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The Art of Not Knowing

The stupid tide, in again
Sunset from my deck

I know that it’s not unusual for me to go long stretches of time without writing, but it is unusual for me to want to write and not be able to figure out how. Obviously, I still know how to write, but getting the right words to come out can be tricky sometimes. I wanted to paint this beautiful picture of my new life in Maine, but what kept coming out was…the truth. That I was sad, and homesick, lonely and unsettled. That I missed my house and my neighborhood. That I hated not knowing where things are in the grocery store, and for that matter, not knowing where the grocery store was.

Kennebunkport

The first two weeks was really, really hard. I think it was made harder by the fact that I truly did not expect to feel any of the things I was feeling. I had this idea that I would get here and somehow immediately slip into this perfect, magical, Hallmark Movie life.

Hallmark Movie set

It’s almost like I don’t even know myself, isn’t it? I guess it’s nice to know I still have the ability to surprise myself.

If the first two weeks were hard, the third week was…just awful. I was sure I’d made the biggest mistake in my life, I was mad at myself and mad, quite frankly, at the entire state of Maine (as if any of this was the state’s fault- they didn’t ask me to move here in the middle of a goddamn pandemic). I was mad at this weird condo with its twenty seven sets of dishes but only one decent frying pan. I was mad at the crooked floors and the bathtub (as mentioned in my last post), the screen door and the mailbox. I was mad about the lack of quick routes to places, and mad that the sun went out three minutes after sunset, tricking my body into thinking it was midnight before I’d even had dinner. But…the moment I looked out the window and thought “The stupid tide is in again, I see.” I realized how ridiculous I was being. I actually laughed out loud.

Did I…did I really just look out my window, at the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, that I can actually see without doing more than looking left, and roll my eyes because the “stupid tide” had come in again? Okay, I thought, I need to get a grip.

I wanted something different. I was feeling stifled and trapped in my life in California, and I longed for- I BEGGED for- the chance to shake things up. I got everything I asked for, more, even, than I dared ask for…and here I was, sulking because I received all of my dreams tied up in the neatest little package. What an absolute jackass I was being.

Here’s the thing- I wasn’t really mad. Mad is just the mask I wear when I am other things, especially when I am afraid. Because being afraid is an awfully vulnerable feeling, and I am not comfortable there. But being mad is big and loud and safe, it charges through the house and slams doors. Fear just…curls up on the floor and cries, or stands in the bathroom for way too long, unsure what to do once you open the door.

So, I did the things I always do, which are- I caught onto myself, first of all. I acknowledged that the way I was behaving wasn’t only shitty, but it was a big fat lie. I let myself meltdown utterly for a couple of days. Then I got to work. I asked myself “How can you work this to your advantage?” and “What do you want to get out of this experience?” and most importantly, “What are you going to do next?”

I have come to some decisions. I figure I can best work this to my advantage by doing exactly what I said I would do from the get go- saving, saving, saving. Squirreling away every dollar I can to go towards the house I am going to buy. And what do I want out of this experience? Well, I want the joy of adventure, of course. I want to explore and play, walk and see all the sights that I can. I want to immerse myself in New England, as much as I can in the midst of this never-ending stupid pandemic.

And finally, what do I want to do next? If you have followed me for any length of time, or if you know me in real life, then you will know that I ALWAYS have a “next thing”. And I suppose I kind of do, because I know I want to buy a house, but…that’s pretty vague. The thing is, I don’t really have a next thing right now. I don’t know what I want to do next. I don’t know if I will choose to stay here, or if I will go back to California. And if I do go back, I don’t know where I’ll land. While I am here, I don’t know if I’ll stay in this funny little condo with the world class views, or if I’ll find something else. I am utterly up in the air. I have no clue what I am doing, and my brain keeps trying to puzzle it out, rather like a phone searching for a Wi-Fi connection.

I just don’t know. I can’t know. There’s no point trying to plan when I don’t have all the facts in. I need to be happy. I need to feel connected. I need to feel that I am home, that I belong, that this can work. And that is something that takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen in four weeks, not for most people. So when my brain starts hassling me, or I start scrolling through listings of rentals out of sheer habit, I force myself to knock it off, to sit back and do something else. Stare out the window. Walk the dog. Read a book. I am allowed to stop worrying, to stop pushing myself to decide, to stop needing answers that don’t exist.

I am not skilled at all in the art of not knowing. But I am smart. I can learn anything with a little effort.

I’ll muddle through, somehow