February 9, 2008

The Near Debacle

"Did we have a conversation last night where I assumed we were going to save for a second home in Town, and you said you wanted to make our perfect home in The Woods and never leave-- or did I dream that?" I asked R.
"We did not have that conversation last night," R said.
"Oh, I guess I dreamed it," I said with relief.
"We had that conversation Monday night," he said.
"Ah," I said vaguely.
I've been wandering around telling anyone who'll listen that R and I have planned to live in The Woods while we save up to buy a second home in Town (not sure which town), so we can eventually make The Woods our summer home.

Apparently I did not tell R, though, and he was very confused when I mentioned it.

"Why would we want to build our dream home in The Woods, and then turn around and leave it?" he asked, and then promptly fell asleep. The strange thing was that I fell asleep, too, and managed to forget that snippet of conversation completely until yesterday when it seemed like it must have been a dream. I was sure we'd had an early discussion about this plan, and in our discussion we were in agreement.

"Why would you want to move away?" R asked.

"So we could live near The People," I said. R mentioned recently that only twenty families live on our side of the lake during the winter months. That's a quiet, snowy lake, and I really like people. Sure they make me insane sometimes, but I just can't stay in a bad mood when I'm chatting with the checker at Trader Joe's or even the barrista at Peet's.

"I thought you were excited about living in The Woods. It's just like Auburn."

Auburn, California, is where I grew up, and it's not quite the same. There is very little snow in Auburn, and I never ran across a bear-- a mountain lion once, yes, but I was a bit farther up the road in Meadow Vista. Besides all that, my entire childhood I couldn't wait to get the heighdeeho out of Auburn, which is what I said to R.

"You don't want to move to Massachusetts," he said. "You're going to be miserable, and you're going to blame and hate me."

"No!" I think I may have started waving my arms wildy at this point. "I want to move to Massachusetts, but I don't know if I want to spend the rest of my life there."

"Then where do you want to spend the rest of your life?" He asked.

That is the material point, as Mr. Darcy might say. I have no idea where I want to spend the rest of my life. I have a friend who said that she always felt sad that she wasn't passionate about her career or extra-careercular activities, and I felt thankful at the time that I've always loved to write. Now, though, I see that it's also difficult to feel. . . not homeless, but directionless.

That same friend feels very passionate about the town where we live, but I did not choose to live here. I ended up here because I followed my ex-husband (who was not yet my husband) after college. It was his home town. It's not a bad place to end up, really-- good weather, lovely view of the city, yummy restaurants-- a bit on the pricey side, unfortunately, which brings me back to where I started.

I think I just haven't yet stumbled upon the place where I feel drawn to live out my days, but wherever it is, I'm pretty sure there are people there, and I'm reasonably certain that there's a house with a picture window where I can watch all of those people wandering the neighborhood with their children and their dogs. I also think there might be a bookstore and a coffee shop around the corner.

"I'm just saying that I might be perfectly, blissfully happy in The Woods," I said to R, "but I might also like to have a house in Town someday."

"Someday?" He asked. "Someday. Not within the next five years?"

I shook my head. I can handle five years with the bears and the snow and the fisher cats. It's possible. Perhaps I will come to love The Woods and think of them as my woods, in Mary Oliver-like fashion:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

"Wild Geese" Mary Oliver

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