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WALKING AWAY

Out, Out, Brief Candle: Leaving Here

So, you go through your day - wake up, tea, breakfast, catch up with housemate who's been away 9 days, go babysit funny 1.5 year old of your acquaintance, have coffee with a friend, come home, eat dinner, more chatting, and then suddenly...

WHAM.

Then your housemate, your friend, your mother, mentions something about having to move back to Phoenix next year, you know, because the one brother who's been sort of the landlord figure for Ye Olde Homestead will be going off to the Peace Corps with She Who Will Be His Wife Come May, and Sita'll have to do something about the house, sell the place, or rent it, just settle it somehow, and...

And this whole thing? This whole wonderful thing that has been the last two years? The two of us? This place? This dream.

That's the end.

Because after the house is sold, she will go off on her Next Adventure. The Mediterranean. A monastery. China. Something.

Moving here with me was meant to be the first step of a greater freedom for her. I knew that. I INTENDED that.

But.

Well. I just love being here so much. I'm not adventurous, you know. I enjoy adventure, but I like it so much to be... settled. Here. With a rhythm and a ritual to life. Walking. Writing. Working. Forging ties. Cooking. Figuring out community. Going deeper.

So I had a minor freak out, you know, like you do. Started staring into space. At walls. Mind went into overdrive.

"We have a whole year," she said. "Anything could happen."

"Yes, but Sita, this kind of move takes a whole year to plan. If something changes, plans can be adjusted, but the planning still needs to happen."

"You plan for change and adjustments. I accept change and let plans adjust to me."

"I was packed and ready for a year before moving out here. I'd been house-hopping and saving money and working while all my stuff was in storage. When I went to pick you up, you weren't even fully packed yet."

We operate differently. The different ways we operate work for us. But suddenly I realized I needed to make a new plan.

Got hugged. Listened to my mother's heartbeat for a while. That awful clock. The fragility of this flame.

Talked it out.

Things like this need talking.

The fact is, I love Westerly. I don't want to leave. But if I did leave, it would be with the plan of one day returning. As a fully self-sustaining adult.

Most of the plans I could think of involved money. Very tricky, not having any. But all that can be arranged. Money sometimes happens, especially when absolutely necessary. Some work pays off. Some windfall.

This just means I need to work harder.

I think what this means, too, is after In the Next Room? No more theatre for a while.

I had two Shakespeare plays and this amazing Sarah Ruhl play. I did this thing. This is a high note to end on. But I cannot be in theatre and write the way I need to. Two very separate pieces of my brain, both of which require formidable concentration, both of which are constantly... learning. Often on the fly. And as much as I wish my life could just be this - theatre and writing - the truth is, with a day job, even a part time one, it is too much.

No more theatre. Just novel. Pursue three agent threads offered by friends. If these fall through, pursue other threads.

There are other threads. Find more. Find enough to make a frikkin rope so I don't drown in panic.

The book I'm writing? Is good.

If anything I have ever written is commercially viable, it's this one. How do I know? Well, sometimes you just know these things. I know when I'm writing weird, experimental, lyrical, inaccessible bullshit. And I know when something is good. Even if the first draft was skeletal and the second draft was bloated. I'm pretty sure this draft is good. Solid. Salable.

If it sells, then I'll have a bit of a margin.

What will I do with that margin?

I don't suppose it'll be enough to solely support myself living by myself. Not quite yet.

Probably I'll have to house-hop again.

Don't want to leave the East Coast.

Thinking someone might want to move in with me and take up Sita's half of the rent. That could happen, right? Someone to sublet? It's a nice place. Rent is very reasonable.

Thinking of the friends who might take me in.

Options.

Boston. New York City. Maine. Canada. (Ottawa. Montreal. Toronto.) Maybe Chicago for a little while. Maybe stay with my dad again, maybe Mrs. Q's basement.

Options. One year. While I write Book 2. Because they'll want Book 2, once Book 1 sells.

How do I know?

I know.

And if they don't, that's all right. I make plans, and then I adjust to change.

If they don't, this is the 21st Century. The SELF-PUBLISHING CENTURY. I have community. I have clever friends. I have a FRIKKIN BAND and a college education. I can do this thing. Survive.

And when I have survived this next transition, if I do, I will come back to Westerly.

And I will buy a house.

Because I want to live in a place that I do not have to leave.

And I want it to have a guest room.

And a kitchen I can cook in.

I want to live in a house by the sea.

Okay?

Okay.

It seems like such an impossible, beautiful thing to want. With my life of endless college debt and my teenager tourist job and my lack of the kind of discipline that would propel me ever higher, ever faster.

My discipline is more the trudging variety, with lots of stops for naps.

Maybe the naps must stop.

Panic is a great motivator.

Ah, adrenalin.

I don't know.

I don't know, but it's a plan and I don't have to cry anymore because I will miss this apartment and my mother and the theatre and what I've begun to build.

Because I can always come back. Or build something better, on the foundations of what I've begun.

And I can be a place she returns to, between her time with the anchorites and the mermaids of Eleuthera.

And I have lived alone before. And I have traveled and worked without having a home before. And my friendships are stronger because of it. And I have been generous with what I've been given, and I can be generous again.

We lit the owl candle I bought my mother while in Ireland. And the dragonfly candle.

The kitchen smells of beeswax.

Owls for death. Dragonflies for transition.

It is good to light candles in these startled moments.

Winter is full of these chill darknesses. This one more than most.

Good practice, I suppose, in letting go.

And, well. Even if I don't like adventures so much, even if I am truly boring and like to stay at home while my imagination ramps up and wanders worlds unseen, maybe adventure just likes ME.

And life keeps on being interesting, despite my determination to STAY PUT.

And it's all right. It's all right. It's all right.

***

Time for a little infusion of Nellie Bly.

Excuse me while I quote myself.

"Look on us with gentleness, Saint Nellie.
Look on us with radiant decision.
Look on us with eyes that burn away excuses.
Take us by the t-shirt collars,
Holler in our ears.
O hear us, Nellie Bly, and kiss away
Our fear of failure.
Set upon our frowning brows
The daybreak of horizon, this gorgeous dawn,
And we will wear you like a pin on our lapels,
Like a medal around our necks,
Like a lucky thumb ring.

The reward for living large is a useful sort of deathlessness.
We hope you do not mind.

And, in our turn?
We will repay in kind."

***

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Comments

"...maybe adventure just likes ME."
I think you hit upon the truth of it!

*hug* LOVE YOU!
Oh, Nin.
Offering hugs and encouragement! Always!
I know, darling. Thank you.
Only I just felt so safe and happy for a while. And that was... very beautiful.

Possibly I will feel safe and happy again as soon as I wake up. Just need a moment of adjustment is all.
Change is always scary. I'm looking at some right now, too, so I totally get it. But I know you will land on your feet, my lovely. We should talk soon. Maybe next week?
Maybe. Tech week next week. Have a few daytimes free but no evenings. Maybe after we open and have dark days in the middle of the week. Maybe then. Will letcha know.
No worries. If it works, lovely, otherwise it will keep till you are less busy. More hugs!
I was serious about the come live here. I can talk to the wife, and 15 months is a looooooong time, and much can change. but we have a basement, see, and there is a bathroom all your own, and a door, and cats and turtles and an adorable small child. and we cook and drink tea and coffee.... and we like actors and writers. and Will Alexander and Haddayr and many other folks are here....
The Twin Cities?

It would be a big move.

But... I hear the arts scene in Minneapolis is pretty faboosh. I don't know how mobile I'd be. Car situation. All situations. But it is GOOD TO KNOW! I may sojourn your way - for many reasons. If not next year, then SOMETIME. Maybe a tour! Maybe a vacation.

I do tend to romp well with small children. Never really had to deal with turtles before...

Anyway. It is so GENEROUS of you. And such a relief. Like having a bright beacon in the west.
The cities! They are lovely! But I am biased. They are full of awesome people though, and a great arts scene and rivers and lakes and the best museum and and and.
This is a FINE ENTHUSIASM!
If you are ever curious, I could email you more details about the cities but that was the summary.
The Twin Cities are the best place I've ever been. I miss them all the time.
Will you ever go back?
Well I'm in the process of buying a house here, so that doesn't bode well. :) But who knows. Life has taken me so many unknown and unexpected places so far I don't feel I can rule anything out.
I know it's not fair to the Twin Cities to try to keep you in this neck of the woods, but I do hope somehow we're able to.

Of course it's a dry-mouth-inducing moment of panic to realize that the situation as it is now will come to an end. But I know you're equal to the challenge ahead, and you'll get by with a little help from your friends. Which is to say, us.
I think it will be ALL GOOD. 15 months is totally enough to figure this stuff out. I will have a better idea of what to expect after March 2014, I think.

Just had to have a moment of pre-grief, I think, so that the rest of the year will be CLEAR and full of ZOOM.
I don't think you'd want it for a long-term solution, but I have TWO guest rooms and a big house, even a dry basement to store things temporarily, so if you're between places and between big plans, remember that I'm here.
Oh, Faye, how AMAZING! What a wonderful offer! Suddenly next year seems so bright with possibilities! I would love to speak to you more about this as the time comes closer. For now, THANK YOU!

Edited at 2014-02-06 03:50 pm (UTC)
She's a tzedek. She just can't help herself: gemilut hasadim is the name of her game.

I am personally ALL for any solution that keeps our beloved CSEC within driving distance.

Edited at 2014-02-06 04:05 pm (UTC)
Be well and godspeed. Will help as I can.
You help just by chiming in, Brother Chaos. Thank you kindly.
Oh love, what a dilemma. But things will work out. Solutions will reveal themselves to you. Take it from a Navy wife, 15 months is MORE than enough time to plan a relocation. We don't even get 15 WEEKS! Know that I am here for any and all emotional support you need. We can totally whine about the suckitude of unexpected moves over chai together. Love and hugs!!!
Thank you! An action plan always suits me better than a bitch fest, but we all need those from time to time!

I think as a Navy wife and mom, you must be SUPEREFFICIENT at getting things done to task. It is GOOD to know you!!! I will ask you many questions if I need practical advice!!!
Please do! I am indeed well versed in this sort of thing. We can bitch AND formulate plans of action! Such multi-taskers, we!
I am available for talking and planning at any time. More immediately, even though I just finished recording your "Drink to me only"--Victor has several versions for you to choose from--I would be happy to play for you live if you can make it to my house. I'm pretty sure there's a piano in your nearby library, but I don't know how to gain access to it.