I like to write. That’s why I started this thing, almost three years ago now. I think it’s because writing is an introvert’s ultimate solution to having conversations. I can just sit here and write my side, and it doesn’t really matter that nobody is there on the other side of the screen that I have to keep worrying about entertaining. That’s up to you – to be entertained or not, that is – I’m not taking responsibility for that.
I just renewed my little slice of the interwebs here for another year, so I figured I’d better start making use of it again. Much has changed in my life since I started this thing – much good, some bad, some too private to go into. Things are not the way I had planned or hoped they would be right now, but I am learning to look at new opportunities rather than closed doors.
Therapy is helping with that – an idea I would have scorned as recently as a couple of months ago. I never believed that sitting and talking to someone would help me gain a new perspective or find some peace. I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong. There has been an awful lot of unresolved pain in my life, and I’m just now discovering that it’s OK to get outside help. It’s not weakness or failure to admit that you can’t always deal with things on your own. Sometimes a professional can help you wring some positive out of traumatic events and pull you out of your well of darkness.
So – let’s talk about the good. I managed to sell my house in Maine in one of the worst real estate markets in recent history. I didn’t exactly make a profit, but I didn’t lose my shirt, either. It didn’t sell because of luck, it sold because I made it beautiful. I built two kitchens, two bathrooms, rebuilt a deck, restructured the garage, painted anything that didn’t move, and turned it into one of the nicest homes in the area. Someone saw my handiwork in the listing photos and fell in love with it. I’m proud of that. I am proud of myself, and that is not something I would have said out loud before.
I did it all for personal reasons. Because I wanted to be somewhere else. Those things haven’t turned out as I had hoped, but that doesn’t diminish the work I did, and it shouldn’t diminish my pride in it. I’m not sure why it took a therapist to get me to see that, but I’m thankful that I can see it now. When you’re depressed – when you realize you’ve been depressed for a while – all the work seems like a huge waste of time. It wasn’t a waste of time because it made me stronger. Even if I can’t go where I had planned to go, I can still get out of here. I made an opportunity for myself.
Maine is a wonderful place to visit, but I don’t want to live here anymore. It seemed like an adventure when my job brought me here ten years ago – nature, wilderness, and a comfortable distance from New Jersey except in July and August when they’re all here. I thought it would be great for someone like me who isn’t all that into people.
It’s insular – almost incestuous in a way. If you’re ‘from away’ it can take years before the locals accept you and stop giving you the Maine Stink Eye™ in the street. It’s stifling, stagnant, and somehow repressive. If you feel like you want to do something, it takes so long to get there you give up before you start. The economy is in the tank, there is no growth, taxes are confiscatory, and the general attitude is dismal. I can’t ride my bike because the roads are awful and the drivers are only too happy to run you down. The weather is pretty much unbearable for half the year, and I have started to dread snow season. You may have seen some of the diatribes if you’ve read here long enough. In Maine I am Eeyore.
On October 25th, I signed the papers to close the deal on my house in Maine and moved to an apartment in the building where I work. It is comfortable and adequate, but it’s not home. I have sold my snowblowers, my plow truck, and my roof rakes. Thanks to the unwavering support of my sister and a good friend who happens to also be my employer, I’ve spent the last week looking for a new place to call home in not-Maine. I looked at many, but on Monday I walked into the ‘right’ one, made an offer, and – if it passes the home inspection – it is mine.
It is not at all what I started looking for, because I had blinders on. I have spent too much of my life being practical and analytical and, frankly, boring. I need to dream more. I need to do something for myself just because it feels right – not because it looks good on paper. I bought a house that feels like paradise, not just a rectangular box to live in. I took a leap out of the comfort zone, but I did it because I’m learning that being comfortable is not the same as being happy. The happy is up to me. I worked hard to get here. It’s not out of my reach financially – it’s just that somehow I never before thought I deserved something quite so nice. But then what’s all the hard work for?
Yes, that is a palm tree. They have a lot of those in Florida. Definitely not-Maine. There is a pool and a spa and room for all of my tools. (I still have no idea how I will get all of those tools plus three cats there, but that’s a story for another time.) There is nature and sky and a very low likelihood of snow. There are bike paths and sidewalks, and there is a canal with a dock in my own back yard. I might have to buy a canoe.
It’s not perfect, it’s not entirely practical, but it speaks to me in some Zen place with warm sun, swaying palms, and moving water. It’s not what I had envisioned six months ago, but it’s also a future I didn’t even know was there. Some things have happened lately that knocked me down, but they also empowered me to get up, get some help, get out of here and make a change.
It is frightening in some ways, exciting in others. It is in no way boring, but I hope it will eventually be relaxing. It’s a new adventure, a new stage in life, and one that I hope I can write about as it unfolds. It’s a lifestyle reboot, and hopefully some sunshine on my face will put some back into my soul. If anybody wants to stop by and say Hi, the first umbrella drink is on me.