I’ve moved households almost ten times over the years, acquiring driver’s licenses in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, California, Puerto Rico, and Massachusetts.
But the move I made a week ago was different from all the rest.
On May 4 I sold my house in Truro, MA, where I spent just shy of twenty-three years—the longest I’ve lived anywhere.
I expected to end my days there on Cape Cod, but my wife’s death from breast cancer two years ago voided that idea.
The first year after the passing of a companion of a half-century is a blur: my first Christmas alone, her birthday uncelebrated for the first time, the annual wedding anniversary no longer tallied.
During the second year since her death, I haltingly realized that it was time to move on to something more meaningful than simply maintaining the house we shared, while getting accustomed to life as a single man.
We cannot always control what is happening around us. But we can choose how to respond to those actions. This isn’t news to any of us.
So with the weeks-long help of my daughters, Julie and Wendy, I removed every personal item from eleven rooms of my house, shoving the stuff out the door to their houses, to Habitat for Humanity, to the church thrift shop, to my architect’s new Aline Interiors gallery, to the Truro swap shop—and to the town dump.
In my empty study, no more books, no more desk, no more me.
After my daughters went home and left me alone in three thousand square feet of empty space, I looked within, at my soul, and cleared from there what needed to go.
Then I drove over the Cape Cod Canal on my new, unexpected journey, my unanticipated adventure.
My girls and I agreed that this was not a move but a new chapter.
Lots of friends say it happened so fast. That’s as it should be, according to Beryl Markham, early aviator, trailblazer, and author of West with the Night:
I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.
What I'm about to write sounds like a bromide, but Paradise truly is an attitude, not a place.
I’m temporarily living in a small room in Wendy’s Madison, CT, home until I relocate to Vieques and sell my house there.
In Wendy’s little room—no larger than the one I occupy on my annual retreat at the Trappist monastery—I have found expansive freedom from the calendar and the clock.
Like, there was nothing on my schedule last week.
With my newfound time, I was able to quickly review and return the galley proofs of my new novel. As a result of my fast turnaround, Billy of the Tulips has been scheduled for early release by TouchPoint Press. The book will be published June 15 and the Kindle edition is available for Amazon pre-order.
I spent every day last week—all day long—at the Guilford, CT, library. In a sun-splashed carrel, I’ve finally been making my editor’s suggested revisions to my next novel, Down the Edges.
The manuscript has been languishing in my laptop for months and months while I wasted time on homeowner’s issues of landscaping, window washing, pest control, and on and on.
Not anymore. I have gained the mental willingness and the emotional wherewithal to shift my world whenever the present one gets dusty.
If you enjoyed reading this, you will like my book, Saints and Poets, Maybe: One Hundred Wanderings, available at: amazon. Billy of the Tulips will be available for purchase June 15 from TouchPoint Press.