Monday, December 02, 2013

Moving Day

It's not quite 3:30 of the day the movers come, and I'm awake. I've been awake for more than an hour, but it's too early to do much. I need to move boxes around and run the washer and do other things that are going to make noise, and in a building where people are sleeping I don't feel I can do that for a couple of hours.

The boxes are packed but not sealed -- a couple more than I'd expected, but still representing only about half of the stuff that was crammed into my apartment. At least half a dozen boxes are books and promotional materials that belong to one of my clients, and those are getting shipped by UPS so that I don't have to pay to move them myself. This afternoon someone will come to take most of my remaining furniture away, I hope, and I'll be carting bags and boxes to the library and Goodwill throughout the day. Leaving tomorrow morning is starting to feel over-optimistic; I may need one extra day to pack the car and clean. I'll make that call mid-afternoon, I figure.

It takes time to dismantle nine years, and for someone who pretends not to be acquisitive I'm kind of amazed at how much I managed to accumulate in that time. People keep asking whether I'm excited, but that isn't the right word. I'll feel exhilarated when I turn onto 295, either tomorrow morning or Wednesday morning. Right now I'm anxious, nostalgic, a little fearful, and tallying up the gains and losses.

The balance sheet is in my favor, always. As a friend once said, I live a magic life. I try not to take that for granted, and yet I trust that the net will appear when I leap because it always has before. I am wealthy not in funds but in the extraordinary tolerance, affection and support of a vast network of family and friends. I'm acutely aware of how much this process has drawn on those resources, and anyone who comes to me in the next 12 months and says, "You owe me," will be right.

As I get ready to leave, I think about what I was looking for when I came to Maine. It seems to me that I found almost all of it. I wanted four seasons, and to regain the sense of the passage of time, because time doesn't pass the same way in Los Angeles. I wanted to be part of a smaller community. I wanted to live in a place that was entirely new to me. I wanted room — physical, emotional and temporal — to figure out what was important to me, free of the expectations of the people I love. With the remarkable synchronicity that's run through my life, the move to Maine coincided with a nearly miraculous, life-changing reunion I'd been waiting more than 20 years for, and I needed the relative isolation of Gardiner to let me ponder all those things in my heart.

I'll always come back to Maine, because Maine is now part of who I am. Some piece of me will stay here, and I hope that some piece of it will come with me.

For the last nine years my refrigerator door has borne a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins that I found around the time of my last move. My new housemate doesn't put things on his refrigerator, so the card has gone into my memorabilia box; the ink had gotten almost too faded to read, anyway. The poem is called "Heaven-Haven," and is about a nun taking the veil.

 I HAVE desired to go
      Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
    And a few lilies blow.
    And I have asked to be       
      Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
    And out of the swing of the sea. 

The title hints at the truth: this earthly plane doesn't really offer any place like that, not even in a cloister. But Gardiner, Maine has come pretty close for me. As I jump back into the swing of the sea, I'm grateful to have been here.