The End of The Rainbow: Thoughts on Life, Family, Friendship and a Sense of Place
There is no break in the rain worthy of putting on rubber overalls, boots and raincoat and going outside to work in the sloppy yard. By the time I find the overalls in the studio loft, shake the cobwebs out and vacuum the spiders out of the bottoms of my boots, it’s raining hard again. And then it’s hailing. WTH?
The slant of the sun that turns the rain into silver strands of Christmas tree tinsel isn’t sufficient magic anymore. I’m even getting tired of rainbows. The best I can do is go stand behind the sun-warmed storm door glass for a moment when it stops, like a lazy house cat, but the view out to the yard is too depressing. The grass is ankle high, invasive ground cover is climbing up the pine tree, through the rocks in the dry stream bed, and smothering the ground of an entire shrub bed at the end of the driveway. Clumps of it have sprung up victoriously along the property edges where I dumped previously pulled plants. It’s a boisterous, arrogant weed, recently added to the list of invasive plant species in Washington State. It’s healthy and robust. I’m going to have to start burning the stuff.
Every time we take the tractor out to assist in some garden project, it leaves ugly muddy tracks in it’s wake. The grass is churned over, the mud, now on top, won the wrestling match. The scars we leave behind with every attempt to make things better are taunting reminders of the wettest winter and spring in sixty years. They look like scars that couldn’t possibly heal, as if the Orks have had their way out there. They lie in wait to trip me up as I make my way around the yard with a wheel barrow or an armload of tools. Dirty bastards.
My husband came home from a trip to the north Georgia mountains with positive vibes. For the first time in eons, I started considering what it might be like to live somewhere other than here. Since moving here in 1979, I’ve always thought of myself as a North-westerner who just happened to be born in New England. I have loved my life here. I have lived for the gardening, the moist temperate climate, the mountains, the water and the abundant flora and fauna. Moving here changed my life. Maybe even saved it.
But this year–the mountains of undone work I see ahead and the nasty weather have compounded the growing sense of depression and loneliness I’ve grappled with since the holidays. I find myself daydreaming of a life somewhere drier, with less land and a finished house–one with no ladders or compressors or piles of tools to negotiate as I vacuum the floors. That is what my idea of a dream home has been reduced to. Is it too much to ask?
I’d like to live in a neighborhood that’s friendlier in a community that’s pulled together and isn’t struggling. I’d like faster internet service. I’d love a thriving downtown to stroll with owner occupied businesses to support. And wineries. And chocolateries.
I dream of a circle of girlfriends to lunch with, and holidays that feel like holidays, and expanded learning opportunities where I could take classes and join a writing group. I’d like to be skinnier too. But I digress…
I’m feeling the need for a deeper emotional connection to community. There are probably places closer to here where I could have these things, but my mind keeps wandering east, a place I never thought I would want to settle again.
It’s not the places back there that tug at my heart strings, but the people–the family and friends I left years ago without much fore thought. The years have sped by. I don’t expect that to slow down. The future doesn’t stretch out in front of me like it did when I moved away. These thoughts and more keep prodding me. Sometimes just the thought of not being here brings me close to tears, but so did the words of my best girl friend and my sister back east when they expressed how happy they would be to have me closer again. It felt like a balm on a wound, like a mint mojito on a hot day–It felt good!
I once read an essay by a friend, the first line of which instructed that if at all possible, we should live in a place that speaks to our souls. The Pacific Northwest has always done that for me. It still does. That will never change. But I find myself needing more than a connection to place as I age. I miss deep connections to people. Facebook just doesn’t do it for me, but face time, that sounds more and more appealing to me the older I get.
I don’t know what the future holds, I only know what I feel. I’ll keep listening to my soul, and hoping for some clarity and for some vision of this dream life. Hopefully one that is attainable.
Until then, I will try to enjoy the rainbows, those signs of transition from rain to sun and back again, a pretty fitting metaphor for life lately.