I am amazed, touched, overwhelmed, pleased and feeling a little abashed by all your good wishes, advice, enthusiasm and blessings throughout this move from Portland east to Portland west.
Beginning with the post on 8 February about my intention to switch coasts, through my current settling in, it is only busy-ness and the distraction of tracking all the details that have prevented me from acknowledging, until now, all your encouraging comments. I so appreciate all of you.
A thread running through many of your comments during these three-plus months is the idea of my courage in making the move. I've been trying to puzzle that out because it doesn't look like bravery to me - in general or at my age - just tedious and tiring, but equally exciting. The dictionary definitions of courage go something like this one from Encarta:
”The ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.”
There was no danger or pain (physical or psychic) in my decision. The difficulties were mostly logistical, but problems were solved one way and another. My biggest uncertainty was whether cost overruns (everything costs more than you imagine) would impoverish me. And there was nothing to fear – except the potential cost overrun. (The move did cost more than I had planned, but not enough to lose sleep over.)
As far as being deflected from my goal, once the contract was signed on my Maine house, which happened on 15 March, there was no backing out.
Plus, it is not like I'm moving to Afghanistan or some remote Chinese village where I don't know the language and customs. I was born in Portland, Oregon and have visited often over the 50-odd years since I left. I've gotten lost on driving errands this past week, but I generally know the territory and was already comfortable here.
And, I was not leaving behind anything in Portland, Maine that I will miss (if you don't count cheap lobster).
So I wonder if people who think I am brave to move across the country might, on second thought, find they are less comfortable with making big decisions than I am. We each approach choices in our own way; I just want them done.
Dithering is painful for me. I don't like decisions hanging over my head so I often make them quickly to relieve the anxiety. I've rarely been sorry and when something doesn't work out – like Portland, Maine – I figure out how to fix it.
The fix is not always ideal (for me, ideal living is New York City), but I learned in childhood (as so many our age did) that you can't have everything. More often than not, however, second-best and even third is good enough.
It also helps to not have regrets. I've never seen the point – what's past is past. It certainly would have saved a lot of time and effort, not to mention money, to have moved to Oregon four years ago - which I considered then – rather than Maine. But I didn't. My mistake. Fixed now.
And if the move had not been possible, I would have made Maine work well enough so that I was not miserable. What else is there to do in such circumstances.
I didn't always take setbacks and decision-making so lightly. If my mother were still with us, she would have a few tales of my teenage agonies when things didn't go my way. Mom had a saying for every situation. “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” “Into everyone's life some rain must fall.” And frequently: “Get over it, Sarah Heartburn.”
It would be lovely to think I am brave and courageous, and it's nice that some of you do. But those words should be reserved for heroes, which I definitely am not. Mostly, I try to muddle through, point myself toward what makes me feel better and hope for the best.
A housekeeping note:
There are emails from some of you that need answering. I've become a bit fanatical this week about unpacking as many cartons as possible each day and then in the evening, I'm too tired to think. I promise I'll get to them soon.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vagabonde: Recollection of a Special Kiss