There is a sofa under the window in the back of one of the rooms at the Ilsley Public Library in Middlebury. No one was sitting on it the other day, it was as if it had been reserved for me, so I plopped myself down, put my feet up on the painted bench that serves as both a book and foot rest and donned my writer’s hat. While not alone in the physical sense, I was in the psychological one, for social norms dictate leaving the lone reader or writer to their own devices, who knows what kind of reaction you would get if you interrupted them and asked what they were cooking for dinner that night.
It is three months since I rolled into Middlebury, VT, my new home town, with two cats and a dog, after four days of sweaty, dirty travel, with everything I owned or loved spinning somewhere on wheels between southwest Florida and midwestern Vermont. During these 12 weeks, we made the unplanned purchase of a new oven, had a heating system installed, located and had our first appointments with our new medical provider, Toby was attacked and bitten by a pit bull, I’ve had two job interviews and declined a third, I climbed Buck Mountain and did not die, been birding half a dozen times, won a petty argument with the condo board, bought my first snow tires in many years and some, hopefully enough, warm clothes to walk into our first Vermont winter after a year off from snow and ice.
It’s only been the past few days that I have almost slept through an entire night. While I still wake up often, I inform my brain to go back to sleep, it’s okay to turn off the switch that turns to the ON position earlier each night and stays there until I hear the church bells gong 5 times. I have made up my own scientific reason for this: the dark places of the brain, the black hole of our unconscious whose well has no bottom, has its own unfathomable timetable for healing, for shoring up layers of emotional scar tissue to dull the daily anxieties of redirecting a life. Now is the time for thanks, it is always appropriate to be grateful, but this is the kind of thanks that has no words to match the fears it has surmounted.
What these weeks have also quietly presented is an awareness of creativity in its many forms, my own bright energy running clean and true, every day I pull permission from my Protestant ethic upbringing of work before pleasure to practice joy in whatever presents itself to passion: guilt-free writing, drawing, reading, birding, photography, walking in the woods. I am learning the moving meditation of beginner Tai Chi, a friend is teaching me how to knit and purl and cast on and off. These are the things bringing me home now, 14 months after leaving the only one I knew.