This morning my Handsome Chef Boyfriend gave me a smooch on his way out the door back to his own stomping grounds, just a bit further afield than I would like. Be careful, I said; let me know when you’re there safe.
Do you ever stop worrying about things, he chided?
No. Never. I never, ever stop worrying. This is the truth.
It has been just about eighteen months to the day since my mid-century reboot. My big adventure, if you will: my brave solo flight a thousand miles from the city I called home for three decades, in a part of the world where my ancestors had arrived a century earlier. A tap root that size does not come up without at least a little equivocation.
I did not throw caution to the wind when I decided to leave. A year and a half ago I had ideas and plans wrought carefully, painstakingly, from the knowledge I possessed of practical things. I knew how much I would earn, more or less, in my new job, which was the thing that brought me to New England of necessity; ditto my expenses. (Or so I thought at the time.) I anticipated support that would come to me as a consequence of the document my ex and I had only recently signed, the ink still wet on the page. I had a new (used) car with a payment a fraction of what the car I traded for it had cost, that I hoped would see me through whatever New England’s winters dealt me. And I had my ever-faithful shepherd Clarence by my side—no small thing.
I did not anticipate that there would ultimately be no support. Nor that my expenses would far exceed my expectations. Nor that my time with Clarence was about to end. Nor that I would go more than a year without seeing my son, with no promise to see him again anytime soon. Nor that the walls around him would appear poised to crumble (maybe soon), while he stumbles into new adult shoes, at the mercy of an erstwhile role model.
I cried with little provocation when I got here. Standing in line at the grocery store (I am sure people thought I was a nutcase, but I really do not care—a benefit of advancing age). Idling at the bottom of the Interstate ramp. Driving home from ballet school in winter’s very early darkness and brutal cold, and sometimes worse. Sitting at my desk in front of one of two big picture windows (which would prove incredibly expensive) watching weather roll across the ridge over the beautiful lake towards my tiny rental. In my dark bedroom in the middle of the night, thinking of the still-teenage son I left to make his way in the world on his dad’s watch back home, a thousand miles away. I cried, I buried my face in my dog’s furry ribs, and I chewed my nails. I left a life of misery and noise, replaced by one whose bitter silence is sometimes as deafening.
The life I have found here resembles only vaguely the one I thought I would find. Things have gotten better. And worse. And better. And worse….
A while ago I decided it was time to step out from under the wearying cloud that seemed to follow me everywhere, come what may. There was a freedom that came with that, and it lifted my spirits palpably.
This winter has been rough. In my worst moments I have felt I could not take another single instant of close calls on badly maintained icy steps and pavement and driveways, of arriving home to a frigid, dark house, of yet another plow bill, and another, and another… And the untimely loss of my companion animal seemed a cruel joke of nature, as have been the wicked winter storms, one after another. And another. And another. I have tried to keep the faith in my decision to come here, to choose these woods to walk in, and I am still trying. It is hard work. Even seasoned locals seem grumpy and anxious to wash their hands of this abominable winter.
Still, sitting on the sofa last night snuggled next to my favorite person in the world, batting at an obnoxious fly in the room—a harbinger of a new season, perhaps—everything felt fine. Nothing had changed. And everything had changed.
If I could wear this message tastefully on a sandwich board I would do it: I am not this person. I swore when my marriage ended I would not be one of those bitter divorcées who thinks all men are horrible, and I believe I have done an admirable job there. But I am also not the person who forever gripes about the eternal grey winter, the economy, religion, politics, the problems of the day.
I am far more interested in beauty. And I am still trying—while I worry like crazy—to arrive there.