Leaving a comfort zone means boarding a roller coaster. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to receive updates about my whereabouts and adventures in your e-mail.
My plans – traveling, writing full time – necessitates giving up this house, the only house I’ve ever felt truly at home, with its Narnia of tall trees and stone walls and its funky floor plan with loads of bookshelves and interesting spaces. There’s more. House hunting at the same time I was working on Vanishing Point, this property popped up for sale the same week I began searching in earnest. Central to the story is a studio located in the main character’s backyard. In the back corner of this yard, a studio, nearly identical to the one in my book. I looked no further, and finished Vanishing Point at its windows.
I’ve loved all that teaching has provided these ten years, all the sharing with and learning from scores of marvelous students, but for thirty years I’ve wanted to be more totally immersed – the words ‘more totally indulged’ also come to mind – in writing.
Rodin’s belief that to work is to avoid dying while living is now mine. I’d begun to feel I was dying a little bit each day, not because I was teaching, but because I was teaching too much while not writing enough, not reading or painting or walking or looking around me enough. As I write this, I have some forty essays to grade – some semesters I’ve had a hundred. But now, with a book about to be released and a new book started, I’m on the verge of a better balance.
But a better balance means selling the house and paring my belongings down to a bare minimum since I long to travel and live in faraway places. So, at the same time I’m giving myself permission to assume the right life, I’m relinquishing elements of identity embedded in this quirky, lovely, very-me cottage and studio, elements of identity embedded in possessions saturated with memory.
Some days go better than others. I’ve carted odds and ends to Goodwill. Donated some books to a nearby prison for women. Decided what will be stored – very little – what will be sold – a lot. Severing ties with objects rich with pleasant memories is difficult; severing ties with objects that carry mixed memories, with thorns in the skin of their beauty and warmth, liberating.
But, there are questions. Will I easily and often recall love and family and laughter without these particular Christmas decorations, this particular table around which my family gathered for twenty years? Or, is the important question whether dumping all that’s tainted will wash away regret and pain?
Only time will tell.