Wise Women . . . Now is on Hiatus
I looked up hiatus before I chose it for the heading in this post. It means a pause in the action. It is absolutely the right word to use for Wise Women . . . Now. Our writers and I are going to pause until mid-summer. It’s not that we’ve run out of essays or ideas for essays. We have a nice, timeless stock of good writing.
WWN pauses, but I will not be still. I will be in motion in every way possible: My body, mind, emotions and my furniture. This house I love so much will stay and be loved by others. I leave it and Connecticut to go home – once more.
Last year, as I thought about the good sense of moving again, I asked writers to say something about what home means to us. Our species may have started as roaming hunter/gatherers but once we grasped the concept of the benefits of staying in one place we mastered the art. There is a reason we marvel at families who’ve lived in the same house or on the same land for generations. There is something solid and comforting about staying put.
But, some of us, like the snail, carry our homes with us. Not seen as a beautiful shell on our backs, but in our hearts and in our souls. It is this concept that makes it possible for me to leave a house I thought I’d be carried out of – one way or another.
Because I trust my instincts. They’ve served me well over more than seven decades. It’s not the first time I’ve left a place I love. When Lee May invited me into his life twenty-six years ago, wisely, I didn’t hesitate. I had a house and an apartment, a career, family and a place in a town known for being tough to get your footing – Boston. But another life beckoned, and I answered. In the weeks leading to that 1985 departure my loving friends took me to breakfasts, lunches and dinners and, about halfway through the entree there was a lean across the table toward me. Eyes were fixed on mine and the question was always some version of “HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?!”
Gardener Lee - on the move again
No. I trusted and loved this man. And, as important, I trusted myself. In a quarter of a century, even when I’ve been mad at him about something (usually something silly), there hasn’t been a minute I thought it was a bad decision.
When we retired in 2001, I wanted to come back to New England because I love it and missed stone walls, fresh lobster, the ocean, winding roads, and the kind of quiet that seems to exist here as nowhere else. And, I wanted to get to know our four grandchildren and see more of a beloved daughter and son-in-law.
And, after a hectic and satisfying career in Atlanta the city had worn me out. Too much traffic; too many meals out – just too much of everything.
One of East Haddam's finest
My instincts were right again, and we settled happily here in the rural Connecticut River Valley. What I hadn’t anticipated was that we’d become active members of the community and that Lee would build a beautiful and notable garden. We grew roots.
Photo by Lyn
I’ve always suspected, because I’m pretty laid back and easy-going, that people think I’m more spontaneous than I am. I mull. Then I mull some more. I didn’t come easily to even the notion that, in our early seventies we could manage one more move. Even more difficult than my contemplating the change was asking Lee if he could leave this special garden. I knew pretty quickly, while I doubt I’ll ever love the bones and function of a house as I do this one, that I could love another one for its own good stuff. At one point I said to myself, “It’s just a house, for heaven’s sake.”
But Lee had spent hours of labor and creative energy in a garden where he’d dug every hole. True, it is a mature garden now and some would pronounce it “finished.” What else could he possibly do to it? Gardeners would laugh at that since no garden is ever finished or static.
I wanted to go back to Georgia because our daughter Leslie and our grandson Henri could benefit from having us near, and we could benefit from the opportunity to help Henri grow up and to ease Leslie’s time constraints a bit. He’s terrific now and she does an amazing job managing a challenging life, but having us there will be fun and make life easier for us all. Lee gets a new gardening palette on a smaller, more intimate scale. I get to be close to services and spend less time gathering the basics of daily life.
And, eventually, when we are less able to do for ourselves, a simpler life will make it easier for our children to manage us.
But I couldn’t even think of making this argument to Lee until I was ready for him to say no. Because Leslie is a bona fide grownup, she understood this.
A beloved home
I mulled some more and tried to think of what I was asking of us both from every angle. Could we stand the emotional trauma of leaving a place where we’d invested so much time, money and heart? Was I physically strong enough for the planning, tossing out, and packing that you can’t really delegate to anyone else. And, could we sell our house at a price that allowed us, as modestly financed retired people, to make a change and not suffer a dramatically reduced lifestyle. We’ve all watched the housing bubble burst and tumble around like clothing in a front-loading washing machine. No one seems to really understand the real estate market anymore. Was it up? Down? Static?
Finally, watching displaced Syrian families in Turkish settlement camps on the news one evening, I gained perspective and came to my senses.
I asked and the amazing Lee May didn’t hesitate. He was all in. As it happened, our timing was very good. We sold quickly and, as quickly, found a house in Georgia that suits us. If things continue to move as smoothly as they have so far, we expect to be in Georgia by the end of May.
The last month has been nothing but filling out papers, faxing and talking on the phone about one house or the other, and giving and throwing things away – and packing, packing, packing. There are times I just stand in one room or another with my hands on my hips with no idea what I should do next.
But like the pleasure of that first bite of the filling in a jelly donut, there has been a round of goodbye breakfasts, lunches and dinners and a splendid museum party complete with a gorgeous goodbye cake. Our Connecticut friends have feted us in fine style. This time no one has asked me if I’ve lost my mind, or if Lee has. However, many have asked about Lee’s garden and hoped that the new owners will care for it as he has. We hope they enjoy it.
On the move
Now, as we move into our last days in this beloved home and garden, our pace has increased and the number of filled boxes grows by the day. Sometime when I feel teary, especially when someone says they’ll miss us, I think of Viktor E. Frankl’s inspiring Man’s Search for Meaning. He believed in the power and value of tears as an expression of those things in life that don’t come easily, but are so worth doing.
As we move into this next kicked-up stage of our move, I’m tidying up my doings as Lee is his. That includes stepping away from Wise Women . . . Now while I make this transition. When I start us up again, I’ll be in Marietta, Georgia, in a bungalow on a cul-de-sac. Not in hurly burly downtown Atlanta this time, but in a quieter place. My computer and I will be in a different room and I’ll have a new view as I write. My excitement outweighs my apprehension by miles. That is a good thing.
I am ready to make a new home.
Lyn May began Wise Women . . . Now three years ago this August. She expects to continue this website for older women who like to write – and read – for at least the next year.