There I was, in the Portland Airport stocking up on healthy (chocolate) snacks for my red-eye flight back to DC. Late on a Saturday night, the concourse wasn’t exactly humming with activity. The lady who rang me up was friendly, and asked about where I was headed and how my time in Oregon had gone. Because nobody else was in the shop, I asked her, “So how are things going with you?”
Writers do this. We invite complete strangers to confide in us.
She looked at me like, “I’m going to answer honestly even if you were only being polite,” and told me she and her hubby had just made the decision to buy land near a town up along the Columbia River gorge. She was a-quiver with both joy and anxiety, because this step involved leaving a happy situation for a potentially happier one–some loss, but also many dreams germinating. I Do Not Sleep on Airplanes, so I had a lot of time to consider this little exchange.
I thought about life transitions, and how I tend go about them. I’m struck by how SLOWLY I make most changes. It took me three years to get free of the practice of law after it became clear my services were no longer needed by the State of Maryland. When my former spouse proposed, we had a year-long engagement…. just because. When I started writing novels, it was–again–years between “I’ve written a book!”and “Maybe I could get this thing published?”
My style with a big change is cautious and noncommittal, which contrasts with my oldest sister’s approach. Once that lady makes up her mind, STAND BACK. She focuses on what has to be done to get from point A to point B, and knocks out that list boom-boom-boom. I have the same list, but I’ll take care of one or two items at a time while sticking to my general routine.
This topic is likely on my mind because several family members have lately asked, “When are you going to get the heck out of Maryland?” My daughter left thirteen years ago and has come back three times (once to look at a sale horses). I no longer practice law such that admission to the bar matters, I can write books anywhere. What is keeping me here, where I have no family, no job ties, and my house is approaching the money pit stage?
I will continue to visit Oregon (and the Portland Rose Test Garden), trying to hit every season as I do, and nosing around for areas where I feel at home. I will continue to whittle away at my property’s feral cat challenge, and I will continue to debride my house of the stuff that magically accumulates after three decades in the same location. But I’m probably not going anywhere soon. Probably.
How do you change course? How do you know a major change is coming up, and have you ever pulled one off particularly well (or not well)? To one commenter, I’ll send a copy of the RITA-award winning Duke in the Night by writin’ buddy and all around lovely person Kelly Bowen.