Everywhere you go, there you are.
To that end—
Meet Blanche: compact, good lookin’, and gets around.
I grew up in a family that traveled/relocated quite a lot. I didn’t make friends easily in all that traveling and was never certain if it was the nomadic living or just me and my shyness.
I married my second husband and wanted and expected to be in one home the rest of my life as he had been for the entirety of his childhood and youth. We only moved twice in twenty-nine years of marriage, yet how many long-term friends did I make? One.
The reasons are more complex than just that I am not terribly good at socializing (I’m not). I was also very isolated and discouraged from seeking outside friendships at work, or, once I started working from home, in my neighborhood.
In 2020 and 2021, divorced and living in the small island village in which we were to retire, I made a handful of friends but still felt disconnected. Much as I loved the village, it is a home of married retirees and conservative Christians. Neither label applies to me. I am the proverbial fifth wheel.*
There are numerous reasons for this new, major life change I am making.
- I have come to realize I may be more like my dad in my old age than I realized in younger years; traveling and not putting down roots may be more my gig. I felt stuck like a barnacle to my house and I hated it. Maybe my distaste for keeping house has always been connected to this fact.
- There are ghosts in the village: exes of both the love and the friend varieties.
- The village isn’t exactly bustling with opportunities for my skill set.
- I have the financial and health resources, at the moment. I will not if I keep wasting money on rent and waiting until I’m too old to travel.
- Renting is a nightmare unless you luck into a decent property manager.
- I am too old to be waiting for Prince Charming, but far too young to sit in a house and wait to die.
- MOST OF ALL: I want to.
I want to see things I have never gotten to see and challenge my fears. If I live another year or another twenty years, I want to do it feeling alive and pursuing things that bring me joy instead of doing what others have decided is the proper and socially appropriate thing for me to do. I have no real responsibility except to myself and my dog (and bills incurred by both, obvs). Ideally, I want to be “around” for my few family members, but I know they would also want my last years to be spent in joy, not abject misery.
So, Sam and I have left, driving Betty White the Chevy and towing Blanche the Casita Freedom.
I am scared. I am anxious. I am excited. I am thrilled. I am despondent. I am leaving people I love as much as people I can happily live without. I am leaving my beautiful “puppy birds” (pelicans) and all the other rescuees I adore. Those are perhaps the most difficult losses.
I am heading into something I really can’t anticipate or define yet. I hope against hope, it is at least finally, “me.” It feels like a very long time since have seen that person in whole.
If I was ever whole, it was when I was twenty-five and taking care of myself and my child despite considerable interference from my first husband and little help from others. (Not that family didn’t want to help). Now I have myself again and I seek wholeness that only I can find.
So, I will go wherever it is I decide to go and I will be as present and cognizant of my strengths and weaknesses with regard to self-governance and self-sufficiency as is possible. I will be open to growth to create a mature vision of wholeness while incorporating some aspects of that vision from my twenties. Finally, I will work to place my value in what I bring to relationships and not what another thinks of me or offers me. (The most challenging effort for me).
As such, everywhere I go, there I’ll be.
*Yes, “fifth wheel” is the correct expression.