I’m not counting the few times I relocated across town. I mean the big moves, from one state to another, even from one part of the country to another.
You already know my fondness for Dover – and I have been intensely loyal to some of the locales I’ve made home but not others – yet this transfer of fidelity has been rather startling in its speed.
Dover? That was the address I had longest anywhere, edging out my native Dayton. Yet the 300-mile leap from Dover to Eastport was a breeze in comparison to the others I’d done. It’s rather perplexed both my wife and me.
Here are a few factors.
- We needed to downsize, and our house and garden and stuffed barn were more than we could keep up with. Quite simply, they were weighing on us, not just emotionally but especially when we looked at our bank balance.
- I had been to Eastport. Apart from Dover, where I had been worshiping as a Quaker, the previous moves had dropped me in as a total stranger. I hadn’t even visited Indiana University until showing up as a student in the middle of my sophomore year. Well, there was my return as a research associate, this time with a wife and a duplex rental on the other side of town. I hadn’t even been to Binghamton, New York, for a job interview.
- Eastport had a few things I was anticipating. Quoddy Head State Park had rekindled a sense of wilderness I’d left behind in the Pacific Northwest 40 years earlier. And the local choir had a repertoire much like our Revelsingers in Boston. Plus, I had been to the small Quaker Meeting and worked in projects with one of its outstanding members.
- I wasn’t alone. Eastport started out as my elder daughter’s wild dream, soon supported by my wife. Where else could we afford to live so close to the ocean? Back to downsizing, but as a whole-family venture. No more Lone Ranger sans Tonto, even if I was coming up as the vanguard. Their visits were festive occasions.
- We weren’t doing it all in one fell swoop but rather in stages. For the first four months, I was commuting back to New Hampshire almost weekly as we prepared our old house to market – meaning largely decluttering and cleaning. On this end, we still need to make renovations before filling this place with goods now in storage. Frankly, I’m enjoying doing more with less.
- Emotionally, Covid had already distanced me from many connections. I wasn’t swimming daily, for one thing, so that part of my routine wasn’t severed. I hadn’t even seen my pool buddies or the lifeguards for the better part of a year. We Quakers were worshiping and conducting business by Zoom, and I could keep that connection going a while longer. I was even getting together monthly online with Dover’s religious leaders and a Seacoast writers’ schmooze.
- Being in the middle of a big writing project gave me a crucial focus and meant the solitude on this end was welcome. Normally, access to libraries would be essential to what I was investigating, but I found rare resources in my computer searches and downloads. Yes, times have changed.
- There was no accompanying sense of failure or betrayal. My job hadn’t been terminated or taken an unacceptable turn – gee, that could lead to another Tendrils! (You know, the modern American workplace – see my novel Hometown News for examples.) I didn’t even have a new job to confront – what a relief! My lover hadn’t just dumped me or failed to reconnect when I arrived, and I wouldn’t be searching for love, either. Nor had I left paradise for an industrial or suburban wasteland.
- I’ve enjoyed exploring with an eye for what I’d introduce to the others on their visits. And meeting some fascinating new folks, likewise. I still feel I’m living in a real-life Northern Exposure.
- Well, there were moments of feeling exiled, like “What have I done wrong,” but they were soon countered by reclaiming some of my independence. I’d gotten spoiled, as far as food goes, and not really cooked anything for two decades, other than lighting the grill or popping something in the microwave. (Well, there was a fried rice that impressed one of our Chinese guests.) But now our morning phone calls have included cooking advice and insights. That sort of thing. I’ve been pleased with my dinners, even the ones I wouldn’t serve anyone else, should I have to. As for exile? Nah, I’ve never felt more comfortable anywhere.