasts 2 whole bedrooms and an entire full-sized fenced yard, in downtown Santa Barbara. And it’s affordable.

This, my friends, is a TREASURE. A unicorn. By Santa Barbara standards, a dream come true.

And in September of 2013, my next door neighbor – occupant of the identical, matching mirror-image bungalow to mine – let me know that he would be moving out at the end of the month. And maybe I wanted to find a friend to move in next door?


Back when I was drowning in the depths of my divorce, I read a lot about one of my greatest heroes, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Completely independent, always authentic, incredibly sensitive and incomprehensibly strong, fierce female badass, Frida Kahlo. And I read that she and her husband, renowned muralist Diego Rivera, had decided to build themselves a pair of houses. Two separate houses, side by side. With a sky bridge to connect them.

And I remember thinking, YES!

That is right. That makes sense. That is what I want!


And so, in September of 2013, I asked Jeremy – “Would you like to move into the house next door?”

And him, progressive-minded man that he is, he understood immediately the amazing opportunity that had presented itself.

It was perfect.

Just so absolutely perfect.

mah birfday hole in fence

And so Jeremy moved into the house next door. And we tore a hole in the backyard fence, and made our bridge. The bridge between two houses.

And now we have, essentially, our own little compound. “The downtown bohemian compound”, as we sometimes call it. And we named it Los Nidos – “the nests”.

Mostly, we both move freely between the two houses. Now we have one giant yard, plenty of room for gardening, fruit trees, a fire pit, play space for Waits, and we hope, some day, a hot tub. We have 2 kitchens, 2 bathrooms, 2 living spaces. Mirror image homes that are so similar, and yet so different. The dining table is at my house; the TV is at his. I like his bed better, and his bedroom is much bigger than mine. But I totally prefer my kitchen. And we decorate very differently!

We hang out together when we want, and we also take space when we need to. It is so amazing to be able to take space.

And living this way is the best thing I can possibly imagine, just the very best. We have the best of all worlds, and Jeremy and I will continue to live like this, together, separately, side-by-side, in our little downtown compound, for as long as we possibly can.

Los Nidos Forever!

Here’s a shot from the other side, standing in “my” yard and looking through to Jeremy’s house. The teak table is in my yard, with the fence hole behind me, his house beyond, and the fire pit around the fence to the left. On my side of the fence, to the right there, you can see some familiar sights: my roses, my artichoke plant, and just at the edge of the frame, Waits’s play house with the orange tree overhanging.

mah birfday with Harley

So now you know. Now you know our unconventional living situation.

Hey, I never claimed I was a normal girl! But I love my weird little life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You only get one shot, right? So make sure that you love your life, and live it on your own terms.

Cheers to another trip around the sun!

♥ ♥ ♥

  • WookieWifey

    Skateboarding in a sequin designer dress. Like a motherfucking BOSS.

    Oh, and happy birthday! :)

  • Katherine

    It’s so important to live life on your own terms — and it’s taken me quite a while to get to that point. But sharing the living situation you’ve created with Los Nidos just reminds me that what may be unconventional for some, may just be the right kind of progressive for others! My partner and I frequently live in different cities as we pursue what is calling to us in life. And when we do live together, we maintain separate bedrooms and living spaces. It works for us. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sally

    Do you receive any government assistance, health insurance, etc. and/or financial aid based upon reporting a household of just you and your child?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Well gee Sally, why do you ask?

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  • Sally

    This article was shared by someone on Facebook, pointing to the concept of a couple having two apartments. I read it out of curiosity, along with skimming some of your blog. I ask because you are presenting your living situation publicly, one that is effectively a household of 3 (and would so be considered by the Department of Social Services). In other parts of your blog you comment on struggling financially and going to school. I wonder what your moral standpoint on accepting aid in this living arrangement is.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    There is absolutely no moral issue here, and I disagree with your assertion regarding the opinion of the Department of Social Services. (But thanks for bringing them up – that’s something every mother wants to hear!)

    My boyfriend and I live in 2 separate houses. We signed 2 separate leases, and pay 2 separate rents, and are responsible for 2 separate sets of bills. I reside in a two bedroom house which is solely occupied by my son and I. The fact that we cut a hole in our backyard fence is neither here nor there.

    I do not receive any government assistance, but even if I did, again there would simply be no issue here. We are, financially speaking, two separate households. This is not “effectively a household of 3″, like it would be if I just moved my boyfriend in and didn’t tell anyone. No, this is comparable to having a boyfriend who lives across town, who spends the night at my house (or mine at his) 3-4 nights per week. The only difference is the distance.

    Again, financially speaking we are separate. In fact, that’s the sole criticism we get regarding our living situation: that it’s much more costly than simply moving in together. Which is totally true.

    So if you want to criticize me, just accuse me of being wasteful or self-indulgent or financially irresponsible or something. Because this weird concern-trolling about some imaginary moral quandary and how it relates to my nonexistent government assistance? It just doesn’t hold any water.

    Sorry. Nope.

  • B M

    Every time I come here, I am just so happy. You inspire me in every way possible. Just sayin.

    Much love and happy belated b-day!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh thank you BM, I love hearing that! Cheers, and happy weekend to you!!

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