As thousands of school children across North America are doing or have just done, let me tell you about my summer, as it started the night we were burgled.
Having our home invaded, some very personally precious things taken, was a blow. Nothing physical was permanently damaged, other than a screen which needed to be replaced, and I know that there are many, many people who have suffered greater losses than the jewellry left to them by their parents or grandparents but still…
The loss left me feeling bereft, anchorless, a feeling I am sure exacerbated a little by the fact that I sort of am. Anchorless, I mean.
Being here was our mutual decision but I gave voice to the idea first. Jeff had been thinking it for a long, long time but I said the magic words out loud first. And I do not regret them. Being here, being close to his parents is the best thing we could be doing. And I really love this city. For all my friends and family who remember the news stories coming out of Buffalo tv stations and who still think Tonawanda is burning… it’s not. If I’m going to live in this country, and I’m not going to be in NYC, then I would most like to be in Buffalo.
And yet… and yet. This is my work, this sitting at a desk and writing, thinking, editing, parsing, agonizing, starting over, wondering what the hell EVER made me think that being a fiction writer was something any sane person would choose to do. So I am beset by insecurity that what I really want is something that is out of my grasp. And I’m doing it alone. Making friends has been a very slow thing and, although perhaps I shouldn’t be, I am surprised by how much I miss that easy camaraderie of someone to talk with, someone with whom I might share the occasional snarky remark (!), someone with whom to share the endless cups of coffee or summer glasses of iced tea. These are the things one finds missing when there is no regular job to go.
I am joining a writer’s group next week, when they get back into session after a summer break, and I’m sure that will lead to new friends. And I continue to delight in hearing from friends around the world, especially those who read this blog and offer kind words and support. And I have a great in-law family here who appreciate me as part of the family. It’s not like I’m wandering the streets, talking to myself.
After having been burgled, after having dealt with the nearly-endless amount of paperwork from the insurance company, we started to talk seriously about moving. Not because we particularly felt unsafe in our tiny, lovely apartment but because we realized we were paying a lot for rent AND for storage AND for extra insurance so perhaps we should find a larger, cheaper place and, in a sense, re-fresh our fresh start.
This may just be what I saw while searching for a place, but I was very surprised to discover that houses and apartments listed for rent were available NOW or at the most in 2 weeks. Landlords weren’t looking for tenants for a couple of months or even next month but NOW. Still, when you find the place you really want, at a price you really want, in a location you really want, NOW is a good thing. So we worked out a deal (and paid entirely too much for a security deposit for Scarlet, who is worth it until she does something that makes us crazy and then we shout, “Hey, $400 cat! Cut it out!”) and slowly moved in.
Things came from our storage unit (thanks again Michael & Tall Jeffrey & Greg & Robin & Cai & Adam & Ryan), followed a couple of weeks later with the second half of the move. That break was planned and thank goodness it was, because I was too sick to do very much at all for about a month. And that’s another reason for the summer of my… well, maybe not quite discontent.
There is nothing glamorous or exciting about illness, except in the movies when Ali McGraw is dying in Ryan O’Neal’s arms, but having an intestinal tract illness is even less so. On the plus side, I lost a notable amount of weight. On the negative side, I had no energy for about six weeks. On the plus side… Nope, that’s it for positives. On the negative side, it’s very isolating being so ill you cannot leave your home but not suffering from an illness you actually want to discuss with anyone outside the medial profession. Or with your sister who, lucky girl, heard more about my bathroom habits than anyone actually should have to endure. Jeffrey, bless him, was happy to be Mr Ginger Ale when I needed him to and really, that’s all anyone could ask.
So I spent my summer being burgled, recovering from same, being ill, recovering from same, moving, recovering from same. See? It’s not really discontent but it’s not really… Hopeful. That’s the word I want. I want my life to be hopeful. I want to see a challenge and believe that I can meet and maybe beat it, but definitely not let it get me down. I want to take a blank piece of paper and fill it with images of places and people you want to know more about. I want to turn around a stinky little illness and make my life healthier. I want hope back.
As wistful as it still makes me feel, I know I’m not going to see my grandmothers’ jewellry again. I have lost my mother’s wedding rings and my father’s signet ring, and all the lovely pieces Jeffrey has given me over the years (except for my engagement and anniversary rings) including my wedding ring. And perhaps I should be rejoicing that I’m unlikely to work again in a cubicle somewhere, making friends in that easy to meet, easy to leave way of some (although certainly not all) work friendships. And I am not moving again; I say that as if I believe it because I have hope.
This is the autumn of my hope and expectations. This is the autumn of re-freshing my fresh start.