Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Settling Into a New Year

Here we are in 2011. There's a new calendar on the fridge and symbolically it seems like there are new possibilities that perhaps didn't exist in the old year. I was thinking a great deal about years and settling and possibilities. I was thinking the other night as I was crocheting my way toward midnight that this is the first year in the last few when we were not planning to move in the new year. On New Year's Eve 2008, we knew we were going to leave Klamath Falls in 2009. We did that, but not at all in the way we had expected. It didn't turn out badly. Indeed it is hard to imagine how leaving Klamath Falls could possibly have been worse than living there. The most important thing was to get out and save ourselves, so the fact that it wasn't what we had planned doesn't matter much. New Year's Eve 2009 saw us sitting in Niagara Falls knowing we would have to leave there in a couple of months. I did not want to go and I knew I had to. This time I was smart enough not to have expectations beyond the ideas that we were leaving and when we did we would be heading east. Plenty of surprises were waiting for us even without expectations. After wandering around part of Maine for 6 weeks, settling in one apartment for 2 1/2 months, camping for 5 weeks, and staying with kind friends for 3 weeks, we ended up where we are now--still in Brunswick and planning to stay. we signed a lease. But that doesn't mean I feel settled. Oddly enough, I don't, really.
I realized that in the last decade I have not settled well. When I left Alaska, I figured we would be relatively mobile for a time as we did what we needed to do to get ourselves ready for our move to Ireland. Still, I had expected to find a place to settle temporarily. Instead I found myself completely unsettled in Klamath Falls for 5 years and two weeks while I watched myself fall into what seemed like a bottomless pit of severe depression. All I wanted to do, starting two weeks after I got there, was to get the hell out. Five years after that, I did, but settling in Niagara Falls, though I wanted to, proved to be impossible because of the pollution that was causing health problems for both of us. So I began my wandering once again, looking for a place to settle until it's time to go. I ended up in Brunswick. It's nice. I like it. I knew as soon as we got here that this is where we need to be right now. But I'm not settled. I am content. I am at peace. I am not settled. Part of this is simply that I know I am not going to be here for years and years. I hope that next year at this time we will be planning to move again. I know well enough that this may or may not be the case, and planning is one thing and actually proceeding is quite another, but we have to have goals in our lives and that's ours, even though we hold it lightly. I also think that there is something about where we are that makes it hard to settle in. I know someone who ran for the office of State Representative and he lost by less than 150 votes. I have had several people tell me he did well for a newcomer. He's been here for 6 or 7 years. To me that's not a newcomer, but I know from past experience that it takes a lot longer than that to get past newcomer status in a small town. So it's OK. I will leave here when I am still a newcomer. This place will probably end up living in my memories and life stories as a pleasant place where I could come and regroup after a year and a half on the road and 5 years and two weeks of bare-knuckled survival. I have met some great people. I am glad to be here and I know that when I go I will be glad to go--not because I dislike it here but because I will be excited about where I am going. So I will remain unsettled and content to be so. Happy 2011!