To say that life is complicated is a cop out. To say that I am complicated is skirting the issue. To explain anything becomes complicated. How can I spend an entire week away from my life and not return to it rested? Ready to go? I haven’t and I’m not. How can I be of two minds and two lives? Which one do I check at the door? The difference between here and there is enormous. The secret to surviving here and there is that for each place something of myself must be left behind.
Take There – Monhegan. The day before departure we acted like we were going to the most remote outcropping of existence. Pre-cooked meals, cases of supplies, the truck, packed to the gills. The day we arrived on the island the seas were rough and rain pelted our already cold skin. And yet, gray skies could not keep me from shivering a sigh of relief. Home. Our cottage was sparse – how else to describe a tiny three room house with gas lamps, leaking faucets, exposed dirt and sky between the doors and floorboards? The 200-year-old house creaked in the wind, groaned under our weight. We fired up the wood stove every night just to offset the hurricane drafts that leaked in through cracks in the windows. Upon entering this heaven I had to leave behind electricity, the supplier of creature comforts for modern life. The cellphone died within a day. I blogged by pen. Walked everywhere. Reading by candlelight, conserving water, cooking in a galley the size of a closet. How to describe how happy this made me?
Now Here. “Home” again as I dare to call it. The day we returned to here we shed our simple, sparse ways. Cell phones powered up, email read, rides in cars, television loud, a kitchen the size of a real room. Air tight windows, sunlight tight curtains. Nothing leaks, nothing rusts. The air is silent. No gulls cry overhead. No wind rattles the windows. I stuff the other moi in a memory for later, hide myself away for another time. I become another me just in time to go back to work in the real world. Out come the costumes and customs I have grown accustomed to, makeup and jewelry, dress pants and fancy shoes. Maybe I should comb my hair.
I have a checklist for what to check at the door – the door to Uncle Henry’s does not allow commerce or constant communication. Check your excess at the door. Prepare to flow with the rhythm of boat times and high tides. Meanwhile, the door to Hilltop does not allow dirt and decay. Check your muddy Wellies at the door. Prepare to go with the ticktock of the clock, the phone, the computer, the corner stoplight.