I’m so grateful to all of you for sticking around for “the rest of the journey” and want to say, “Welcome!” to those of you who are newly joining us. It’s been quite the ride, I can assure you, and it ain’t over yet!
Next adventure? My house is for sale, and I’m moving down to the coast, to Wilmington, North Carolina the second week in December where I’ll be rooming with a dear friend of many years and working on the Chasing Light book.
Wilmington and I are old friends, too. When I lived in Cary (2000-2003) I’d frequently hop in the car and drive the couple of hours down to the beach, park my backside in the sand, and read, nap, watch the waves, listen to the gulls, and breathe in delicious ocean air. The winter after my mother died I rented a condo and spent five months there, every day traversing the cold windy shoreline with the dogs. One afternoon I looked out over the ocean from my perch on the deck and saw a whale calf so close to the shore that I could hear the exhalation from the blowhole.
I have deep appreciation for Wilmington’s arts community, for the outdoor activities and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, for the fun downtown area, the opportunities afforded by the university and community colleges. And did I mention fresh seafood?! (Swoon…)
Also…I’m taking lots of time to say proper goodbyes to my little mountain house (and the deer and the owls and the raccoons and possums), and to the mountain community of Boone. So many dear friends here! So many memories – fourteen years’ worth – and so much creativity and life. Breweries and sustainable farms and artists and musicians. Writers and dreamers and social justice warriors. My son and daughter and son-in-law, about four ridge tops over.
And these dear old grandmother mountains, soft and round and comforting in their constant protective nearness.
In the midst of packing up I’m also writing chapter summaries for the book proposal I’m working on, trying to maintain the momentum gained at the recent Carmel Writing Retreat, and, oh, my, what fun revisiting all the places I’ve traveled, the wonders I’ve seen, and the characters I’ve met.
Twelve months. Twelve-thousand miles. Mountains, deserts, meadows, forests. Lakes, rivers, and oceans. Plains, cornfields, and wheat fields. Wide-open highways and badly rutted dirt roads. Moonlit nights and sun-stirred mornings. Frost and snow and wind and rain, dust and sand and stifling heat. And the Superbloom!
Now, the inward journey of putting together the story of my pilgrimage – the long side trips of mental meandering that were too lengthy for blog posts but that a book allows for, even invites. How I traveled back in time while moving forward, attempting to meet long-dead loved ones by visiting long-ago haunts. My exploration and discovery of locales I’d never visited and my attempts to find my new place in a world that, no longer peopled by so many family members, often feels alien. How I drove to the other side of the continent for a surprise pre-arranged meeting with myself.
Finding my way back from the far country of grief and loneliness, traversing rough passage through doubt and fear and my own resistance to releasing the past in order to take hold of the future.
As I work on the proposal, I may have questions for you all from time to time, seeking your input on what is meaningful, what is helpful. What you want to read and know more about. What you connect with.
Where your heart sings and where it breaks.
I know you want to think about and talk about things that matter. About life and love and loss and the meaning we make out of all of it. About mystery and hope and wonder.
You are a wise bunch. I do so look forward to hearing your reflections.
Speaking of things that matter, I’ll leave you with advice from Jacob Thompson. Jacob was the terminally-ill 9-year-old I mentioned in my last post who had asked for Christmas cards for his last Christmas, knowing he would not make to December 25th. The world responded. Check out his Facebook page for more details. 60,000+ cards from all over the planet. Video greetings from celebrities, drive-by parades of hundreds of law enforcement officers from all over the state of Maine, drop-ins by sports teams. Letters. Homemade gifts from kids his age. Stuffed animals. A visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. A grand Christmas feast.
Jacob died this past Sunday, a week after his big party. In sharing the sad news, his mother asked us to remember the words he lived by, wisdom born of having spent half of his life battling cancer. Jacob, obsessed with penguins (two of them paid him a visit in the hospital), adopted the motto, #LiveLikeAPenguin, as a reminder to “be friendly, stand by each other, go the extra mile, jump into life, and be cool.”
RIP, sweet boy. You changed the world for the better in your short time here.