The Reader’s Digest that I picked up on a grocery run has a lot of fascinating content, as usual. But among the other great reads was an excerpt from Ellen Stimson’s Mud Season that truly struck me as hilarious – and also probably quite foreshadowing of the time when I return to the country on my own once again. If you’ve not read the book, I suggest you do so. I have it queued up for myself. It is often heartening to know that I am not the only one that dreams of doing such a thing, and reading about her challenges makes mine feel less bizarre. I personally interact with a lot of brave, strong women who are doing it alone. I admire them and they inspire me.
As the promising relationship potential that I had disappears in the dust in my rear view mirror, I’ve taken the time to ruminate over what this will look like on my own. Yes, I know, I hear the ‘cluck-clucking’ over the whole giving up on relationships bit from a few concerned friends. This attitude may pass, but for now, it is my reality. That whole getting close bit and getting burned from it just hurt me too much. Maybe later. I’m not ruling it out forever; just, out for now.
I’m not terribly equipped for this stuff all by my lonesome. Yes, I did it haphazardly for a couple of years after my husband died, that’s true. And right alongside the small triumphs that I had also lie the frustrations, the sense of being overwhelmed, and the obvious lack of skills that I currently possess to make this return to the country successful. Most probably it will be fodder for stories found in the above referenced book that makes it out in bits and pieces here on my blog – except, you know, sans a husband and children and nail appointments, lol. Realism isn’t exactly my strong point. But to do this thing I must be realistic. I am going to have to prepare in so many ways that sometimes the list of preparation itself flat out is daunting to me. The one primal attraction for someone already familiar with this lifestyle was the ability for me to be taught, to have someone to look up to, to lead me. Someone with whom to build in partnership something that we could look back on with pride (and sore backs, knees and who knows what else) and say “We did this!” I often wonder if I am able to make this lifestyle dream a reality once again, will the experiences mean less when I am the only one to share the small triumphs? Will a warm fire that I have built still leave a chill around my shoulders when there is no one to share it with and relax into their arms with at the end of the day? Will the slower pace of life that I am aiming for leave me more time to miss what I don’t have? Will the cozy little shed house I see in my mind’s eye be always have an echo of what is not there? I have so much to learn, can I do it alone? Or should I just toss yet one more thing aside that means so much to me, and look at condos on the beach? I could become one of those little old ladies collecting shells in the sunrise because they can’t sleep. Or a tiny little house in town maybe, where I can have a nice garden and grow some flowers and just wilt away without fresh air and countryside around me?Having lived this lifestyle very briefly, and in a very scaled-down version of what others I see accomplish, I have no doubts that most nights I’ll be so tired that I won’t have thirty seconds to even think on it before exhaustion claims my mind and the dark blanket of sleep pulls itself over me.
Since my husband died, I have never really had a vision of what my life could look like with another partner. I have abstract, airy dreams, sure. But, fleshed out? No, not really. I let myself crack that door and imagine. I suppose women do that more than men in all honesty. We tend to be the imaginative, creative ones for the most part when it comes to relationship desires and expectations. Once my husband asked me if joy that isn’t shared, really joy? I was pretty adamant at the time that sure, it was still joy. Then I remember shortly after his death, the tiny rips of the heart that happened each time I saw something beautiful, amusing or wonder-invoking and realized that I had no one to share it with. Joy shared grows though, exponentially I think. It feels bleak to think that this will be the rest of my life. However, it is not nearly as dangerous as opening up, allowing someone inside the gates of your hideaway, filling in dreams with small bits of solid things, and then having them walk away. Maybe it is my fault that part, allowing my guard down and daring to dream. I am, underneath my more pragmatic and guarded exterior, a true romantic at heart. A believer in dreams and encourager of the same in others. Are these my choices? Is it bleak and safe versus dangerous and at risk? In reality I am sure that when the dull ache dies down I will probably look back at this and laugh at myself in a year or so. However, these are the way my thoughts ramble around in the here and now. I dislike this wrestling match between the dreamer and the realist that live inside of my head, truly I do.
So I am making a list of skills that I’ll need to make my own. I’ve started once again to scope out properties and areas of interest, keeping an eye on prices, suitability, local building codes, trying to learn about areas of interest. I know for certain that I want to move North, possibly even North of the Mason-Dixon line. I want four seasons again. I miss them something terrible already, just being two years away from them. I also want out of Tornado Alley. I don’t like the desert climate. And I certainly cannot afford the beautiful, majestic West or East coastline areas. Planning on this life alone, I don’t think I’ll be able to live where there is a ton of snow, as I have no experience in driving in it, dealing with it on a day-to-day basis, planning for it. I’ve lived with small amounts of snow, and it was no biggie really. But I also worked from home and didn’t have to go anywhere, which is a luxury I cannot count on in the future. I’d like to build working from home into my plan, but for now, I count on having to leave and work regularly. I suppose I could build a lifestyle of working off-site only in the Spring, Summer and Fall and just hunkering down for the winter. However, I suspect I’d leave the house at SOME time eventually, and there is no place for me to practice snow-driving down here in the South, lol! I’ll have to look at buying a different vehicle for the future, one capable of hauling stuff, both with a tow package and a nice bed for smaller loads, so probably a truck. My former SUV was the dream combo of the two needs, but it is long since traded in for something cheaper and more practical for my current life. I’ll have to re-acquaint myself with small arms (years and years since that was a part of my life), and become familiar with a rifle and a shotgun or two as well I suppose. Thankfully I’ve got some time, since financial goal achievement will be the predicate event to allow me to even consider this again. I get the giggles when I juxtapose my normal office wear with the practical wear that I know from experience is called for in this lifestyle. That is the one thing that I did really miss when living remotely on my own; the lack of femininity that comprised most of my life. But as a woman alone, sometimes you must sacrifice the beautiful and impractical for the realistic and practical.
On top of my already work-driven life, I don’t see much time for fun in the near future, although fun can be redefined to suit one’s own purpose I suppose. I don’t have the room or the tools here to brush up on my newly acquired canning skills, or even expand my cooking skills. The kitchen here only garners that word due to the appliances set up in the space. Thankfully, I eat simply and without a partner, don’t see as I’ll need to change much of that.
All in all, I have a lot ahead of me and really won’t have a lot of fiddle-farting time to spare. I’ve cracked open a new Journal to record my progress, as this is a three-year or more undertaking, which seems dastardly long. I must think in dog years or something. I want to play around with finances, and see if I’m putting my money towards the areas that will advance my fiscal desires most rapidly. I want to go through my book collections and see if anything can be culled, or if I need to add anything. I’ve been considering joining our local Hiking club, but since I left my boots and all behind at the farm, I’ll need to get some new ones before that. It’s a beautiful time to be out and about, even down here in the oven of the south. Fall is my favorite season, and I miss the changing leaves of TN right now. I’ve added a new bike to my list of ‘things to procure’, as the one I have is very old; replacing the tires cost more than buying a new cruiser, and I’m up for some riding between now and March, that’s for sure! It’s simply difficult to find places to ride down here that are not jammed up with cars. I don’t have a bike rack on the Honda, so I can’t load up and go someplace more safe.
So yeah, I’ve a lot to do, to plan, to learn; lots of areas of growth potential ahead of me. I wrote a poem the other day to re-frame my thinking for now. It is simple, not terribly praise-worthy, but it means a lot to me. I’ll share it here.
I Can’t Wait
I can’t wait, for a man
to bring completion
i am completely, amazingly me, right now.
I can’t wait, for a better job
but I can do a better job
where I work, right now.
I can’t wait, for different housing
but I can transform
the things surrounding me , right now
I can’t wait, for open spaces again
but I can roam
in smaller places and see their unique beauty, right now
I can’t wait, for life to become easier
but I can choose
the things that make this moment easier, right now
I can’t wait, to fulfill long-held dreams
but I can appreciate
present happiness in my life, right now
In many things we say
I cannot wait…
And overlook the gifts of today, right now.
This is my life, and it cannot wait.
So to everyone who checks in here from time to time, be well, and remember, it is YOUR life too. Use it wisely.