Saturday, September 17, 2011

A New Jersey Transit Misadventure

Codex by Radiohead

So here I am, on a train to visit the family in New Jersey….I am somewhere an hour and a half or so from Philadelphia, listening to the song that reminds me most of Philadelphia. There is something about this song that resonates so completely with my Philly mental state….when I first moved to the city, listening to this song would make me cry as I walked around. Now it makes me wistful, smile a little, and at least be aware of how I feel about it.

Seawall at Sunset

All I can think about is Maine. Maine Maine Maine….on the brain. Every moment of every day I think about living there and as yet cannot decide if that is just a romantic escape from a present situation that is fraught with complications and chaos, or if the pure resonance of the idea means that this move to Philly was to direct me to the place where I really want to be. When I think about it, all the trees and the water and the calm and the people and the snow and the ocean and the birds and the mountains and rivers and streams and beaches and rocks and pebbles and and and….

An old postcard of Great Cranberry Island

So there it is. Maine……the only place where all my insanity gets some rest. But it is very cold there in the winter, for a long time. And jobs are hard to find. But surely I would find something? And I could rent a house on the Crooked Road, or on a smaller island…or something.

Little girls playing in a field of flowers, Great Cranberry Island, 1913

What is the dream? The dream kindled by this past summer and a lifetime of summers and winter visits up there. A desire for a different way of life more akin to what I like to do with my time and what is important to me. A dream kindled by a trip on the mail boat to Great Cranberry Island, and a reading of the book “We Were an Island” about a wonderful couple who lived on Placentia Island from the 1940s through 1980s. A dream kindled by the idea of teaching in a small island school, teaching all ages of kids together in one room, each day commuting to work on a boat instead of in a car. 

The main pier at Great Cranberry

Each day commuting through dark blue, green, purple, copper, black ocean. Lobster buoys, boats, gulls, clouds, fog, ice, sunshine, the wake of the boat would be my viewpoint instead of the tracks of an elevated train and the burnt-out hulls of ancient factories.

 Is the dream realistic? Well no dreams entirely are, and I guess this is why we pursue our dreams: at least they give us a goal point and maybe we drift slightly along the way while we approach the dream. Is it possible? Yes. Does it matter if it looks exactly like it does in your head? Well, more or less like the image in my head would be nice.

A painting of the Preble House by artist Marshall Ginn

So. The dream. The risky business. Taking such a huge risk, leaping off into the unknown. Moving to a place where life is much different, where the winter is much longer, where the possibility of getting the same job I have now is much more limited….I may have to wait a long, long time……

The mail boat! This boat, or another one like this boat, would be my ride to work if I was to teach on the island!

The last time I took a risk like this was when I became a teacher. The year was 2006, and I was working for IBM as an event planner. At the exact moment when my friend Brennan called me on the phone and asked if I would like a teaching job, I was in a hotel room in Port O'Connor, Texas, drinking lots of tequila on 4th of July weekend. 

It was raining incessantly, it was very hot and there were, quite literally, mobs of millions of mosquitoes flying around everywhere. Needless to say, our 4th of July celebration was inside the confines of a small, humid hotel room at the Tarpon Inn. When he called, I said yes I would love to be a teacher but I had no credentials. He told me not to worry about it, that it would work out. So I went in for an interview when we all got back to Austin,  and the next day, I was offered the job. When I quit IBM, my boss told me that the world needs angels, and that he really couldn’t complain that I was leaving IBM to become a teacher. I took a $13,000 paycut immediately but just didn’t care. I hated the IBM job and was already considering quitting and going back to Whole Foods, but this came up instead.

So is Maine my risky, life change of 2011-2012? I feel young for my age, but at the same time too old to be making decisions that are in the ultimate benefit of anyone but me. And a move to rural Maine would be a move only because I wan to do it. It would be a decision made for me, by me, and therefore, only I could blame myself for the consequences. But, the beautiful hopefulness of this idea is that if it does work out, I will be able to celebrate a decision made for my own happiness. It seems selfish to say things like that. I feel like I have made decisions for the benefit of others for many years, and put myself second. The braggadocio comes out when I just say to myself, who cares? Something will just work out….

Famous last words? Or a famous step in the right direction…..finally?

When I think about living and working in Maine….I think about doing more art, spending more time outside, cooking more, more of the meaningful, less of the dismal steps one takes when one is just going through the motions of a life less than enjoyable.

All of these thoughts come to me as I am rocked and lulled by a train ride through the darkness: a ride from Trenton to Newark Penn Station, in an old, chrome train car populated with brown nagahide and chrome seats, stainless steel luggage racks, and a quiet sense of relaxation on a Friday night...I love the train and I love this time to relax and think and be in the moment for a moment. When caught up in the day to day, I forget to take this time just to be. 

Going back to winding yarn balls, 


Links por vous:

I will be starting a Guernsey (or sometimes known as Gansey) sweater for my brother for Christmas. This is my first big-time sweater project!!! 

I am winding yarn balls at the moment for the Carlisle Scarf from Loop is really beautiful! I am still in yarn-shop withdrawal, being that nowhere is exactly like Hill Country Weavers (btw, please take a look at their fiber drive and consider sending something to a fellow fiber fiend who has lost everything in the wildfires), but I am adjusting to the acceptance phase of loss and beginning to embrace my new LYS!

Also, please consider donating $10 to the United Way of Central Texas to donate funds to families who have lost their homes. Luckily, I think, everyone was able to escape the fires, but many have lost homes and possessions. It is hard to be so far away and think of all the help that is needed in my old hometown!

And in polar-opposite land, otherwise known as our neck of the woods, click here to donate funds to Vermont Aid and help people with flood relief. 

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