Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Eighth Letter

Dearest Ireland,

I left home in early June and will be going back in early September. We'll be together three long, unpredictable months.   For two weeks, it's pretty simple to live out of a suitcase. I can free fall into vacation mode and not worry about a thing.  And as I learned when I went to Alaska, if I'm gone for a year, I can set up household with all my familiar and personal paraphernalia and feel semi-permanent. But three months is like an awkward adolescent.  I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm having to grow with it and into it.
Sweet comfort

Doc has gone to great lengths to make me feel comfortable and relaxed. Anticipating a bombardment of belongings, he purchased a gorgeous vintage wardrobe to house my clothes and whatever. It's just my style, which he knew from being in my home in January. And it's huge. I want to climb inside it and see if I land in Narnia, but I'm afraid I'd miss him too much.

I've always been a person who thrives on routine. At home, I always gently unfold each new day with fresh coffee and a quiet, almost catatonic few moments on the sofa as I wait for the caffeine to kick in.  I've grown to love this time of solitude and prayer and try to end the day in the same way, including the caffeine which, surprisingly, never keeps me awake.
The magic wardrobe....It's even bigger than it looks.

I usually have a PFTD (Plan For The Day). When I was working full time and raising a family, I didn't have to put too much thought into this. Necessity dictated the schedule. But since retirement, I've learned that time goes by too quickly and whole days can be wasted  just sipping espresso and trying to coax my eyes open.

So when I moved back to St. Pete from Dade City five years ago, I made a deliberate effort to find various ways to feel productive and fulfilled.....volunteering, calling on friends, traveling (short trips),  practicing music, reading, visiting family....always on my own terms and schedule. Now I hate to admit it but I think I've become "set in my ways", like cement.

When I'm at home, I wake at the same time each day, eat the same multigrain cereal with milled flax seed sprinkles, have a smoothie with Publix "super greens", a banana, milk and two dollops of strawberry yogurt (never three dollops).  Most evenings, I practice my fiddle sitting at the end of the sofa with the TV tuned to Jeopardy and later eat kettle corn while I read or watch a video on Amazon Prime.  Throughout the day, now that I think about it, I go through many of the same motions, but with different people at different places. I never venture far from home.
My cozy spot at home

The comfort zone monster pursues me relentlessly because he knows my nature is NOT adventurous nor is it risk-taking. I'm such easy prey.

It's been challenging (in a good way) to break out of my mold (before it sets too hard) and become more flexible and spontaneous. I grab moments throughout the day to be alone, to open a book, to settle some ugly business with my fiddle technique, to "face time" with family and stay in touch with what's familiar and "American".

But there's satisfaction...even joy, in adjusting to life in another place with another person. I've come to believe that the freedom we use to develop rigid structures and routines for ourselves can, ironically, produce a type of bondage. It can become an emotional burden that sets us up for isolation and loneliness.... a deceptive happiness that is hollow and fleeting.

I seem to be learning another way here with you, dear Ireland.

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