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Leaving it All Behind
Or how I managed to run away from home. Twice.
The Democrats pulled it off! Democracy is sitting up again and taking nourishment. I can breathe. I can get back to living a normal life. I’m telling you, saving democracy is a thankless job but somebody has to do it.
Thank you to all of you who took on the effort. You made all the difference.
I’m not going to spend even a minute more on what happened or how it happened or why it happened. It happened. More Americans chose the message the Democrats are sending than that of the Republicans.
What it tells me is that kindness and sanity may, in fact, be where it’s at. I don’t have to tell you I like it there much better.
So, moving on: I told you my internet and cable were out, but here’s the update: It was out for more than two weeks, with a few hour-long teasers, when it would work. And we all cheered! And then it would go out again.
So I ran away from home for a few days. Four days, to be exact. I spent the first day in a motel close to the hospital, where I had an appointment for a full-body pet scan. A few weeks earlier, during my annual exam, my oncologist didn’t like the way some scar tissue looked. I had passed the five-year mark since my mastectomy, so she decided it might be time to check for any lurking cancer invaders.
I could have driven the 100 miles to the hospital and driven home that same day, but I didn’t have cable or internet, and I’d just had a damn PET SCAN, so I decided to spend the night in the Big Town. It was going to take five or six days to get the results, and I was a nervous wreck, anyway, so I stayed another night. By myself.
The next day, on Friday morning, after I’d already left the Big Town and crossed the Mighty Mac, about to go home, I called my friendly neighbor to see if our lifelines were back on, and she, almost crying, gave me the sad news: Not until next week. Maybe.
So, all right—home was not an option. My own home. Not an option. All because I had no cable or internet, the phones were iffy, and I’d have no news, no entertainment, no access to the outside world.
It hit me as I sat in my car in an empty parking lot, looking at my phone as if it had just told me the world as I knew it was coming to an end, that as much as I’d bragged about being a hardy northerner, I almost always bragged about it online, from the comfort of a space with mostly modern conveniences.
I was no longer cut out for roughing it.
I wasn’t even ashamed. It made me even more desperate to find a place that would keep me comfortable. I had just had a pet scan to see if cancer was lurking and I wouldn’t know the results for almost a week. We were only days away from the most important elections of our lives and nobody could predict for sure that we would keep what we had or gain what we didn’t have. I missed Ed, who would have been by my side right up until the moment they called me into that room with the big machine. And I’d just gotten word that a dear sister/cousin was in hospice.
I’d packed enough for a few days, as I always do, so I began looking for places to stay. I hate hotels and motels, even when I’m with someone, and I really hate them when I’m alone. They always seem sad and dreary, no matter how nice and/or clean they are. They’re basically a bedroom with a bathroom attached and they all look the same. (Once we stayed in a motel where the pictures above the beds had been installed upside down. They were landscapes, not abstracts. So that was fun. But that doesn’t happen often.)
As I sat in the town library searching on my laptop for places to stay, I thought, ‘Bed and Breakfast! That’s the ticket!’
Brilliant! It’ll feel like home, maybe better. It’ll be lovely. Or at least cutesy. And maybe I’ll find one where I don’t have to share a bathroom.
Now remember (because I had forgotten), I live in the northern latitudes, where, if they know what’s good for them, nearly every business closes up for the winter by the end of October. Especially Bed and Breakfasts. And, it turns out, nearly all of the motels and hotels, big and little. (After a few ‘Closed for the Season’s’ they were starting to look good again.)
The end of October was two days away. I was just about to look around the library to see if there were any nice people with cable and internet who might want a guest for the weekend, when I spotted an ad for rustic log cabins, still open, with lake views, and right in the middle of a nearby town! Cute as a button, with a separate bedroom and a loft reachable by a winding staircase. Even a front porch! I had visions of writing there. My own writing retreat. Perfect!
I wanted to stay at least three days, but—wouldn’t you know? I got there on Friday and they were shutting down for the winter on Sunday morning, right after the last guests left.
But okay, I’d have half of Friday and all day Saturday to work. Perfect! I set up my laptop and got to work. Everything was going fine until I noticed my battery was about to give out, and I reached into my bag to grab the cord. No cord. I’d stupidly left it at home. The files I was working on were Word files, not accessible on my iPad or my phone. Not that I want to use either of them to write long drafts, anyway. I don’t. I can’t. So I did what I used to do in the olden days: I wrote longhand in a notebook. And I read.
Yes, I took this place because they had cable and internet, and I used it instead as a quiet place to read and write. I didn’t even turn on the TV.
But it was different there. I love my house but there are any number of distractions, tons of things I could be doing instead of writing, and they all tend to hit me as I sit down to write. The cabin was my writing room. Nothing else got in the way. It really was perfect.
I got back home on Sunday afternoon and, of course, there was no internet because tech doesn’t make neighborhood calls on the weekend. It finally came back mid-day on Monday and, if we’d all lived closer, you would have heard cheers from all over the neighborhood. It was as if we’d all come out of bomb shelters and found that normal life still existed. We were safe!
Then, around 10:30 that night, it went out again. It came back for about an hour in the early morning and then kaput…
I was planning on closing up the house and leaving for the winter some time in the next week or two, which would have given me plenty of time to pack for the three or four months I’d be away.
Less than twenty-four hours later I was on the ferry heading to civilization, my car packed to the gills with, hopefully, everything I’d need until I got back in the spring. I crossed the Mighty Mac into Michigan’s mitten, drove the 350 miles straight through, and now I’m at my daughter’s house in the downriver Detroit area, settling in.
And already longing for woods and water.
Yesterday was Ed’s 90th birthday. I had to get through that, and, with the help of my family, I did. We had an impromptu party for him. Not quite the party we had planned when we thought he would still be here for the grand occasion, but a lively, fun gathering that would have made him happy.
And today I’m restocking and planning ahead. I didn’t realize how ‘on hold’ I was, what with the pet scan (which, by the way, showed NO CANCER!), the election, my cousin’s hospice and, sadly, her ultimate death (I would love to write more about her, but I can’t yet), as well as Ed’s looming birthday, but I don’t feel squeezed today.
I feel at peace and ready to get back to work. My desk is ready and waiting. I managed to remember to pack the files I’m going to need, and I think I’m ready to push myself and write those longer pieces that seemed impossible just a week ago.
Oh, but did I tell you how I’m feeling about the mess at Twitter? Or my frustrating attempts at finding another home just like it, in case Twitter disappears?
You’re lucky, then, aren’t you?
See you soon. I mean it. Soon.
(Crossposted at Writer Everlasting, my other Substack newsletter. If you subscribe to both, I’m sorry for the duplication. It happens sometimes.)
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