Ever since I moved to Indianapolis in 2002, I’ve wanted to eventually move to Maine. There, I thought I’d walk the Marginal Way each morning, listen and write to the ocean waves in the afternoons, and have lobster rolls and moxie with my Maine man by night.
Eleven years later, I’m pretty sure I want none of it. Except the lobster roll. I definitely still want the lobster roll. Just from Arnold’s in Eastham, Mass, not from Maine. Along with a side order of their onion rings built for a family of four. Oh, and a brownie to rouse me from the coma. Yes, just that. That’s all I want. Delivered and in the off-season to avoid the lines, of course. But just that.
What has become of me? I think I got old is what. There’s a lot of aging between 40 and 50. People like to say 50 is middle-aged, but shoot me now if I have to be in this world at 100. God only knows what will be on TV by then. I always wondered why older people stayed home so much and now I know: I need a drink or a nap just from a trip to the store lately. It’s all work.
The thought of writing does still jazz me. I love the lifestyle of it, I love the puzzle of it, and I love the accomplishment of it. But lately, I haven't felt very good at it, and it seems like more of a struggle than it used to. Work.
The thought of dinner conversation with a man is kind of nice, only between 4:30 and 5:30 pm during the ever so sophisticated and sparsely populated Early Bird/Sunset Special hours of course, but man hair in my bathroom sink isn’t going to happen again in this lifetime. Work.
And then there are the thoughts of New England, with its congestion and bugs and vacationing children, and well, frankly, New Englanders. A lot entirely too educated and full of themselves for my current taste. I wouldn’t tell you something positive about myself unless you damn near threatened me with bodily harm, but these folks? They just know best and you don’t, you poor, confused thing. Yes, I’m generalizing, because I’m good at it, and it’s less work.
These are my issues now more than ever before, I am aware, and I do myself and the world a favor and adjust my patterns accordingly and non-apologetically, because I am a smart, sensitive, old, tired, and crotchety person. Really, I’m just this Walter/Jeff Dunham guy now. I know it. I own it. Shut the hell up.
Just when I thought these changes in my life’s desires were going to force some annoying self-assessment testing, along came Santa Fe. I got as close as Taos on a trip in 2011 but the rest of the highway was blocked during the Las Conchas fires. This year, I made it and it was love at first sight of the two-gate airport. I was like the Eddie Albert side of the Green Acres theme song before I even got my own altitude adjusted in the rental car. There wasn’t a thing I didn’t like about this little 70,000 person town, but narrowly outranking the space of it, what touched me most was the energy of it: peaceful, thoughtful, mindful, spiritual, creative, respectful, can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-it-but-please-sir-I-want-some-more. So not work.
It felt like these folks appreciated and respected their homes and lives in a way I’ve never experienced. They seemed to take care of their surroundings and each other, not in a frantic, accosted wave over the fence sort of way, but in an “I’m here for you” sense. Not work.
I went to restaurants (even on Mother’s Day) where there were older people, single people, and groups of twos and threes, instead of the Midwestern passels of twelve, half of whom are under the age of ten. I went to a Farmer’s Market, a real one, not in a parking lot, and not overrun with pretention and narcissism. I went to a Trader Joe’s on a Saturday afternoon and saw a man in the parking lot directing traffic to more than enough empty parking spaces. Inside, I actually got to my Inner Peas and Crispy Green Beans with nary a cart skirmish and got through the line with ease and grace. All not work.
Sure, there were other things like the art and the history and the missions and the Gorge Bridge and The Plaza and Abiquiú and the Tent Rocks, but it was the peace in the everyday things that won’t leave me. I got home, did some querying, and immediately stumbled upon a perfect match of a job for me for which I’m currently in the running. Through a friend, I have a potential housesitting gig in September. Who knows if either of these will come to pass, but I’m old enough to know when I’m paddling in the natural flow of life again.
And look at me, writing something. Yes, Santa Fe, you’re right, you are magical and enchanting, and you suit me pretty fine, because after all, so am I. Or I will be once I get past this whole middle age thing. **I tried to find a picture of Walter with a slight grin, but it doesn’t exist, so you’ll just have to imagine it.
There does, however, remain the issue of the lobster roll. Having given this a lot of thought, I have come to the conclusion that I can make do with The Pantry and The Shed and La Plazuela and Kakawa and Yin Yang Chinese and a Bert’s Berger and a Frito Pie at the Five and Dime and…..yes. It’s over, lobster roll. You were a lot of work, but I'll miss you.