Wheatfield Near Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Photograph by Robert Clements

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

So Much to Write About

The problem with blogs, I'm finding out, or at least my own - okay, I can't speak for anyone but myself - is that there is too much to write about. My head is usually filled with days, nights, scenes from a relationship, scenes from the hills of South Dakota, scenes from inside my fuzzy little brain, scenes from Maine. Scenes from Maine.

I'm homesick. There, it's out. I miss my house, the ocean, my friends and family, the places I love to go, my Hannaford grocery store, recycling, Sebago Lake water, and trees. I miss wry wit, dry wit, sarcasm, my friend Barbara's big laugh and her kitchen table, my mother's voice, the sound my father makes when he clears his throat, letting my dog and my cat outside and inside, Quaker Point, my sister's incredible sense of humor, my brother's shy chuckle and brilliant observations from the other side of his silence, the New Meadows River, the East End and Munjoy Hill, the walking paths my dog and I used to take every day, and so on and so on...

This was a big change. A humungatroid leap of faith, and I took it because I love Bob, but also because I believe it's important to shake up the soul if it begins to get too comfortable. It's been an adventure filled with days spent in a beautiful gallery filled with work by a fabulous artist and photographer, rides in the truck gazing at hills that roll and toss their way to the horizon, which gets snagged by far-distant buttes and mountains and hills. One night, around midnight, we went deep into the Badlands under a full moon, and honey, ain't nothing like that in the world. It's like sitting with ghosts somewhere in the middle of Planet X.

And it is true what they say about Western sunsets. It's true that the deer and the antelope play and the buffalo roam. Seldom is heard a discouraging word because people just don't talk that much, and when they do, their troubles aren't up for discussion. And the skies are not cloudy, at least all day, the wind hustles them along to other skies like a mother hurries her sleepy kids to the bus stop. And like those kids, sometimes the clouds protest and whine and whammy! Lightening, thunder, and a whizzed-off wind screaming back and shoving them harder. But generally, it's sunny, and this is a new thing for a woman used to a moody climate. Rainy days are always good excuses for not getting things done outside. Rainy days are good for indoor things. When it's sunny, one has to show up for life.

It's so very different here. The people I've met are great, and if I let them into my heart, they'd be even greater. It is all up to me, in so many ways. It's a huge responsibility, this life of mine. Geez. I recently read Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. The gist, or the point that struck me, was that the main character was an Eastern woman who loved her life in the East, but fell in love with a Westerner and became a pioneer. A couple of times, Stegner makes the point that she never truly let herself live in the West; never let herself get to know people. She always kept her distance; her memories of the East ruled her life. So, I must say, I feel that way right now, but I'm hoping that it will pass and that I will find my life here. I can't imagine not living my life fully, heart and soul, wherever I have planted myself. It won't be fair to me, to Bob, to our adventure here. But it takes time. My dear friend Claire, who immigrated from Ireland when she was young, understands what I'm going through. (By the way, a wonderful book on homesickness and Irish immigration is Brooklyn by Colm Tobin - really gorgeous book in simple prose [how do the Irish do that?]). She says she soaked her pillow many nights for a long time. "Join an organization," was her suggestion, so I'm thinking about that, but I know these things come slowly. She's a wise woman who has lived a long and fulfilling life and what she says makes perfect sense. So, I am going to take horseback-riding lessons (hey, a blog topic!), so we'll see how that goes. I'm going to a writer's conference in a couple of weeks and that will be great. Getting together with other members of my tribe will be fabulous. I always like to gather with folks who make stuff up for a living.

So, I will adapt and thrive. In the meantime, I email, and I write, and sometimes I call and get called, and I think about them all back in Maine, a lot. I set my mind to following myself through a day in Portland, or driving north to West Bath, taking all the curves and hills and as they come, in my trusty beloved Honda Civic Hatchback, the Jelly Bean. I note the chips in the paint on my stair risers in my Portland house, the backyard and its little garden. The ugly tin-man shed in the corner of that yard. I walk up the hills to the top of the East End by the new school, then cross the Promenade and take paths that lead to East End Beach, then walk the rest of the way - a complete circle - past the harbor, up the hill, past Silly's, to home. I park in the post office parking lot in Bath and meet my family for pizza. I ring the doorbell at 838 Washington Street in Bath and then I walk in, sit down, and talk over the latest trials, tribulations, and triumphs. I drink wine at a small bar with Beth, or Brenda, or walk dogs with Tootie or Jay.

I miss them all. But they're loved and happy, as far as I know. I would have heard, I am sure, if things weren't okay. They are living their lives, as I am living mine, here in this little town in Western South Dakota, on this mixed-grasses prairie backed up against the Black Hills. And I'm agog with possibilities and time, if I let it, will be my friend.


  1. Sorry, mate, this little ditty did not make me laugh a big belly laugh at all...I'm sitting here with tears running down my face because I'm homesick too. I miss my friend. :-) Love you much. What a wonderful writer you are!!!

  2. Morgan, I so wish we could go grab a glass of wine tonight. Missing you and your sly laughter, dry wit and ass-kicking advice very much.
    I love to read your blog posts. Not just because it's a way of keeping in touch, but also because they are so very beautifully written and wise. Love, love, love...you.