I was in Massachusetts two weeks ago, in early December. I started to write about this last week, just when I arrived back here, to my west coast home. I started to write about this visit and two things happened. One—my dog pulled me in and a writing about her was essential to that moment. And two—I found my thoughts were not quite clear. I found my thoughts were not quite clear which I know my dog knew, and so she saved me from myself by pulling me in to write about her until I was ready to write about me.
Because my reflection of this visit needed more time to simmer, to percolate, and then to solidify so that my sharing of this visit in this early December would capture not just the story of my visit but the essence of my visit, too.
I will start with this photo.
This photo is the Concord River. It is beautiful here on this river in the mornings on my runs two weeks ago in Massachusetts. It is beautiful here, along this river. My runs here, in the early mornings, are gifts to me. Each day. Each day that I run here, to this river, is a gift that I take in and hold tight and do not take for granted. Not even for an instant.
Because in this gift of these runs along this river in Massachusetts sits many important things that are unfolding for me in this moment of my life.
I was in Massachusetts in this early December to help my dad organize his move to live full-time in Florida. And to organize moving my mom to a care facility. Full-time in Florida. And to set up an apartment in Bedford, along the Concord River, that I am renting here. Part-time. A place to land when I land back here to see the people I love that live on this side of my world.
It is less costly to rent a place that I have full-time and will only use part-time than it is to rent a hotel, or an Airbnb for only those times I am here. Of course I can stay with my son and my sister, but I find, as I set up this space, that I need a place to land that is mine. And this place is good. This small apartment in this amazing home on this beautiful land that abuts the Concord River that I am gifted to run along each morning that I am here. This place is very good.
My transition back and forth, and to and from, Massachusetts has been an evolution. We moved away because I was cold. The winters here, in my east coast home are cold. I am not a cold weather person by any stretch of the imagination and so, when it was that time in our lives where we could move without disrupting our children’s lives too much, we did. My plan was never to come back in the winter months, ever. Like ever. And that first year I was back pretty much every month.
It was a year of doctor appointments and memory studies and research and the hope for discovery around my mom’s deep dive into Primary Progressive Aphasia. We, my dad and my sisters and me, we tried to deep dive along with her. She left us on the surface.
So this first year brought many east coast visits in the cold of winter. The snow and the ice. The wind and the chill. I was not happy coming back. For many reasons.
These visits extended through the sweet smell of spring, the warm winds of summer and those deep and golden autumn leaves. The best times of New England. And this went on for many years.
There was a wedding and babies were born. Winter babies (can we please have some summer babies?).
And in between there was a three-month stint at the western end of my Massachusetts home. I journeyed back here six years ago this past summer to set up shop for a short time. This visit now reminds me just a bit of that visit then.
This is what I want to talk about.
Because I am in transition. Again. And these transitions, they happen during these times that Massachusetts pulls me back. The work gets started here. The triggers that spark the work show up here. The feelings of fragility are found here. The bareness of my vulnerability is barely bearable here. This is what Massachusetts seems to offer me.
It is the denseness of the space back here. The trees are big and full and take up half the sky and I feel that my energy is contained in a smaller space with not much room to flow from me to spaces far away. My energy, it cannot flow outward from me and so I must flow through it. I must flow through this because there is no way around this. The space I am in here is small and contained.
Massachusetts is like this. The trees are full and the roads are narrow. The towns are piled next to each other, one after the other after the other again and I move through them, one after the other after the other again, as I drive to where I am going.
I get to places fast when even the trip is long. Even a few hours’ drive feels faster here. Because I am passing through so many places in a moments time. It is all packed in.
I am all packed in.
On July 20th, 2016, I wrote a piece—Where Every Place Reminds Me—about my visit to Massachusetts to visit a farmhouse I would be renting that September 2016. For just a few short months. But still, a renting of a space that was my space then just as this, my new full-time apartment that I will use part-time, is my space now.
My visit these few weeks ago feels like that visit then. And while much is different—as this apartment is a long-term endeavor to create this bi-coastal life I crave for to see my children and grandchildren that live on each end of this vast land I fly across as often as I can—the process seems to be the same. I am setting up shop again. In this new space in the woods near the Concord River. A workshop. Of introspection and exploration. A small space in the woods, where I will sit in the music of my emotions as I run through the deepness of my soul.
~photo credit Madeleine Altmann
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.