Sunday, August 30, 2015


Part of plugging myself back into my old life, now that I've returned from my two-month, cross country trip, has been to attend those events where my tribe routinely gathers. Today that place was a lovely picnic spot overlooking the East Bay in Rhode Island. I stopped at the Eastside Market, picked up a few dozen pieces of sushi to take along, and away I went. Alone. It never occurred to me to seek out another to go to the picnic with. However, while I was navigating the crowd, making small talk, answering questions about my trip, I overheard some women talking about being happy to have another to go with because left to their own devices, they never would have attended alone. I understand the need to show up with a friend in tow, someone to break the ice with, but take it from someone who has walked into plenty of rooms full of strangers alone in the last few months---it's a worthy pursuit. Cast aside your fear. Hold your head up and walk bravely into that gathering. Smile. Find a friendly person or group of people and walk up and put your hand out. Say your name. Listen when others give you theirs. Ask questions. Recognize that it's human nature to feel awkward, maybe even a little intimidated, but lots of folks feel that way initially. You are not alone.

I was listening to my favorite songwriter/musician, Jackson Browne, earlier. In For a Dancer, Browne sings, "Just do the steps that you've been shown, by everyone you've ever known, until the dance becomes your very own, no matter how close to yours another's step have grown. In the end there is one dance you'll do alone." Let's all stop hiding behind our partners, friends, family, and move bravely into the world. I can't get to know you if you're sitting home afraid to come out and play. Quite frankly, if I waited for a mate or a fellow traveler to experience life with, I'd be missing out on a whole lot of cool people, places, and things. I don't know about you, but life is way too short to sit this dance out. When I hear the music, the chorus, I am going to dance, with or without a partner in tow.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Life is short.

Returning from my two-month summer book tour, I put a visit to my 21-year-old son at the top of the list. Matthew is living and learning to be a grown-up in New Haven, Connecticut, and the last time I saw him was in late June. The connection I have with my son is one of tender understanding. His struggle, his life views, his spirit, all touch me in powerful ways. He is the youngest. He bore the brunt of our family's dark years. As we hugged and parted yesterday, and he turned to walk back to his apartment, my eyes filled up with tears as they always do. I longed for a simpler time. I ached for a return to the carefree days of his early years, the laughter, the promise. I lingered in my car a few minutes until I could safely reset my thinking, and actually drive. Truth is, I am grateful that my son is alive, he is safe, he is learning to live a clean, honest life. I am grateful that I can pick up the phone and call him, text him, tell him I love him. Some people I know can no longer do that because their children have died. Still, a pervasive longing took hold of my heart as I made the 30-minute trip to my 90-year-old mother's home in Southington, Connecticut. I love my mom. We have made our peace. I no longer allow her to push my buttons. I am wise enough to know she won't be on this earthly plane forever. But my initial response to going to visit her was the usual one, "Okay, I'll stay an hour or so, and head home." But something occurred to me (and this was God's grace)---my mother loves me, longs for connection with me, the same way I hunger for it with and from my son. I called my mom from New Haven to tell her I was on my way. My mom suggested I spend the night. When I said, "Actually, mom, I was planning on it, and hoped that would be okay," I could almost hear and feel her joy over the line.

This thing called life is cyclical. What goes around comes around. What I crave from others, they crave from me. Time. Connection. Love. Understanding. I owe people my presence, my wholehearted attention. Today, I vow to linger longer with those I love.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Coming Home

Summer is winding down, and in a couple of days, I will drive the final few hundred coastal miles up Interstate 95, towards the East Greenwich, Rhode Island exit. I will aim my Ford Transit wagon (with the well-worn green peace sign on the hood) towards the familiar Hill and Harbor district, the vibrant downtown with my favorite coffee shop at one end, and my home on the third floor of the historic brick Masonic building. I will park in my spot with the number 3 stencil, and begin unloading empty boxes, camping gear, office supplies, and one suitcase. Phase one of my Linger Longer book tour will be over.  I will come home. I will breath a sigh of relief. I will eagerly resume and pour myself into my old life. Truth be told, nothing I have done in the past two months, over 13,000 domestic miles scares me more than coming home.

I'm not bringing me home. I look the same. I talk and laugh the same. But if you look into my eyes, you will not find the old me. Don't be surprised if what you see instead is every cloud, star, wave, sun and moonbeam that held me tenderly. They filled me. They caused my heart to swell. My capacity for love expanded in ways I never knew possible or available. My ego took a backseat, and humility was forged, pure and simple, as I relied on the kindnesses of strangers to answer questions, maintain my vehicle, welcome me into their homes, buy my work, and share history lessons I never would have gotten in a book.

In the first few days and weeks, I will seek out and receive soft landings. I will bend down and wait for my sweet son to kiss me atop the head (our special greeting). I will pull into my mom's driveway and linger over a cup of coffee and some toast. I will hold my precious granddaughter and inhale her sweet smells. I will hug all three of my children tightly and hope they can feel the depth of my love and understand my longing. I will meet old friends for coffee and meals and we will laugh heartedly again. I will rejoin my early morning fellowship in Providence and let them welcome me back into their fold.

I will come home. I must. My only nephew will tie the knot in September. We will christen the baby in early October. I must appeal the Town of East Greenwich's sanction against participating in Airbnb's sharing economy, and take my condo association to task.

But like pages torn from a book, I'm not sure mine can ever be reassembled, made whole again in the same old way. Intuitively, I suspect that those chapters, that book, must be set aside now. I pray for the courage, knowledge, and sustenance to begin the next new volume.